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forests

In a world where a forest the size of Germany is leveled and burned every year... where formerly fertile farmlands have been reduced to desert...where biblical-sized drought has caused communities to crumble and pushed nations into war... humankind must either join the fight to change the course of history or risk dooming the planet.

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.

A fracking drill rig.

Colorado has emerged as a western ground zero in the fracking boom, with more than 50,000 active wells in the state and 3,000 wells permitted annually on average in recent years. The state is struggling to deal with this staggering growth as well as the changing nature of the industry as operations have moved into communities along the Front Range.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be done protecting Forest Service roadless areas because they were all protected? If you have followed the tortured history of President Clinton’s national Roadless Area Conservation Rule—which Earthjustice defended for more than a decade, with success—you’d be forgiven for thinking that 2001 rule settled the matter.

An airplane passes over Desolation Canyon, UT.

“If you want to see the places we’ve helped protect, ask for a window seat.”

So reads my favorite Earthjustice message, decorating airports across the country. It’s true: 35,000 feet is a great vantage to see the forests, mountains and river canyons that are intact, unroaded and resilient thanks to our legal work with many allies.

A traditional road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway provides many “oohs” and “ahhs” along the majestic ocean, and for good reason. The turquoise water and rolling hills encourage exploration around every twist in the road. Yet, through a 320-mile bike journey, I’ve learned that all senses are heightened when on two wheels. Our dynamic team of four women joined Climate Ride, a charitable bike ride, in an effort to fight climate change.

Our homelands—the Arctic wildlife and ecosystems that are the foundation of our culture and traditional ways of life—are fast changing. Arctic warming has made the weather, the condition of the ice, and the behaviors and location of fish and wildlife so unpredictable that our Elders no longer feel confident teaching younger people traditional ways. If we cannot effectively pass on our traditional ways to the younger generations, we fear for what will happen to our culture.

It's hard to know, sometimes, who to trust with America’s wildlife.

For the most part, wildlife is managed by individual states, which do some good science and issue tags for hunting licenses. They are also, theoretically, on the front lines of ensuring that wildlife species don’t get into such trouble that the federal government needs to step in under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act.

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.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.