WASHINGTON – The Department of Agriculture today announced that it will open vast swaths of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska to logging and development, a move that tramples Indigenous rights, and threatens one of our biggest carbon sinks, which is vital for mitigating the climate crisis.
More than 9 million acres of old-growth forest in the Tongass have been preserved for decades as undeveloped “roadless” areas to protect the sensitive ecology of a temperate rainforest that is vital to Alaska Native tribes, fish, wildlife, and the recreation, tourism, and commercial fishing industries that are the region’s economic lifeblood.
The following is a statement from Niel Lawrence, Alaska director and senior attorney for the Nature program at NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council):
“These pristine wildlands are vital to customary and traditional practices of the region’s Native peoples, and to climate mitigation and local economies.
“The Tongass is our largest expanse of undisturbed forest, rich with wildlife that is imperiled elsewhere in the country, and key to thriving runs of all five salmon species. We’ve fought for decades to protect the Tongass, and we’ll keep on suing if that’s what it takes to fend off this outrageous move.”
When President Clinton enacted what is known as the “Roadless Rule” nearly 20 years ago, nearly 95% of public comments on the rule favored protecting the area. Support for protecting these pristine stretches of America’s last great public forestland runs as high or higher today.
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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC