For Immediate Release
Mark Rorick, Sierra Club, 907-789-5472
Mark Gnadt, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, 907-586-6942
Alaska Native, Tourism, and Conservation Groups Seek Protection for Roadless Areas in Tongass National Forest
JUNEAU, Alaska - A diverse coalition
of Alaska Native, tourism industry, and environmental organizations
took action today to protect some of the last pristine old-growth
areas in the Tongass National Forest. These areas are important to
for hunting, fishing, customary and traditional subsistence uses,
tourism, and recreation. They are also important to the world for their
storage of carbon, which combats global warming.
Department of Agriculture - seeks to end the 2003, Bush-era decision to
“temporarily” exempt the Tongass from the national Roadless Rule. The
lawsuit asserts that this exemption was illegally adopted.
with the Organized Village of Kake. “For Tribal members, these lands
are essential sources of food, medicine, clothing, and traditional
items for artistic and spiritual use,” he continued.
“Our deer hunting and other customary uses of the forest have suffered
too much already from past logging,” he added. Two large timber sales
are slated for roadless areas near Kake, on North Kuiu Island and
Central Kupreanof Island.
survival of small businesses around Southeast,” explained Hanna
Waterstrat, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness Recreation
& Tourism Association. “Very few folks will pay to go see clearcuts
and decaying logging roads.”
find pristine watersheds to take our clients,” Hunter McIntosh of The
Boat Company reported. “Now,” he said, “dropping anchor in a bay free
of logging damage often means doubling or tripling
up with other tour boats. For the future of our company and our
industry, it’s crucial to protect the Tongass wildlands we have left.”
our unparalleled Southeast Alaska quality of life and of the fish and
wildlife that make this forest a global treasure,” explained Mark Gnadt
of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.
“This so-called temporary exemption has become an excuse to delay
coming up with a truly sustainable plan for America’s rainforest.”
a defensible plan for the Tongass, communities, businesses and wildlife
of the Tongass can’t wait any longer for the protections they deserve,”
said Tom Waldo of Earthjustice, who is co-counsel
in the lawsuit along with Natural Resources Defense Council.
get rid of this cloud over the future of America’s rainforest. The Bush
administration had no business opening up Tongass roadless areas to
destructive industrial logging. We need to be
sure that loophole is closed for good.
Conservation Society, “The Tongass is an icon, the last fully
functioning national forest ecosystem left, and the only one where
wildlife and fish exist in something like the abundance they enjoyed
in days gone by. It's outrageous that some of the wildest places left
in America's most intact national forest have not received roadless
for providing habitat for wildlife species found only in America's
rainforest,” said Natalie Dawson of the Center for Biological
Diversity. “Without protection, the U.S. Forest Service and
private industry will continue to chip away at the some of the last
remaining, intact stands of old-growth temperate rainforest in the
week, Tongass roadless areas also have international significance as
they are, “critical in conserving and storing carbon.” The Tongass
stores nearly 8 percent of carbon contained in U.S.
forests according to Vilsack.
Resources Defense Council, include the Organized Village of Kake,
Alaska Wilderness Recreation & Tourism Association, The Boat
Company, Sierra Club, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Tongass
Conservation Society, Greenpeace, Wrangell Resource Council, Center for
Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and Cascadia Wildlands in