To: USDA Secretary Vilsack

Protect America’s Rainforest From Old-Growth Logging

As someone who cares about protecting America's rainforest for future generations, I urge you to halt the planning of several large-scale old growth timber sales in the Tongass National Forest. More than four years after the Administration proposed a rapid Tongass Transition Framework, it is now time to make sure that ongoing operations do not irretrievably damage our country's rainforest while this vision is fulfilled.

Although I was glad to see the Forest Service's May 27, 2014 notice of intent to amend the Tongass National Forest Plan to transition out of industrial-scale old-growth logging, I encourage you to end these destructive timber sales much more rapidly than the notice's proposed 10 to 15 year timeline. I hope and urge that the forest plan amendment will quickly and successfully pave the way for the U.S. Forest Service to refocus its resources and management of the Tongass toward projects that protect and restore vital watersheds and important fish and wildlife habitat while promoting a diverse and sustainable economy in Southeast Alaska based on restoration, fishing, tourism, and recreation.

Why is this important?

We have an opportunity to save the Tongass rainforest—but we need your help now to tell agency officials to end destructive industrial-scale old-growth logging on the Tongass much more quickly than the Forest Service’s proposed 10-15 year timeline.

The Tongass is one of the few old-growth temperate rainforests in the world and America’s largest national forest. Its towering stands of 700 year old trees provide vital habitat for bears, salmon, Sitka black-tailed deer, goshawks, and—importantly—the rare and dwindling Alexander Archipelago wolf. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently found that, because of excessive old-growth logging, this unique subspecies of wolf may warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act.

At times, the Obama Administration has offered encouraging words about ending the large-scale destruction of this rainforest from old-growth logging. And in May 2014, the Administration announced it would be starting a process to amend the Tongass Forest Plan to phase out these devastating logging practices.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Forest Service proposes taking far too long to complete that goal—another 10-15 years of industrial old-growth logging. Worse, the agency is set to increase old-growth timber sales on the Tongass in the meantime, with several big new sales in the worksgrowth timber sales on the Tongass in the meantime with several big new sales in the works—some of the largest the Tongass has seen in over two decades. The wolves and other species of the Tongass just can’t afford more habitat destruction.

Take action now to protect the Tongass National Forest from destructive industrial-scale old-growth logging.