Cantwell Applauds Restoration of Tongass Forest Protections

Biden Admin signals they will reverse Trump directive that stripped protections for over 9 million acres of pristine Alaskan forestlands, including old-growth stands

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released a statement following President Biden’s announcement that they plan to "revise or replace" a Trump Administration proposal to lift roadless rule protections within Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

"I commend the Biden Administration for ensuring the future of our shared public lands is based on science, a legally sound process, and stakeholder input. The fate of one of the world's last great remaining temperate forests shouldn't be a political decision made on a whim." said Senator Cantwell, the Senate's longtime champion of the Roadless Rule. "The salmon runs, carbon storage, and tourism appeal that the Tongass currently provides will always be more valuable to Pacific Northwest communities than any subsidized logging projects."

Cantwell led Congressional criticism of the Trump Administration flawed Tongass rulemaking. Last October, she led a bicameral group of lawmakers in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue that blasted the administration’s decision to strip protections from protected areas of the world's largest temperate rainforest. In July 2019, Senator Cantwell led another bicameral letter to Purdue expressing concerns over the rulemaking process, the lack of adequate consultation with local stakeholders, and urging the Department to schedule additional scoping meetings in other areas of the country, like Seattle. And in August 2019, she blasted the administration over its decision to move forward with eliminating protections for the Tongass.

Senator Cantwell has also been the lead Senate champion of the 2001 Roadless Rule, which for two decades has shielded almost 60 million acres of some of the most pristine and treasured areas within the National Forest System from roadbuilding and logging. She has repeatedly introduced legislation to codify the Roadless Rule into law, including as early as 2001. Last January, on its twentieth anniversary, Cantwell announced the Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2021 that would permanently protect 58.5 million of acres of national forest from logging and development—more than 31 percent of America’s National Forest System—including the South Quinault Ridge in Northwest Washington, the Dark Divide in Southwest Washington, The Kettle Range in Northeast Washington, and much of the Methow Valley Headwaters in Central Washington.