(WASHINGTON, January 22, 2018) – The state of Alaska is attempting to repeal long-standing protections for old-growth forests by requesting an exemption to the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
The following statement is from Megan Birzell, National Forests Campaign Manager:
“The state of Alaska, in seeking an exemption from the Roadless Rule, is prioritizing profits to the timber industry over balanced management that benefits all Alaskans. Allowing roads through the Tongass National Forest’s roadless areas for the express purpose of cutting down old-growth forest would jeopardize clean air, water and our climate.
“Exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule would put protections for all roadless areas nationwide into question. Senator Murkowski has already attempted to undermine this important conservation rule through legislative means. These attempts underscore the unprecedented attack on public lands we’re seeing at all levels of government.”
Tongass National Forest
At 16.5 million acres, Tongass National Forest is more than half as big as the entire state of North Carolina. And while the forest is best known for its wide expanses of Sitka spruce, western hemlock and cedar, it is also geologically and climatically diverse enough to accommodate majestic glaciers and icefields. The trees themselves are remarkable for their size and longevity –some up to 800 years old. Over one-third of the Tongass National Forest is designated as federal wilderness, containing habitat for a variety of wildlife, including brown and black bears, mountain goats, black-tailed deer, wolverines, river otters, harbor seals and bald eagles. The forest’s waterways also produce 80 percent of the commercial salmon harvested from Southeast Alaska.
Roadless Area Conservation Rule
Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2001 protected 58.5 million acres of America’s roadless national forests. Undertaken by the US Forest Service in 1999, its development was supported by many diverse stakeholders and involved one of the most extensive public participation undertakings in the history of federal rulemaking. More than 1.6 million people commented during the rulemaking process, with 95 percent supporting strong roadless area protection. The rule has withstood numerous legal challenges in the past 16 years since its adoption, including landmark decisions upholding the rule in both the 9th and 10th circuit courts of appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to overturn those decisions.
Anastasia Greene, Regional Communications Manager – WA, OR, N. CA, 540-207-3162, firstname.lastname@example.org
Megan Birzell, National Forests Campaign Manager, 206-348-3597, email@example.com