It is with great joy that we write to share that this morning, the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture announced that the Forest Service and USDA will initiate a rulemaking that proposes to restore 2001 Roadless Rule protections on the Tongass!
And they didn’t stop there! The USDA announced a comprehensive new Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy, which involves four major policy changes, including the roadless announcement. In addition:
- They will end large-scale old-growth timber logging on the Tongass, including currently planned contracts, and allow old-growth logging only for cultural uses, and for micro- and small- sales that serve community needs!
- They will work with their sister agencies to invest an additional $25 million in supporting local, sustainable economic development initiatives like the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership, Keex’ Kwaan Community Forest Partnership, the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, and the Indigenous Guardians Network!
- They will prioritize a renewed commitment to their engagement with Tribes, and to their trust responsibilities, including with regards to meaningful consultation, and more co-management!
This announcement marks the beginning of the end of the fight of many decades — a fight for place, community, and a vision of the Tongass that is bigger, richer, and more vivid than just clearcutting our old-growth forests to ship them off to the highest bidder. The announcement today goes far beyond Roadless, and even beyond old-growth logging, to change the way the Forest Service will guide the future of the Tongass National Forest, and our region. It’s the opportunity to chart a new, long-sought course for the economic future of our region, and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
The effort to end large-scale old-growth logging, and to keep the national Roadless Rule in place on the Tongass was your fight, and this announcement is your win. We hope you’re celebrating!
We celebrate and thank the many Tribal leaders and partners whose vision and dedicated hard work over many years pushed the administration to finally take decisive action to protect our shared home. Thank you, Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa, Nt’oyaxsn for your great leadership, mentorship, and heart.
(Photo credit: Colin Arisman)
And we celebrate and thank each of you, for every comment card you wrote, every rally you attended, every time you spoke up at a public meeting, every vote you cast, and every gift you made to SEACC to make this all possible. You believed that if we all — those who love this place the most, the people who live here, together — stood tall with the Tongass, the Tongass would stand tall forever. And you were right.
Meredith and The SEACC Team