Speak Up for the Ancient Forests our Planet Needs

We’re one step closer to restoring Roadless Rule protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, but we need your help. Read more about where ongoing efforts to protect the Tongass currently stand and how you can help secure this huge win for climate, recreation, and communities in Alaska and beyond.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
December 14, 2021
Speak Up for the Ancient Forests our Planet Needs

We’ve been on a long journey to protect Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Like many conservation issues, the fight to preserve swaths of ancient, old-growth trees in the Tongass from logging and development is an ongoing story with some twists, turns, and some chapters still to be written. Over the years, we’ve asked you to take action on this issue because protecting roadless areas in Alaska sets a strong precedent for protecting our wild backcountry places here in Washington and beyond.

Over the summer, we shared an exciting step of the journey: the administration honored its pledge to reinstate Roadless Rule protections for the Tongass National Forest by announcing plans to roll back the exemption put in place by the previous administration. In order to do so, the administration now needs to collect further public input and finalize a new regulation reinstating these important protections.

While this would be an important win for conservation and the climate, it would also serve as a sign of progress toward stronger relationships between Indigenous Tribes and the U.S. government. This move is part of a larger shift by the administration to prioritize earlier, more robust consultation with Tribal Nations, something that would contribute to lasting progress for Indigenous communities in Alaska and across the U.S.

Take Action

It’s looking likely that roadless protections for the Tongass will be reinstated, but we need your help to get it over the finish line. In late November, the administration announced a two-month comment period to allow the public to weigh in on the Forest Service’s plan to reinstate Roadless Rule protections for the Tongass.

During this ongoing effort, Mountaineers members have sent hundreds of letters to federal land managers and members of Congress in support of roadless protections for the Tongass. We’re on the brink of a monumental conservation win thanks to your advocacy. But we can’t stop now: we’re asking you to join us once again in support of the Roadless Rule to protect the Tongass. Use our easy tool below to send a comment directly to the U.S. Forest Service, letting them know why protecting the Tongass and the Roadless Rule are important to you.

Comment Now

As you may know, the Roadless Rule is an important conservation tool that protects many of our most valued backcountry landscapes, including many in Washington, from logging, road building, and other development. Learn why roadless areas and the Tongass National Forest are important to conservationists in Washington and across the country:

America’s climate forest

The Tongass’s 16.7 million acres makes up 80 percent of the land of Southeast Alaska. Without roadless protections, the Tongass could be opened up to logging, road building, and other intensive development. The current proposed plan would once again protect more than 9 million acres. Without protection, development could permanently alter the Tongass National Forest and cause ripple effects for our climate and communities.

The Tongass’s nickname as “America’s climate forest” isn’t just a catchy moniker. The Tongass contains nearly a third of all that remains of the world’s rare old-growth temperate rainforest. The ancient trees in the Tongass combat climate change, storing 8% of the carbon captured on National Forest lands across the entire country. Logging in the Tongass risks releasing centuries worth of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere that would complicate our current effort to curb our carbon emissions to fight the climate crisis.

Washington connections

As federally managed public land, the Tongass belongs to everyone and matters beyond Alaska. In Washington State more than most areas, we share close business, economic, and cultural connections to Southeast Alaska. Maybe you’ve had the opportunity to visit - or even live in - Alaska and experience the beauty and wonder of the Tongass National Forest up close. Protecting these wild areas from development would protect the many benefits of world-renowned backcountry recreation and tourism in Southeast Alaska.

As Mountaineers, we know how important these old-growth forests are - it’s why our community has been advocating for roadless protections for the Tongass for years. While these proposed protections for the Tongass wouldn’t be permanent, they would ensure the near-term protection of this spectacular landscape and set the stage for more permanent protections. For more on what permanent protection could look like, check out our previous story on the Roadless Area Conservation Act.

The Forest Service is currently accepting comments on this proposed rule through January 24, 2022, but don’t delay - share why protecting the Tongass is important to you today. Personalizing your comments is always encouraged and is proven to ensure a greater impact.

Take Action

We appreciate working with our partners at Outdoor Alliance on this issue.

Lead image of the Tongass National Forest, by Howie Garber.