We Want the Roadless Rule Kept in Place!

Written by SEACC

March 28, 2022

During the United States Department of Agriculture’s public process from November 23, 2021, to January 24, 2022, Southeast Alaskans and supporters nationwide weighed in on the Biden administration’s promise to reinstate National Roadless Rule protections on the Tongass National Forest.

The numbers tell a good story. With your support, SEACC generated 2,165 comments to the U.S. Forest Service. But you tell a better story.

Southeast Alaskans overwhelmingly spoke out in support of Roadless Rule protections. One thing was abundantly clear: Our communities understand the simple connection between a healthy environment and the health and prosperity of the people who reside here. Here are some of our favorite unique comments from the 2021-2022 public process:

“Y’all did way too much logging and squandered the American treasury of both financial and ecological capital in this pursuit. To what end? For jobs that vanished when the government propped up pulp mills met their economic fate? According to a recent report by Taxpayers for Common Sense, the USFS has lost approximately $1.7 billion dollars on the Tongass timber sale program since 1980, almost all of these losses coming from the road-building program. What a compounded mess that has been. … Generations in my family, in my community, around Southeast Alaska, and across the United States have worked to slow, prevent, and end the foolish headlong rush to liquidate the precious natural capital that is the old-growth and special places of Southeast Alaska. Now, belatedly, the true value of this incredible landscape has begun to be recognized as the globally significant ecological services system that it has always been.”

Aaron Brakel — Douglas, Alaska

“We have made our footprints, built our houses, and flourished in this amazing rainforest we call home. This place has stolen the hearts of so many people and with each ancient tree that is removed, another young future is shortened.”

Amber Locke — Elmira, Oregon, Juneau, and Skagway, Alaska

“It is reckless and irresponsible to continue logging and developing the Tongass in any way that diminishes this forest’s ability to function as an intact ecosystem. We’ve already degraded many of our country’s national forests. Let us learn from history and not repeat the same mistakes in the Tongass. The first step is to change the way we view the Tongass. Instead of a forest to take timber and other commodities, let’s view it as a forest that grows salmon, a forest that stores carbon, a forest that offers recreation, and a forest that provides sustainable subsistence for the Indigenous peoples who have lived in the region for thousands of years. When viewed in this light, it’s clear that we must finally end industrial-scale logging and any kind of development that threatens the forest’s ability to contribute to Earth’s resiliency.”

Amy Gulick — Clinton, Washington

“I fear that people who have never been [to Southeast Alaska] simply cannot even begin to fathom, let alone appreciate, the importance of an essentially UNDISTURBED ecological system.”

Andrew Fylypovych — Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

“Everything here is connected, so keeping this forest ecosystem as healthy and intact as possible is of utmost importance. We must work to keep the ecosystem in this region and its Indigenous cultures and practices vibrant.”

Anna Tollfeldt — Craig, Alaska

“I lived in Juneau in Southeast Alaska for 18 years. … The Tongass National Forest is a treasure that needs to be protected now and for future generations. Please reinstate the 2001 Roadless Rule so people can continue to experience the benefits of public lands for generations to come.”

Barbara Kelly — Hayward, Wisconsin

“We have learned during this ongoing pandemic how important our public lands are to us. They are good for our mental health and they feed our soul. We need this space to breathe and recharge.”

Bonnie Altshuld — Island Park, Idaho

“I’ve lived in Southeast Alaska since 1962 when my father moved our family from Minnesota to take a job with the Forest Service. From his position as director of the Forestry Sciences lab, he learned quickly how the Tongass was being mismanaged and worked for the rest of his life to change this. No more harvesting of old-growth!”

Bret Schmiege — Juneau, Alaska

“I am writing to you as someone concerned about not only my future, but the future of my three children in light of the catastrophe that we are facing due to climate change, and the role that the impending decision regarding the reinstatement of the Roadless Rule for the Tongass National Forest plays in addressing this very serious situation.”

