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Aerial view of waterways and islands of forests of the Tongass National Forest, with low clouds overhead.
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

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U.S. Forest Service Restores Tongass Roadless Protections

Forest is a cornerstone of Southeast Alaska’s ecology, culture and economy

The following is a statement by Steve Cohn, state director of The Nature Conservancy’s Alaska chapter, after the U.S. Forest Service announced it would restore roadless protections on Tongass National Forest:

“Today, the administration honored decades of progress toward a sustainable future for the Tongass. Unsustainable development jeopardizes critical wildlife habitat and salmon runs that are a cornerstone of Southeast Alaska’s ecology, culture and economy. The steps announced today will ensure these values remain intact.

“Throughout the rulemaking process during the previous administration, an exemption from roadless protections was not supported by the vast majority of the public, Southeast Alaskan communities and all cooperating tribes. That decision rejected collaborative pathways laid out by diverse stakeholders, prioritizing a singular use for the forest that moved attention and resources away from work the U.S. Forest Service could be doing to further enhance the forest’s benefits.

“We are pleased that progress has been made on the Tongass over the past decade to move away from conflict and litigation by encouraging collaboration and community engagement. We believe restoring roadless protections and investing in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s complementary Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy will get us back on track toward a brighter future for the people and nature of the forest.”

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 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, 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.