“Alaska’s Tongass National Forest—America’s largest—is no longer protected under the 2001 Roadless Rule, and its remote islands and old-growth trees are now open to new logging and mining, according to a record of decision to be published Thursday in the Federal Register.
In its final decision to exempt the Tongass from roadless area protections, the U.S. Forest Service—part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—said it’s acting against overwhelming public opposition to ending protections and instead heeding the will of Alaska public officials.
“A large majority of written comments and oral subsistence testimony supported retaining the 2001 Roadless Rule on the Tongass National Forest,” the Forest Service wrote. “However, many of the State’s elected officials, including the Governor, the federal delegation, and some municipal governments support changing the 2001 Roadless Rule.”
The decision is expected to be swiftly challenged in court, and no activity is expected prior to the end of President Donald Trump’s first term. A new Democratic administration likely would undo the decision, which is subject to the Congressional Review Act. “