Brian Graf — Highland Park, New Jersey

“If the proponents of roads and logging would spend one day in the cathedral of this forest, they would see that there is no place for development here. I can tell you first hand that further logging of the Tongass will irreparably damage the fishing and tourism economies of Northern Southeast Alaska. … The Tongass forest … is a priceless gem, not only in Alaska or the northern continent but in the world.”

Bruce Smith and Colleen Stansbury — Gustavus, Alaska

“A healthy old-growth ecosystem is far more valuable than the timber it provides, containing vast amounts of wisdom that threatens extinction by the hands of the shortsighted, unwise, disrespectful political leaders that plague the well-being or our planetary systems. There is an utter lack of understanding in our governmental system towards the divine value and wealth of information these old-growth forests provide. And for the sake of future generations to have the opportunity to experience such a place, I beg you to reinstate the Roadless Rule. These decisions cannot be reversed for the remainder of human existence and we must stop destroying what’s truly valuable in the world before it’s too late.”

Cameron Petersen — Ariel, Washington

“With the adverse effects of climate change already being felt in Southeast Alaska and worldwide, it’s critical to maintain relatively wild areas such as the Tongass National Forest to support our wild salmon that I and so many of my friends and neighbors rely on.”

Carl Schrader — Douglas, Alaska

“Even those of us who live in cities get out and harvest food. I’d appreciate being able to continue living this way and to protect this way of life into the future.”

Carol Dejka — Juneau, Alaska

“Public lands are designed to benefit everyone, not big business and polluters. We must permanently protect old-growth forests, as their majesty is worth far more standing than milled into timber.”

Catherine Croom — Bulverde, Texas

“We currently reap so many rewards financially [from the Tongass] that are often unquantified. Please don’t place the financial well-being of a few over that of the people currently reaping the benefits of the Tongass the way it is. This resource only becomes more valuable the longer we hold onto it.”

Charles McCullough — Petersburg, Alaska

“… the Roadless Rule is not the primary cause of the timber industry’s problems. Too many prior years of excessively high annual harvests, market forces, operator efficiencies, and consolidation of logging and towing contractors into just a few well-connected companies probably are all contributing factors. Because of the importance of the Tongass to global climate change with carbon capture, the highest and best use of the Tongass for its true owners, the people of the United States, is to immediately reinstate the Tongass Roadless Rule protections.”

Charles Wood — Petersburg, Alaska

“It is already the eleventh hour for our forests and the creatures that rely upon them for habitation and sustenance. I find the continued domination of the natural world by corporate interests … astonishing, the benefits of which take from the many and give to but a few. How in God’s name does this even make sense? WE ARE RESPONSIBLE.”

Cheryl Lu Buchanan — Juneau, Alaska

“I lived in Southeast Alaska for almost three years and hiked and explored parts of the Tongass. It is pure magic and you can feel it. I was devastated when I heard that the Roadless Rule was ending and that clearcutting would be allowed in this absolute treasure of a place. Please keep the Roadless Rule and preserve this magic for our children.”

Christina Wright — Covington, Tennessee

“As a resident of northern southeast Alaska, I depend on intact old-growth forest. I eat the salmon and deer that thrive here. I could not live here without them. Wild intact ecosystems also drive sustainable economies that should not be destroyed or diminished for the sake of one largely unsustainable industry — old-growth logging.”

Craig Murdoch — Gustavus, Alaska

“It is incredibly important for us to protect what cannot stand up for itself; this magical landscape, what makes up the Tongass National Forest, is more than worth protecting — it is vital.”

Danielle Elins — Cloverdale, California

“Please, please, please reinstate the Roadless Rule so we can maintain our world-class Tongass wilderness for a sustainable tourism industry here in Juneau. We are not going to gain much from destroying this unique world-class wilderness except for very temporary timber sales to other countries far from our invaluable wild places.”

Dave Haas — Juneau, Alaska

“The importance of preserving old-growth forests and untouched expanses of all forests cannot be overstated. We are all aware of the importance of the forest for fisheries, for subsistence, for sports activities, and for the culture of all persons living in the forest. We all also know the importance of the country’s largest national forest as a carbon sink to combat global climate change. … What is most important to realize is that the Tongass supports many persons in many economic sectors, while the old-growth harvesting industry is small and provides very little lasting impact on the economy of the region.”

