Montana's Gallatin National Forest, which contains hundreds of thousands of acres of "roadless" wild forest.
Credit: Conor Gaffney, flickr.
Congress has passed a bill to fund the federal government without proposals that could have introduced logging and road-building to millions of acres of America's wildest forests.
With your help, we defeated a proposal to allow road construction and logging in our wildest national forest lands
Key senators rejected "riders" offered by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski that would have exempted Alaska’s two national forests, the Tongass National Forest and Chugach National Forest, from the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
Right off the bat, these riders could have introduced logging and road-building to nearly 15 million acres of pristine forest in America's wildest frontier. Even more troubling, they could have set a precedent leading to development in wild forest areas across the U.S., likely including some public lands near you. That would have jeopardized everything from wildlife habitat to clean drinking water to the robust outdoor recreation economy.
Alaska's Tongass National Forest, whose wildest areas could have been opened for road-building and logging under recent proposals. Credit: Amy Gulick/amygulick.com.
Despite the inclusion of some other bad environmental measures in the larger funding package, blocking these proposals was a big win. Thanks in part to our followers calling on their senators in the last few weeks, we averted what would have been the first ever legislative maneuver allowing road construction and logging in "roadless" national forest lands.
Because of you and some dedicated elected officials, tens of millions of acres of our wildest forests are a little more secure today. Give yourselves a hand.
New (and not-so-new) threats to Our Wild Forests loom
As is almost always the case, this threat isn't quite dead—only deferred. Anti-conservation forces have a lot of momentum in Washington, and that means oil, gas, coal and timber companies will keep trying to gain inroads (quite literally, in this case) into our wild public lands.
Sen. Murkowski is expected to try to push new measures targeting wild forests the next chance she gets. Additionally, the state of Alaska has officially asked the Trump administration to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule, which would lead to the same slippery slope we described above.
That means that while you did a great job, there won't be too much time to rest on your laurels. We'll be calling on you again in the coming months to stand up for Our Wild Forests in Alaska, your home state, and everywhere in between.