Setting Sail in 2019

The Last Stands project was born in 2017 as a rugged, woman-led expedition through threatened lands in the Tongass National Forest. We will continue our ground-truthing efforts in 2019 in response to proposed changes to the Roadless Rule.

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BACKGROUND ON THE TONGASS RAINFOREST

The 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is the largest temperate rainforest in the world. The Tongass covers more than 1,000 islands and is cradled between the open expanse of the Pacific Ocean and the highest coastal mountain range in the world. This rainforest is a national treasure, but it's threatened by an export logging industry which continues to send barge-loads of old-growth trees to Asia. In an era of climate change there's even deeper motive for protecting these lands: the Tongass currently sequesters 8% of the US’s carbon emissions.

 THE ISSUE

In 2001, 9-million acres of the Tongass were protected by the Roadless Rule; a federal policy that prohibits road building and logging in unroaded National Forest. The unfragmented forest protected by the rule is integral for salmon, wildlife, and the cultural resilience of rural communities.

In 2018, the USFS was directed by the Trump Administration to draft an ‘Alaska specific’ Roadless Rule in an effort to open up protected lands to clearcut logging. The proposed changes to the Roadless Rule have met intense opposition in the region; but the issue hasn't gained national attention. The Last Stands ground-truthing expedition aims to place the Tongass alongside the opening of Bears Ears and the Arctic Refuge, as one of the most significant potential losses of wild lands during the Trump presidency.

 
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Getting on the Ground

  • Sail circumnavigation of Prince of Wales Island to access inventoried roadless areas.

  • Ground-truth roadless areas by foot and packraft.

  • Tell the story of roadless rainforest through published writings, scientific illustrations, social media, and a film production.

  • Encourage public engagement with the national comment period for the draft 'Alaska specific' Roadless Rule.

 

Photo, Lee House