WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration finalized its proposal to allow logging and road building in previously protected areas of the Tongass National Forest. Specifically, the new regulation would declare “The Roadless Rule” to be null and void as it relates to the largest forest in the U.S. forest system.
The Roadless Rule was adopted in 2001 by the Clinton administration and has kept wild spaces wild in America’s national forests by protecting areas where neither logging nor road building exist. Leading up to the Clinton-era rule, more than 1.6 million citizens commented on it, and nearly half the comments—700,000 in all—came via efforts by Environment America’s network.
The Tongass comprises 16.8 million acres -- of which 9.2 million acres (55 percent) are designated as roadless areas. Those acres are now subject to this new rollback. With this record of decision, the rule is final but will face court challenges.
Steve Blackledge, Conservation Program senior director for Environment America, issued the following statement:
“We need more nature in our lives and more expansive wild places where wildlife can thrive. This administration doesn’t get that. With this rule, it is inviting the timber industry to set up shop in the wildest parts of the Tongass National Forest.
“Damaging the Tongass in this way is like demolishing a log cabin for kindling to toast marshmallows -- it’s a shockingly short-sighted decision that trades something permanent and wondrous for something of fleeting value.
“We call on Congress to pass the Roadless Area Conservation Act, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Maria Cantwell and in the House by Rep. Ruben Gallego, to prevent this and future administrations from heading down such a reckless anti-conservation path.”
Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy.