Tell the Forest Service to Stop More Road Subsidies in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

Action AlertTell the Forest Service to Stop More Road Subsidies in Alaska’s Tongass National ForestComment now on the draft proposal to allow more road building and money-losing timber sales in our nation’s largest forest

Energy & Natural Resources,  | Analysis
Dec 10, 2019  | 4 min read | Print Article

A new proposal by the Forest Service would permit costly taxpayer-subsidized roads in the most sensitive and hard to access places in the Tongass National Forest. America’s largest national forest, the Tongass stretches across 16.7 million acres in Southeastern Alaska, covering an area roughly the size of West Virginia. In mid-October, the agency released a draft rule recommending the state of Alaska be granted a full exemption from the national roadless rule.

The roadless rule has been in place since 2001 and limits roadbuilding in protected areas throughout the National Forest System, cutting the road maintenance backlog in half since its enactment. In the case of the Tongass National Forest, the rule has not only helped address road maintenance it has also helped reduce the number of money losing timber sales in the Tongass.

You can help! The US Forest Service is seeking public comment on their proposal to repeal the roadless rule. Click here to tell the US Forest Service to protect taxpayer interests and maintain the roadless rule in Alaska.

Our own analysis shows that taxpayers have already lost $600 million from timber sales in the Tongass National Forest over the last 20 years. This means taxpayers have spent roughly $30 million per year “selling” timber harvested in the Tongass. Exempting the forest from the roadless rule would only increase taxpayer losses in the future.

In addition to the financial liability of increased timber sales in the Tongass, the a roadless rule exemption would impact local communities that depend on the forest. The area maintains a robust commercial fishing, recreation, and tourism industry –all of that is in jeopardy if this proposal is finalized.

Until December 17th, the Forest service is seeking comments from the public on their harmful proposal to repeal the roadless rule in the Tongass. Here is some info to help you support taxpayers in your comments.

  • The Tongass National Forest is the largest forest in the National Forest System at 16.7 million acres. It is also part of the largest temperate rainforest in the world.
  • There are currently 31 timber sales under contract in the Tongass National forest totaling 62 million board feet of timber yet to be harvested. Using 20-year averages, taxpayers stand to lose $37 million on the remaining timber from these projects.
  • By exempting the Tongass National Forest from the roadless rule the US Forest Service would be paving the way to additional money-losing timber sales. Timber sales that have already cost federal taxpayers $600 million over the last 20 years
  • Opening the Tongass National Forest to additional road building would only add to the US Forest Service’s $3.2 billion maintenance backlog for roads across the National Forest System
  • In addition to creating more timber sales in the Tongass National Forest an exemption from the roadless rule would harm local industries such as hunting, recreation, and commercial fishing, all essential to individuals living in the region.

Submit public comments by December 17th: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=FS-2019-0023-0001