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Trump administration to gut Roadless Rule, inviting disaster to the Tongass National Forest

by Katie Nelson

September 24, 2020

Dismantling the Roadless Rule opens up Alaska's Tongass National Forest to clearcut logging on more than nine million acres of intact and old growth forest

© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

Washington, DC — Tomorrow, the Trump administration will release its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the Roadless Rule in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, finalizing its intent to fully dismantle the 2001 conservation measure. Once the record of decision is filed, a new wave of clearcut logging on more than nine million acres of intact and old growth forest will be possible — an environmental, economic and cultural disaster for the region.

In January, the Forest Service received a quarter of a million comments in response to this proposal to raze the Roadless Rule. Despite 96% of those comments voicing support for keeping the Roadless Rule and Alaskan forests intact, the Trump administration moved forward with tomorrow’s announcement.

In response, Greenpeace USA Senior Forests Campaigner Dr. Amy Moas said: 

Gutting the Roadless Rule will open the gates for devastating impacts in this country’s largest national forest the Tongass National Forest. This move by the Trump administration has irreversible ecological consequences, and sets a dangerous precedent for timber industry lobbyists and politicians in other states to secure access to our prized wild places.

Forests are our guardians in our fight against the climate crisis, and we need forest protections more than ever if we are to avoid the worst impacts of the growing climate emergency. Greenlighting logging, road building, and other destructive development in previously untouched portions of our national forests will be catastrophic for our future both increasing pollution and limiting our ability to reduce it. And what’s more, a healthy Tongass is essential to the wellbeing of Alaska Natives, the local economy in Southeast Alaska, and an abundance of wildlife. 

“With this announcement, it’s imperative that Congress acts. We need our legislators to codify one of the most popular conservation measures of the last century so nothing and no one can threaten our last wild places again. The Roadless Area Conservation Act could reverse this decision and place wildlife, recreation, and the health of our planet at the center of intact wild places instead of the interests of wealthy elites. Without forests, we are without a future.”

The FEIS is one of the last steps in the overall rulemaking process. The record of decision  sealing the fate of the Tongass National Forest is expected in roughly 30 days. 

Greenpeace activists staged the Trump Administration’s destruction of the Tongass National Forest in response to rollbacks to the Roadless Rule. Greenpeace USA and its allies are calling on Congress to support the Roadless Area Conservation Act to codify protections for our last remaining wild places. 

Photos of the activity are available here: https://media.greenpeace.org/shoot/27MDHUZ5C4N

Notes:

To maintain independence, Greenpeace USA does not endorse or oppose any political party, candidate, or elected official. We work to hold all candidates for office to the standard that science says is necessary to avert climate crisis, which means supporting a Green New Deal and ending fossil fuels.

Contact:

Katie Nelson, Strategic Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (678) 644-1681, [email protected] 

Katie Nelson

By Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson is a Senior Communications Specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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