Aerial view of Alaska's Tongass National Forest.
Tongass National Forest In the Tongass National Forest old-growth forests of yellow cedar and red cedar, Sitka spruce and Western hemlock stand like wild cathedrals. © Erika Nortemann/TNC

Newsroom

Administration Opens Tongass to Logging

Exemption from roadless rule jeopardizes wildlife habitat, salmon fisheries.

The following is a statement by Steve Cohn, state director of The Nature Conservancy’s Alaska chapter, after the Trump administration announced it will exempt Tongass National Forest from the federal Roadless Rule, reversing protections on more than half of one of the largest temperate rainforests from logging and roadbuilding:

“Today, the administration turned its back on decades of progress toward a sustainable future for Tongass. Unsustainable development will jeopardize critical wildlife habitat and salmon runs that are a cornerstone of Southeast Alaska’s ecology, culture and economy. 

Over the past decade, the Tongass has moved away from conflict and litigation by encouraging collaboration and community engagement, but this decision will only bring about a return to that conflict.

Steve Cohn State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Alaska

“Throughout the rulemaking process, this course of action was not supported by the vast majority of the public, Southeast Alaskan communities and all cooperating tribes. It rejects collaborative pathways laid out by diverse stakeholders, prioritizing a singular use for the forest that will only move attention and resources away from work the U.S. Forest Service could be doing to further enhance the forest’s benefits.

“Over the past decade, the Tongass has moved away from conflict and litigation by encouraging collaboration and community engagement, but this decision will only bring about a return to that conflict.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.