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Tongass Roadless Exemption

Located in Alaska's panhandle, the Tongass is the country's largest national forest—and home to nearly one-third of all old-growth temperate rainforest remaining in the entire world.

Located in Alaska's panhandle, the Tongass is the country's largest national forest—and home to nearly one-third of all old-growth temperate rainforest remaining in the entire world.

Lee Prince / Shutterstock

What's at Stake

The Tongass—America’s largest and wildest national forest—is filled with centuries-old towering trees.

Tongass roadless areas are needed to maintain healthy populations of many wildlife species. It is vital for the region's tourism industry, as well as commercial fishing, subsistence, and recreation.

Case Overview

In 2009, a diverse coalition of Alaska Native, tourism industry, and environmental organizations challenged the Bush administration's 2003 rule "temporarily" exempting southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest—the nation's largest and wildest—from the landmark 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

Tongass roadless areas are needed to maintain healthy populations of wolves, bears, goshawks, deer, marten, and five species of Pacific salmon, among other species. These places are vital for the region's tourism industry as well as commercial fishing, sport hunting and fishing, subsistence, and recreation.

The American public has overwhelmingly supported including the Tongass in the Roadless Rule.

The rationale for temporarily exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule was flawed when adopted and is even more anomalous today.

The enormous cost of building roads into Tongass roadless areas greatly exceeds the value of the timber and requires unconscionable federal taxpayer subsidies. The Forest Service should stop building these wasteful roads and focus instead on restoring degraded watersheds and unmaintained roads resulting from decades of misguided forest policy.

Case Updates

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