Douglas Mertz — Juneau, Alaska

“As a commercial fisherman and an environmental scientist, I depend on healthy forests to financially support my household and in order to have access to healthy, clean, air and water. … I support the activities that were allowed under the 2001 Roadless Rule before the Trump Administration worked so irresponsibly against the will of over 90% of all public comments to exempt Alaska from these critical forest protections. … The ROADLESS RULE IS THE KEY TO PRESERVING OUR GREAT NATION’S LARGEST INTACT TEMPERATE RAINFOREST.”

Elizabeth Figus — Juneau, Alaska

“Please, please help prevent climate change by stopping any destruction of the Tongass National Forest. These last 9 million acres are desperately important to preserve.”

Ellen Sanford — Tiburon, California

“The Tongass National Forest is like no other place on earth. Truly, as the last intact temperate rainforest, it is a landscape that not only supports a vibrant ecosystem but also a vibrant culture that has been connected to this place since time immemorial.”

Emily Ferry — Juneau, Alaska

“The only fools who would consider chopping down the Tongass are those who have not walked the path beneath her ancient trees, floated in her pristine blue waters, fished from her rocky shores, held plush moss between their fingertips, felt the prick of a Devil’s Club plant, or picked the most vibrant blue and red berries on a foggy, rainy day. Shame on the government for trying to build roads to clearcut this land, which has given her people so much. When we are hungry, she feeds us. When we are sick, she heals us. When we are tired, she gives us shelter. When we are poor, she gives us livelihood. Her carbon-storing trees magically contain the cure for climate change. Her breathtaking beauty draws visitors from near and far, providing more sustainable jobs to the area than clearcut logging ever could. Her salmon-stocked streams sustain the coastal communities for millennia. … Do protect the Tongass by reinstating her Roadless Rule protections. Do listen to the scientists who say her green boughs and dark soil beneath shield us from the effects of climate change. Do believe us Southeast Alaskans when we say we need the Tongass — “The Lungs of North America” — with every breath of our being.”

Emily Miller — York, Pennsylvania

“As a lifelong (72 years) Southeast Alaskan dependent on the health of our watersheds and ecosystems for sustenance, and my commercial salmon trolling business I am asking the United States Forest Service to fully reinstate the 2001 Roadless Rule.”

Eric Jordan — Sitka, Alaska

“In my time working for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, the effects of climate change were readily apparent, especially when contrasted with the histories preserved by Tlingit elders. … Preservation and stewardship of the Tongass are key to preserving the culture and way of life of its Indigenous population, sustaining wild fish populations, and slowing the pace and impacts of anthropogenic climate change.”

Esther Kennedy — Anchorage, Alaska

“There is a home in the Tongass National Forest. It may be the home of many of us here in Southeast Alaska, living among the spruce trunks and hemlock branches lurched over with pine cones. But is also the home to a vibrant world of animals, plants, and relatives of ours that we interact with and subsist off of every day.”

Gabrial Canfield — Ketchikan, Alaska

“We as a people have done a magnificent job of exploiting the amazing forests in our care across the United States. In Southeast Alaska, we have one last chance to do the right thing: to keep the forest roadless and intact. The beauty is that if we allow the forest to continue she will give back to us in so many ways but particularly by helping us protect from climate change, by providing a place where a natural ecosystem can continue to teach us how true balance is fostered and reminding us of hope and beauty.”

Gaywynn Cooper — Bainbridge Island, Washington

“I am an ecotourist and outdoor enthusiast who is fortunate to have visited and spent time in the Tongass National Forest … My Daddy asked me once why I wanted to go camping. I told him that the places I wanted to go to don’t have motels. I hike for a similar reason. Those places don’t have and should not have roads and motorized vehicular traffic.”

