Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 20, 2017

Contact: Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

Senate Republicans Attack Alaska's Public Lands in Funding Bill

Legislation Would Greenlight Old-growth Logging in Tongass National Forest

WASHINGTON— Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed today to accelerate old-growth logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and allow development in pristine, roadless areas throughout Alaska’s national forests. The proposals are part of their draft legislation to fund the Department of the Interior in 2018.

“Senator Murkowski seems dead-set on rewarding her special interest benefactors even if it means trashing our nation’s iconic public lands in Alaska,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Clearcutting our old-growth and degrading roadless areas is shameful and deeply out of touch with the American people’s values.”

The legislation would amend the 2016 land management plan for the Tongass National Forest to allow old-growth logging indefinitely. The current land management plan, which involved years of stakeholder development and public participation, provides for a transition for timber harvesting to switch from old-growth to only younger-growth trees, thereby protecting most of the remaining old-growth forests in Alaska.

The legislation would also overturn the “roadless rule,” which was adopted in 2000 to protect “large, relatively undisturbed landscapes” in national forests from logging roads and clearcuts. The roadless rule still allows for economic development — including hydropower projects, transmission lines, tourism and even mining — so long as no permanent roads are constructed.

“For years the Republicans have perverted the appropriations process to advance the interests of corporate polluters over our nation’s proud tradition of protecting public lands,” said Spivak. “This is a new low, even for them.”

In the first 10 months of the 115th Congress, Republicans have introduced more than 80 bills that attack public lands, weaken environmental safeguards on those lands or turn over control to states and local governments. These attacks go against the wishes of most Americans, since the vast majority of voters across political parties support protecting and maintaining forests, national parks, monuments and other public lands and waters.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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