Justin Braaten
3 min readNov 22, 2019


Tongass National Forest, Alaska. Credit: Amy Gulick/amygulick.com

The state of Alaska has petitioned to end the 2001 Roadless Rule which would allow road building and additional timber harvest opportunities in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest (including old-growth).

This post provides resources to inform your opinion of the proposed change and encourages you to submit a comment to the Forest Service by 12/17/2019.

Voice your opinion

Submit a comment to the Forest Service.

What the public is saying

Learn what the public is saying about the options being considered.

Media coverage

Washington Post article on the matter.

History of the 2001 Roadless Rule

Timeline of the 2001 Roadless Rule from Earthjustice.

2001 Roadless Rule Federal Registry

Official 2001 Roadless Rule Registry.

Explore the options being considered

Interactive ESRI story map.

Alaska Roadless Rule story map.

Explore logging extent

Explore the spatial and temporal pattern of logging activity from 1985–2018 with this Google Earth Engine interactive web map.

Interactive web map showing the extent of forest cutting in the Tongass from 1985 to 2018.

My opinion

The following is my personal opinion regarding the proposed lifting of the Roadless Rule in Alaska. Much of it is drawn from arguments in the 2001 Roadless Rule Registry. If you share my opinion, please feel free to use it as your public comment submission.

TAKE NO ACTION; leave all of Alaska under the 2001 Roadless Rule.

The 2001 Roadless Rule addressed a need to protect the social and ecological values and characteristics of roadless areas from road construction and reconstruction and certain timber harvesting activities. Adoption of the rule ensured that inventoried roadless areas will be managed in a manner that sustains their values now and for future generations.

Roadless areas function as biological strongholds for populations of threatened and endangered species. They provide large, relatively undisturbed landscapes that are important to biological diversity and the long-term survival of many at risk species. Roadless areas provide opportunities for dispersed outdoor recreation, opportunities that diminish as open space and natural settings are developed elsewhere. They also serve as bulwarks against the spread of non-native invasive plant species and provide reference areas for study and research. Lifting the rule will degrade these important landscape functions.

The following values or features often characterize roadless areas and stand in contrast to developed and logged areas:

* High quality or undisturbed soil, water, and air.

* Sources of public drinking water.

* Diversity of plant and animal communities.

* Habitat for threatened, endangered, proposed, candidate, and sensitive species and for those species dependent on large, undisturbed areas of land.

* Primitive, semi-primitive, non-motorized, and semi-primitive motorized classes of dispersed recreation.

* Reference landscapes.

* Natural appearing landscapes with high scenic quality.

* Traditional cultural properties and sacred sites.

* Other locally identified unique characteristics.

Alaska is special because it is wild. Do not erode protection of its unique and magnificent character for cheap, short-term, perceived economic gains whose destructive environmental impact will last for hundreds of years.