Scientists call the Tongass National Forest in Alaska the “lungs of our country” because it can store close to a billion tons of climate-warming carbon — keeping that carbon from being released into the atmosphere. However, for decades the logging industry has been given a pass to clear-cut the Tongass, turning this ancient forest into a carbon emitter. We have sounded the alarm about this fight on several occasions — and it’s more urgent now than ever. With less than a decade left before the damage from climate change becomes irreversible, we need these trees standing and growing now. Tell the Biden administration to defend the Tongass and all our temperate rainforests.
Under the Trump administration, the Forest Service withdrew protections for the Tongass established under the Roadless Rule and pursued clear-cut logging across the forest. These actions ignored the repeated requests from Alaska Native Tribes in the region urging a halt to the destruction of this essential ecosystem that supports the traditional lifeways, medicine, and food systems of the region’s indigenous communities.
The Roadless Rule, implemented 20 years ago, prevents clearcutting and other damaging activities in about 56 million acres of national forests across the country. The Biden administration needs to take decisive action to respect people’s wishes and preserve the Tongass by reinstating the Roadless Rule and stopping all commercial old-growth logging in the Tongass.
While protecting the Tongass is a critical part of cutting our carbon emissions, the Tongass is also a globally significant temperate rainforest that should be protected for its amazing lands and wildlife, which support vital ways of life for Alaska Native people and local economies based on the natural forest, like salmon fishing and tourism.
The Biden administration can restore roadless area protections to the Tongass and go further by protecting all of the Tongass and old-growth federal forests in the Pacific Northwest from clear-cut logging. This administration must put public interest over corporate profits and protect our national forests and our climate for future generations!