Statement: Biden Administration Restores Protections To 9.2 Million Acres Of Roadless Forest

Media Contacts
Dyani Chapman

Alaska Environment State Director

Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

WASHINGTON — In the final step to reverse a Trump-era environmental threat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Wednesday that they will restore 2001 Roadless Rule protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The Tongass provides critical habitat for wildlife, including an untold number of birds, bears and salmon and plays a critical role as a natural tool to help stop climate change.

The Roadless Rule, established in 2001, is intended to help keep wild spaces in our national forest system free from roads and logging. In 2020, the Trump administration stripped Roadless Rule safeguards from 9.2 million acres in the Tongass, the largest forest in the national forest system.

The USDA has seen almost exclusively favorable comments from Alaskans and locals to the region for restoring the Roadless Rules protections to the Tongass.

In response, Environment America Research & Policy Center Public Lands Campaign Director Ellen Montgomery issued the following statement:

“After eagerly awaiting this announcement, we’re overjoyed that full roadless protections have been restored to the Tongass National Forest. Our largest national forest provides critical habitat for countless birds, salmon and its ancient trees absorb staggering amounts of carbon. The roadless area, 9.2 million acres, has been protected from logging since 2001. Thanks to the Biden administration, this critical forestland will have continued protection for decades longer. Now that this Trump era rollback has been restored, it’s time for the Biden administration to move to increase protection from logging for all old and mature forests across the entire country.”

Alaska Environment Research and Policy Center State Director Dyani Chapman issued the following statement: 

“The restoration of the Roadless Rule is a win for Alaskans. Commercial fishermen, local Indigenous communities, tourism operators and environmentalists have all worked to restore protections to the forest. When intact, the Tongass is a complex web of life. Clear cuts put a fist through that web, and roads slice it into pieces. The roadless area allows the thousands of people that live in and around the Tongass to access intact forest to hike, kayak, hunt, fish and forage. ”