News Release

Statement: USDA announces proposal to restore vital protections for the Tongass National Forest

Safeguards to species, habitats and our climate in America’s largest national forest is a huge win
For Immediate Release

DENVER -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a proposal late Thursday to reinstate protections for the Tongass National Forest, kicking off a public process before the protections are finalized. This action was in response to a Trump-era rollback of protections for 9.2 million acres of the some 17-million-acre area. The rollbacks opened up the Tongass to logging and roadbuilding, which would disturb the fragile and interconnected environment.

The Tongass is the largest national forest in the United States and provides integral habitats for some of the country’s most signature species, including brown bears and bald eagles. In large part, the area is so popular for these animals because all five species of pacific salmon spawn in the Tongass’ waters. The forest is also one of our best natural solutions to global warming, absorbing 44% of all carbon stored by all forests in the national forest system.

According to the USDA announcement, a 60-day comment period will begin on Nov. 23. The public will be able to submit feedback online, by email and mail on the proposal to protect the area. A public comment period held in 2019 resulted in more than 140,000 people commenting on the proposed rollback. A majority were in favor of maintaining protections for the 9.2 million acres of roadless areas in the Tongass.

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

“We’ve had our fingers crossed, hoping this would be announced soon, and we’re thrilled with today’s announcement. The Tongass National Forest’s indispensable habitats serve as home to a multitude of species and also play a vital role in helping fight global warming. We need to continue to protect old forests and big trees, such as those in the Tongass, to ensure our future includes essential species and a livable climate.

“We hope that Americans head to their computers and submit lots of public comments in favor of both this forest and the idea that we need more nature.” 

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Environment America Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.