Right now, we have an opportunity to weigh in on one of the most dangerous environmental proposals to come out of the Trump administration.
Alaska's Tongass is our largest national forest and is referred to as the "crown jewel" of the National Forest System. For nearly 20 years, the Roadless Rule has protected 9 million acres of watersheds, old-growth forests, and habitat in the Tongass from being destroyed. Now, the Trump administration is rolling back those Roadless Rule protections. That would mean slashing protections for an area bigger than Yellowstone, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined and opening it up to logging, road building, and extraction.
This development would threaten the wolves, northern goshawks, bears, and five species of salmon that call the Tongass home. It would be devastating to the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people who rely on the land for cultural and traditional practices like hunting and fishing, and put Southeast Alaska’s thriving tourism and commercial fishing industries at risk.
Slashing protections for the Tongass would also set a dangerous precedent for public lands across the country. If corporations can clear-cut the Tongass, then no national forest is truly safe.
This would be a disaster for our climate.
When we think of climate action, the first thing that comes to mind might be shutting down coal plants or investing in clean energy. But one of the most important ways we can address the climate crisis is by focusing on forests. Forests store more carbon per acre than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet and old-growth forests tend to store significantly more carbon. The Tongass alone holds about 650 million tons of carbon, which roughly converts to half of US carbon dioxide emissions in 2017. Logging the old-growth trees there would release that carbon into the atmosphere.
We know the next few years are critical if we’re going to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Right now, our public lands are part of the climate problem, but they could be part of the solution. This extreme proposal from the Trump administration is a step in exactly the wrong direction.
We’re fighting back.
Since Trump released this dangerous proposal, the Sierra Club and our partners in Alaska and around the country have been working to send a strong message to the Forest Service that old-growth forests like the Tongass are no place for logging and extraction.
Dozens attended public hearings in Alaska and Washington D.C., and more than 25,000 more Sierra Club members and supporters have submitted online comments in favor of keeping strong protections for our forests in place.
Make sure you join them before the comment period ends on December 16. Add your voice in favor of keeping the Tongass intact!