Henry Westmoreland — Wingdale, New York

“As a commercial fisherman in Southeast Alaska, I’m well aware of how critical a healthy Tongass National Forest is to the fishing industry. For that reason, among many others, I support the reintroduction of the Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest. The temperate rainforests of Southeast Alaska support the only remaining significant salmon runs in the world. Besides being the central pillar of our local culture, the commercial salmon fishing industry nets very many millions of dollars annually and provides economic stability to the many small communities of Southeast Alaska. Compare that with the boom and bust cycles of a timber industry that can’t even pay its own way and relies on government subsidies for road building to even exist.”

Ian Seward — Haines, Alaska

“I grew up in Southeast Alaska, and have been a recreational enthusiast passionate about protecting the outdoors for my 60+ years. I urge you to reinstate the 2001 Roadless Rule so Americans can continue to experience the benefits of these unique public lands for generations to come.”

Jetta Whittaker — Juneau, Alaska

“One of the true values of the Tongass National Forest is as a salmon habitat. The innumerable salmon and spawning rearing streams in this rainforest are essential to huge salmon populations that are the basis of one of the region’s largest industries, commercial fishing (and also to charter sport fishing), and a very important part of the diet of local residents who obtain salmon through sport and subsistence fishing. Other forest resources, from berries to deer to firewood, are important to the local life and economy. Further, the Tongass forest is now recognized as a major carbon storage asset as climate change threatens. On the other side of the ecological balance sheet, the standing trees are now even more important in shielding salmon streams from getting too warm.”

Judith Brakel — Gustavus, Alaska

“As multi-generational commercial fishermen, our livelihood relies on the health of these streams for our salmon runs. It is crucial you protect Southeast Alaska for all that live in our beautiful region.”

Karen and Mark Severson — Petersburg, Alaska

“Since 1972 when I moved from the Lower 48 to choose the area surrounding Frederick Sound and Wrangell Narrows as my chosen place, I have advocated for reasonable and prudent stewardship of the Tongass National Forest. Now at age 73, as a mother to children born in this place, and as a grandmother to children born in this place, it is more important to me than it was when I first entered the land and forests of Southeast Alaska. Habitat that is not roaded is vital for healthy fish and game populations. Habitat, trees, and muskeg are important for carbon sequestration. A Roadless designation will benefit, not harm, the economy of Southeast Alaska.”

Karin McCullough — Petersburg, Alaska

“I’m privileged to have grown up and lived in immediate proximity to the Tongass National Forest since 1962. During that time, I’ve seen so many changes in human development, occupation, exploitation, and changes in nature and the environment. … Reinstating the Roadless Rule is incredibly important to our region, to the country, and to the planet. When I consider upcoming generations of humans and wildlife, climate change is the greatest threat and driver of so many other problems. Maintaining the rest of the Tongass old-growth intact is one important action that we can take now that will extend far beyond my lifetime.”

Karla Hart — Juneau, Alaska

“I am a recreational enthusiast passionate about protecting the outdoors. My family and I, which now includes 2 grandsons, have enjoyed hiking, camping, and fishing in the Tongass for over 50 years. I want this experience to be available for future generations.”

Katherine Ellis — Juneau, Alaska

“The Tongass National Forest has been my home for over 50 years. I moved here when I was 27 years old and I am 82 now. The protection and preservation of our great forest is deeply and critically important to all US citizens. … I will be long gone by the time climate change effects are felt in the supermarkets of Americans, but the reality of climate change is that there is simply not going to be any food for people or animals and other living things. By protecting and preserving the Tongass forest as an intact ecosystem we are doing our best to provide and protect the future of human life on planet Earth.”

Kathrin McCarthy — Juneau, Alaska

“I have had the complete privilege and blessing to live here, in this magnificent forest, for the past six years. It is difficult for me to put into words how much I love and treasure this place. Southeast Alaska has a special place in my heart. From the moment I set foot in this forest, I have been in complete awe and reverence of its beauty and abundance. I am in love with the trees, animals, berries, flowers, mountains, and waters. This place is magical and it provides so many valuable resources to those who live here.”

