Businesses Applaud: USDA Announcement to Restore and Expand Protection of the Tongass National Forest

Media Release

Washington, D.C.— The American Sustainable Business Council and its collaboration partners Businesses for Conservation & Climate Action announced today its support of the USDA’s announced plan to restore and expand protections for Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Their plan will help to reverse the Trump-era action that exempted 9.3 million acres of the Tongass from the 2001 Roadless Rule. It will also help with the Biden administration’s goal of protecting 30% of U.S. waters and land by 2030.

USDA will be spending up to $25 million on economic development in the region to improve forest health and is committed to consulting with Tribal governments, AK Native Corporations, and local stakeholders over the next month to deploy the $25 million as well as identify longer-term investment opportunities in the region. The USDA seeks to end large-scale, old growth logging in the Tongass, which will help in the journey to deal with climate change. It will also help to create a more sustainable environment and protect the Tongass from further damage. 

“We fully support the Biden Administration’s decision to protect Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, America’s largest national forest said Dune Lankard, founder of Native Conservancy – the very first Native-led, Native-owned land conservancy in the United States. The $25 million investment in Southeast Alaska’s local economy is a good starting point in helping preserve the region’s natural environment and improving the quality of life of our Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian brothers and sisters.”

“Fisheries are a key piece of that bank and a renewable economy. The Tongass and Southeast Alaska’s marine ecosystem and fisheries are ripe for comprehensive action that meets the Biden Administration’s principles of Indigenous leadership, climate action, social justice, and robust community-based support. We see yesterday’s announcement as a big win for our fisheries and maintaining a sustainable economy and look forward to working with the Forest Service on next steps and a unified vision for forest management,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association.

“The Tongass is not only one of the few truly wild places left on the planet, it is also vital to our path forward as we deal with climate change,” said SalmonState communications director, Mary Catharine Martin. “We’re thrilled that this announcement recognizes how valuable the Tongass is, both to the people that live here and to the rest of the world.” 

“We applaud the expanded protections of the critical natural and cultural landscapes within the Tongass National Forest,” said Rebecca R. Rubin, Senior Executive Consultant, Marstel-Day

“Our collective survival and economic prosperity in a climate-impacted future is wholly dependent on enhanced conservation of resources and the new approaches to sustainability. USDA’s recent announcement to restore and expand protections on the Tongass National Forest is an important step in that direction. This has been and is a priority issue for ASBC and our Businesses for Conservation & Climate Action alliance,” said David Levine, Co-founder and President, American Sustainable Business Council.  

Businesses for Conservation & Climate Action (BCCA) is a group of Indigenous and community-based, resource-dependent small-scale business leaders from across the country. BCCA is formed around the collective vision that solutions between humans and nature are rooted in rediscovering our place within the global ecosystem. Its mission is to establish national policies that recognize sustainable small businesses as compatible with healthy lands and oceans, and to enhance rather than exclude these sustainable businesses from conversations about resource access at every step of the decision-making process. Our work is guided by a firm commitment to social equity, local and traditional wisdom, and triple bottom line solutions that restore social, ecological and economic health.