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Reps. Gallego, DeGette Slam Trump’s Decision to Open Up Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to Harmful Clearcutting and Roadbuilding

October 28, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC— Today the U.S. Forest Service announced its official decision to move forward with stripping Roadless Rule protections from Tongass National Forest in Alaska, one of the world’s largest remaining intact temperate rain forests and a place that has been treasured by Americans for generations. The Roadless Rule has protected Tongass National Forest since 2001.

“The decision to strip Roadless Rule protections from this pristine national treasure is as reckless as it is unsurprising, given that this administration has prioritized maximizing profits for special interests over responsible land management policies time and again,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, Chairman of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples. “As fires burn in the West, severe storms devastate the East, and heatwaves worsen in my own backyard in Arizona, we cannot afford to greenlight clearcutting in a forest that is one of our nation’s strongest weapons in the fight against climate change. Stripping Roadless rule protections also threatens the lives and livelihoods of Alaska Native communities and those in Southeast Alaska who make their living on fishing, tourism, and recreation economies. This horrendous decision must be reversed before irreparable damage is done.”

“The Roadless Rule is one of the most popular environmental policies in our country - but the Trump Administration’s commitment to ripping protections from our public lands despite public opinion remains unparalleled," said Rep. Diana DeGette. “We will never be able to undo the devastation this decision will cause to the Tongass. Congress needs to act immediately to codify this rule into law.”

Gallego and DeGette, along with House Natural Resources Chairman Grijalva, led a bicameral letter earlier this month urging Secretary Purdue to reverse course on the decision to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule.

They also introduced the Roadless Area Conservation Act along with Senator Maria Cantwell, which would prohibit commercial logging or the construction of roads in inventoried federal roadless areas where those activities are already prohibited by the Roadless Rule. The bill would make exemptions like the one USFS announced today in Alaska impossible.