With today’s introduction of the Tongass Rainforest Conservation Act, the American people have renewed hope that Congress will preserve the forest conservation legacy begun a century ago by President Teddy Roosevelt. The bill was introduced by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
“We applaud Representative DeLauro for her leadership in protecting America’s Rainforest,” said Sarah Wilhoite, Legislative Representative for Earthjustice. “Wilderness protection for the roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest would end efforts by the administration and the Alaska delegation to sell off our natural heritage to logging interests.”
The bill provides protection for more than nine million acres of pristine national forest lands in Southeast Alaska. These lands contain some of the best remaining fish and wildlife habitat in the national forest system. The Tongass is home to grizzly bear, wolves, bald eagles, and many other species that have disappeared from other places in the U.S. These areas are important to safeguard for future generations so that they can enjoy their natural wonder. The intact temperate rainforest is also a destination for tourists from around the world and provides unparalleled sport and commercial fishing opportunities.
“The administration has taken numerous steps over the past six years to undermine protections for the Tongass and appease big timber,” Wilhoite added. “The most blatant was declaring that protections afforded every other forest in the National Forest System from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2001 do not apply to America’s largest.”
The Tongass Rainforest Conservation Act will safeguard one of America’s last pristine wild forests by providing wilderness protection, wild and scenic river designations and other critical forest protections.
“The introduction of this legislation couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tongass,” Wilhoite said. “In June of this year, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, and for the third time in four years, to limit taxpayer-subsidized road-building in the forest, However, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) is pursuing a measure that would help the Forest Service open Tongass roadless areas to logging.”