Washington Wild Leads Local Efforts to Support Reinstating Roadless Area Protections in the Tongass National Forest
Yesterday marked the end of the 60-day formal comment period to collect public input on the Biden Administration’s proposal to restore National Forest Roadless Area protections in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.
The proposal would reinstate a Trump Administration repeal of the Alaska Roadless Rule, which stripped away long-standing protections for nine million acres under the 2001 Roadless Rule, a federal safeguard that restricts logging and roadbuilding in designated wild areas.
Over 175,000 comments from across the Nation were submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the U.S. Forest Service, calling for the restoration of Roadless Rule protections.
Washington Wild led local efforts with a grassroots action alert that generated over 530 comments. In addition, a joint comment letter coordinated by Washington Wild garnered 223 signatures from local stakeholders, including over 100 local state, county, and municipal elected officials who support Roadless Area protections in Washington and in the Tongass.
“Washington State Legislators, Mayors and County Commissioners have joined local land trusts, hunters and anglers and recreational users to show strong support for President Biden’s proposal to restore national forest roadless area protections in Alaska’s iconic Tongass National Forest,” said Tom Uniack, Executive Director of Washington Wild in a press release. “They know that if Alaska’s roadless area protections are repealed, Washington’s two million acres of federally protected wildlife habitat clean water sources, and ancient forests will be next.”
Here in Washington State, we have just over 2 million acres of roadless areas, including places like South Quinault Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula, the Dark Divide in southwest Washington, and the Kettle Range in the eastern part of the state. They are a critical part of the quality of life we have come to expect. Roadless forests provide much of our clean and safe drinking water, protect fish and wildlife, and provide amazing back country recreation experiences.
Conserving old-growth forests in the Tongass and similar carbon-rich mature and old-growth forests in protected roadless areas across Washington state is one of the single biggest and boldest steps the Administration can take to address the climate change and biodiversity crises.
Read the full press release here.