Victory for the Tongass National Forest

Bears around a downed tree in the Tongass National Forest

A year ago, Oregon Wild advocates joined activists from across the country and urged the Forest Service to restore protections and end old-growth logging on forests across the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. 

This week, those efforts finally paid off! From the New York Times:

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it has banned logging and road-building on about nine million acres of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, aiming to settle a two-decade battle over the fate of North America’s largest temperate rainforest.

The new rule reinstates protections in the pristine Alaskan backcountry that were first imposed in 2001 but stripped away by President Donald J. Trump in 2020.

In addition to prohibiting road construction — a first step toward new logging — the United States Forest Service plan also puts an end to large-scale logging of old-growth timber across the forest’s entire 16 million acres.

The Tongass is a temperate rainforest that draws visitors from around the globe and provides habitat for an abundance of wildlife including grizzly bears, bald eagles, and wolves. It is the ancestral homeland of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples. The Tongass also serves as the country’s largest forest carbon sink, making its protection critical for U.S. efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to set a global example.

This is an incredible victory for our forests and climate, but also a reminder that sometimes progress comes slowly. The new protections and end of old-growth logging in the Tongass comes from decades of work by local tribes and our allies at Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska Wilderness Council, and many many more!

Now, on to protecting our nation’s other mature and old-growth forests and a natural climate solution!

You can learn more about the Tongass National Forest by watching our 2021 webcast with Sally Schlichting, Environmental Policy Analyst with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. This presentation features the fish, wildlife, and human communities that depend on the Tongass - and an exploration of how preserving it and other mature and old-growth forests is key to combating climate change.