Conservationists ask the Forest Service to Protect the Tongass, America’s Rainforest

175,000 public comments submitted to the Forest Service


Brian Smith, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2014


Gwen Dobbs, Alaska Wilderness League, (202) 544-5205


Jeff Benzak, NRDC, (202) 513-6248

Members of the environmental community made the following statements today after the June 30 closure of the public comment period for the Tongass National Forest’s five-year review of its Land Management Plan. Members of the organizations submitting these statements delivered a combined 175,000 public comments to the Forest Service. The Land Management Plan includes guidance on how the U.S. Forest Service manages the forest’s old-growth trees.

175,000 public comments were submitted
to the U.S. Forest Service. (Larger image)

Cindy Shogan, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League:
“By protecting some of the oldest trees in the United States from more clear-cutting, we do more than just preserve our national heritage for our children—we also protect two big industries, fishing and tourism, that are absolutely crucial to Alaska’s economy. Combined, they’re worth more than $2 billion to the area. For the good of Alaska’s economy—and America’s natural heritage—now is the time for the Forest Service to act.”

Niel Lawrence, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council:
“The Forest Service has a choice to make. It can continue down the path of unsustainable, old-growth logging in the Tongass, or it can listen to the thousands of Americans who in their public comments today have stated loud and clear: Do all that you can to protect this national treasure.”

Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. (USDA)

Tom Waldo, Senior Staff Attorney, Earthjustice: “More than three years ago the Forest Service said it wanted to move away from large-scale logging of old-growth forests in the Tongass. Like the thousands of Americans whose voices are being heard today, we support that move. What we all want to see here—and quickly—is a concrete plan that turns the Forest Service’s vision into reality.”

Brian Moore, Legislative Director, National Audubon Society:
“Every year that goes by, unsustainable logging practices destroy old-growth trees in America’s largest national forest. In 2010, the Forest Service said it wanted to put a new plan in place to protect these huge trees and the unique wildlife habitat they create. Fortunately, the Forest Service has the power to put a plan in motion.”

Athan Manuel, Director, Lands Protection Program, Sierra Club:
“Deforestation in the Tongass National Forest will worsen climate disruption in an area that is already warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. The Forest Service has a vision to protect the Tongass. Following the announcement of the President’s climate plan, now is the time to follow through.”

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