The fight is on to protect Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The State of Alaska is working to exempt the Tongass NF from the 2001 Roadless Rule by implementing an Alaska-specific Roadless Rule. The United States Department of Agriculture released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on 10/17, recommending the Tongass be exempted from the National Roadless Rule and opened to old growth logging. Exactly what President Trump requested.
The release of the DEIS kicked off a 60-day public comment period, offering folks from Alaska and across the country the opportunity to weigh in with their thoughts on the future of the Tongass through December 17, 2019. This is where you come in. This important public comment is required by law, will be considered by the USDA in its production of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, and most importantly, will be filed publicly and used to defend the Tongass should litigation happen.
The Conservation Alliance has identified upholding the National Roadless Rule as a top priority through 2020, and since 2018 has invested in five Public Land Defense Fund grants to support organizations working to defend the rule in Alaska and Utah. Groups receiving funding from our PLDF for work on the National Roadless Rule are as follows: Trout Unlimited, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Outdoor Alliance, The Wilderness Society, and Taxpayers for Common Sense. Additionally, with 52 member companies, we penned a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue earlier this year, and just worked with Outdoor Alliance to keep up the drumbeat in Elevation Outdoors.
The fight is not just with the Administration though. Simultaneously, Congress has introduced legislation in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, which if passed, would codify (make permanent) the Roadless Rule across all states outside of Idaho and Colorado. (The current rule is an “Administrative Rule”giving Congress the ability to pass law to overturn or codify it). We were in Washington DC three weeks ago asking members of Congress to co-sponsor this legislation – S.1311 and H.R. 2491 – and work to move it across the finish line this Congress.
Conservation Alliance Members on the steps of the Capitol, November 2019.
There are three ways you can take action with us today to protect the Tongass and uphold the National Roadless Rule:
- Is your company a Conservation Alliance member? Sign onto our business comment letter.
- Submit your own individual letter to the USDA
- Encourage your social media networks to submit their own comments to the USDA
First, Sign onto our Conservation Alliance comment letter
Please seek appropriate company approval before adding your company’s name to our comment letter. We will be accepting signatures through Friday, December 13.
To sign, please email Kirsten (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the following information:
- Signee Name, Signee Title
- Company Name
- Company City, State Zip
Second, Submit Your Own Letter
Here are three ways to submit individual comments:
- Directly through this friendly, Conservation Alliance grantee built portal
- Email the USDA directly at: email@example.com / subject line: Alaska Roadless Rulemaking #54511
- Submit directly through the USDA online portal
Not sure where to start with your comment? Below are some suggested starting points. Please be sure to customize your remarks to make them as personal and unique as possible.
Subject: Alaska Roadless DEIS Comment
Dear Secretary Perdue:
[Begin your comment letter by explaining why you value/how you enjoy our national forests.]
I am writing to support the No-Action Alternative for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Alaska Roadless Rule, Alternative #1. I support keeping the current Roadless Rule protections in place and intact for the Tongass National Forest. The Tongass contains some of the largest intact old-growth temperate rainforest in the world, and its value in providing clean water for fish and wildlife habitat is essential to the economic and ecological health of Southeast Alaska. As an outdoor recreationist and a proud public land owner, I urge you to keep the federal Roadless Rule intact and current protections in place for national forests in Alaska.
In addition, I strongly object to your plans to reduce and remove protections from our national forest’s roadless areas. The Roadless Rule is one of the smartest and most popular land management policies the Federal Government has ever adopted. The value of the Roadless Rule in preventing environmentally damaging and economically wasteful road-building and logging is particularly relevant in the Tongass, where logging costs vastly exceed timber revenues and require unconscionable taxpayer subsidies.
I strongly endorse the No-Action Alternative and support upholding the national roadless rule in the Tongass.
Lastly, Take to Social Media
Once you’ve submitted your comment, share with your networks! Here is a toolkit with downloadable videos, suggested messaging, and appropriate hashtags to get you started.