Kristy Hill — Gustavus, Alaska

“It became clear in the last round of hearings on this issue that, for a wide variety of heartfelt reasons, the vast majority of Southeast Alaska residents embrace the Roadless Rule and do not want to see a return to old-growth logging. It would be great to have our voices heard.”

Larry Landry — Gustavus, Alaska

“The United States has taken the right step in rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, but this commitment means nothing unless our government policies actually enact the steps necessary to limit the rise in global temperatures. Preserving the Tongass is perhaps the most meaningful single step we can take to abide by Article 5 of the Paris Agreement, to conserve and enhance carbon sinks and reservoirs. Since the Tongass sequesters fully 44% of the carbon stored in all United States National Forests, continuing to allow its degradation by logging drastically undercuts our declared commitment — and our chances of handing on a livable planet to future generations.”

Laura Livesay — Eggleston, Pennsylvania

“Our subsistence way of life is threatened when clearcut logging destroys huge swaths of critical old-growth deer habitat and it is essential to protect this use by limiting roads to the substantial, heavily-subsidized network of roads already constructed to access timber in recent decades. Reinstating the Roadless Rule means that large portions of the Tongass National Forest will remain undeveloped, un-roaded, and unlogged. The existing extensive network of roads is more than adequate. Remaining undeveloped areas of the forest should be protected from road entry.”

Leon Shaul — Douglas, Alaska

“I was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska, and have loved the outdoors since I was young. Growing up among the wilderness is the best gift anyone can ever receive. Furthermore, now as a young adult who has catered to the tourism community in Juneau, it is so fulfilling to be able to show our beautiful environment and the community that goes with it to those who have never experienced it.”

Lila Quigley — Juneau, Alaska

“The remaining old-growth forests of the Tongass are simply irreplaceable and more valuable than any short-term gain that those who would destroy them seek. Further, they would rob future generations from their birthright both for those who live here and for all Americans. Please never allow this national treasure to ever be threatened again. Please fully reinstate the Roadless Rule on the Tongass National Forest and provide meaningful consultation with Southeast Alaskan Tribal Nations in the stewardship of these lands and waters.”

Linda Shaw — Juneau, Alaska

“Being part of a vibrant and productive ecosystem has allowed our small, natural resource-based business to flourish and create jobs in rural Alaska. We’ve been in business for almost 7 years and each year have grown stronger and more successful thanks to the fish that keep coming back. … Ultimately, carbon storage and sequestration have to be our first priority in land management. Luckily on the Tongass if we manage for high carbon storage forests, we also preserve vital habitat for fish and game, subsistence practices, visitor industries, and recreation, as well as the fishing industry I am a proud member of. This is a real win-win for local communities and climate.”

Malena Marvin — Petersburg, Alaska

“The Tongass National Forest is a vital component of food being put on the table. …There are not many places in the United States that afford families the chance to provide for themselves with the abundant food from land and sea. If you alter the Tongass in ways that don’t allow for deer populations to feed, reproduce, and survive the winters in old-growth forest, salmon to reproduce in healthy streams, and understory berries and herbs to grow, then you take away the ability for those that live here to feed themselves from the land.”

Maria Byford — Wrangell, Alaska

“… The Tongass and all of its ecosystems are the framework of sustaining our unique way of life in Southeast Alaska. As a resident of this region in Alaska, me and my family, we depend on the health of our watersheds and ecosystems to sustain and maintain life as our families have done for generations.”

Mario Fulmer — Juneau, Alaska

“I am an Alaskan living in Europe temporarily, but long enough now to feel the tremendous loss of living without true wilderness. This continent has been mowed, plowed, and trodden over for centuries, and while it’s beautiful in its own right, it’s kind of like a veggie burger. It’s okay for what it is, but it’s a far cry from the real thing. The world needs wilderness, even simply to know it exists in some special places like the Tongass.”

