Skip to main content

Tongass Roadless Exemption

Bears hunt for salmon in Alaska's Tongass National Forest.

For the Tongass National Forest, last week brought a long-overdue agency action that helped offset an unfortunate court decision.

The Tongass stretches 500 miles by 100 miles through the islands of Alaska's southeast panhandle. In a day you can walk from its cold North Pacific waters up salmon-filled streams, through lush ancient rainforest to jagged alpine peaks overlooking massive icefields and glaciers.

Time has run out for the enemies of roadless wilderness. They spent 12 years trying to kill the national law protecting our forests, and yesterday a federal district court said they couldn’t have a minute more—the statute of limitations had run out.

This means you better grab a compass when heading into a national forest because you can get lost amid all the trees saved by this law, known as the Roadless Rule.

Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is as much ocean as land. It includes saltwater bays, fjords, canals, channels, and too many islands to count.

At this intersection of land and ocean, life flourishes where forest creeks and streams empty nutrients into shallow saltwater bays. Among other species, dungeness crabs flourish, fed seasonally by the carcasses of spawned out salmon.

One such estuary 20 miles south of Petersburg in Alexander Bay is a place called the Pothole. It’s named for the crab pots used by the commercial crab fishery that thrives there.

Two longtime bachelors are proving that it’s never too late to find love.

Al (widowed) and Tex (serially dater) were getting up there in the years and were perhaps more than a bit rusty on the romance angle, neither having enjoyed the company of the fairer sex for decades. But when the lovely Patches and coquettish Corky came to town, all bets were off and these old-timers were back in the game. The girls were nearly half their age, but love knows no boundaries—and these Aldabra giant tortoises were no exception.

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, adopted at the end of the Clinton administration, banned most logging and road-building on the last 58.5 million unspoiled and unprotected acres on the national forests. It was immediately challenged by states, timber companies and other interests in nine lawsuits, one of which is still awaiting final resolution.

America's largest national forest -- the Tongass in Alaska -- has been given another year's reprieve from most logging and mining by the Obama administration. Protecting the forest has long been the focus of Earthjustice legal efforts. As reported by the Associated Press:

The Obama administration Friday extended for another year the moratorium on most logging and mining in millions of acres of remote and rugged backcountry sections of national forests.