Mark Gnadt — Juneau, Alaska

“I am a longtime Southeast Alaska resident passionate about protecting the outdoors. These forests, mountains, and waters are essential to my personal health and well-being, and that of my family and neighbors. I recreate here on an almost daily basis, hiking, skiing, backpacking, boating, kayaking, fishing, ice skating, birding, gathering food, and more. This place is essential to my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Southeast Alaska communities are dependent on the health of our forest and aquatic communities for their economic, physical, and mental well-being.”

Mary Hausler — Juneau, Alaska

“I retired from the fishing industry at the end of 2015 having the good fortune of spending the last part of my working life working salmon seasons in Alaska, at the end of most of those summers I had a week to go camping and fishing. … I am older and still go camping and fishing, backpacking in Wilderness Areas. I want future generations to be able to have the same opportunities I’ve had.”

Maxwell Klare — Condon, Oregon

“Intact ecosystems are the economic backbone of Southeast Alaska. Large-scale logging is in direct conflict with our fishing, ecotourism, and subsistence economies. … The last administration chose to ignore the overwhelming support for the roadless rule from Native tribes and the majority of local residents. Reinstating the Roadless Rule will honor the will of the people and will ensure that large portions of the Tongass National Forest remain undeveloped, un-roaded, and unlogged for future generations.”

Nancy Ratner — Douglas, Alaska

“In addition to safeguarding wild salmon habitat, the Roadless Rule minimizes pressure on and helps protect customary and traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering areas (subsistence) in the Tongass — the traditional homeland of the forest’s Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Tribal citizens.”

Nevette Bowen — Petersburg, Alaska

“Just like how the governmental systems that regulate natural resources are highly complex, so are Southeast Alaska’s old-growth forests — only so much more complex. Removing swaths of old-growth forests would be removing a critical part of Southeast Alaska’s ecosystem.”

Nick Whicker — Ketchikan, Alaska

“Allowing further logging in Southeast Alaska is a suicidally stupid proposition. Alaska’s old-growth forests are some of the largest unmolested carbon sinks in the world, containing 44% of the US’s current sequestration capacity. Don’t be myopic. Reinstate the roadless rule. Protect the economy and our planet in the process. And don’t screw over the Indigenous people whose land we’re on by ripping it to shreds with logging!”

Noah Williams — Juneau, Alaska

“In 2020, the Trump Administration removed environmental protections for over 9 million acres of the Tongass that Alaskans rely on for their livelihoods and ways of life. This decision went against the overwhelming response from Alaska Native Tribes, commercial fishermen, and Alaskans and Americans in support of keeping these protections in place. I want to voice my strong support for reinstating the Roadless Rule for the Tongass. I have been an Alaska resident since 1973 and a Southeast Alaska resident since 1984. My friends and I love the Tongass and we want what is left of old-growth forests to remain intact. We use the Tongass for a variety of activities including hiking, skiing, bird watching, animal watching, berry picking, mushroom hunting, subsistence hunting, fishing, and much more.”

Roman Motyka — Juneau, Alaska

“My family is dependent on the health of the Southeast Alaska fisheries both as commercial fishermen and for subsistence fishing.”

Sally McGuire — Haines, Alaska

“… More and more research supports the obvious, that exposure to nature is good for people. I am one of many people who have visited Alaska to experience its wild places, which support an ecotourism and recreation industry that contributes significantly, and long-term, to the local economy.”

Stephen Greenfield — Minneapolis, Minnesota

“For the past 38 years, I have lived (in Elfin Cove and now in Gustavus) intimately with the Tongass. I made my living first as a commercial salmon fisherman, then charter fishing, then in the sight-seeing tourism. My training as Wildlife Biologist and my personal experience has shown how important it is to have an intact forest. Now my young son is pursuing the same vocations. It is critical that the Tongass remains intact for his future and for every other future resident of Southeast.”

Steven and Debbie Hemenway — Gustavus, Alaska

“I am writing because I depend on coho salmon and black-tailed deer to feed my family. Those animals, in turn, require healthy forests to thrive.”

Zachary Brown — Gustavus, Alaska

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