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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, January 21, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT

Katherine Quaid, WECAN International, katherine@wecaninternational.org

Indigenous Women Gather to Highlight the Importance of the Roadless Rule in the Tongass Rainforest Following a Critical Public Comment Period

JUNEAU, ALASKA— On Monday January 24th, Indigenous Women leaders from Southeast Alaska will gather outside the U.S. Forest Service building in Juneau, Alaska to highlight the vital role of forest protections following a public comment period to reinstate the 2001 National Roadless Rule for the Tongass National Forest. Existing within the traditional territories of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Peoples, the Tongass has been called “America’s Climate Forest,” for its ability to sequester vast amounts of carbon.


In 2021, the Biden Administration announced plans to restore full Roadless Rule protections that were revoked during the previous Administration.  At the end of last year, the U.S. Forest Service announced a 60-day comment period for public input on the decision to re-establish the 2001 National Roadless Rule in the Tongass. Hundreds of thousands of public comments have been submitted in support of the Roadless Rule since when the Tongass was under attack by the Trump Administration.


When: Monday, January 24, 11:00 - 11:45am AKST

Where: U.S Forest Service, Federal Building, 709 W 9th St, Juneau, Alaska


Indigenous women leaders from the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) Tongass Hub will bring attention to the critical value of the 2001 Roadless Rule. A livestream of the event will be available at: https://www.facebook.com/WECAN.Intl


Please find more information about advocacy to protect the Roadless Rule in the Tongass by viewing a recent virtual rally co-hosted by many groups locally and nationwide. Watch the rally here.


Prior to the event, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) Indigenous Women Tongass Representatives and WECAN Executive Director issued the following statements:


"The Tongass Forest is my home. Home to the ancient Tlingit and Haida Indigenous Peoples. The air we breathe, the water we depend on, the land we live upon, all pristine. It is a life to cherish. It is a way of living worth fighting for. The Biden Administration’s restoration of the Roadless Rule is vital for protecting our forest homelands as Indigenous peoples of the Tongass. We will continue engaging with the Administration to ensure Indigenous women's voices are heard and our expertise consulted moving forward. For our communities and the climate it is time to invest in collaborative management practices that uplift Indigenous rights, food sovereignty, environmental protection and land conservation in Alaska's Tongass Forest. " Kashudoha Wanda Loescher Culp (Tlingit) WECAN Tongass Coordinator


“The process to repeal the Roadless Rule has been mired in corporate interests that do not represent the public but only seek to exploit the land and open the forest to further logging and mining interests. Please stand with us and heed Indigenous women’s call to restore roadless rule protections and end old-growth logging in the Tongass. Protecting the Tongass means supporting the growth of local business, ensuring community access to traditional foods and medicines, allowing the forest to heal from massive logging in the past while mitigating further climate chaos. It is important that this land stays wild and free." Rebekah Sawers (Yupik) WECAN Tongass Representative


“As matriarchs we are on watch for future generations. I have a personal investment in the Roadless Rule being reinstated and the protection of our old-growth forests because I have children and I want to be able to tell them that we will have the support we need to protect our land. We are sovereign. We have never been separate from our ecosystem. Everything that our culture is belongs to this land, we are in coexistence with this land, we are part of this land. This land is very important to us, without key components of this land our future does not exist and that means cultural genocide for our people." Yolanda Fulmer (Tlingit), WECAN Tongass Indigenous Representative


“ I am Tlingit of the Tongass Forest. As People of the Forest, People of the Sea, we must speak out on behalf of our children’s grandchildren to protect this land we call home and the climate. Impacts from industrial logging operations of the last century by all actors, disproportionately and negatively impacted the land and waters we Tlingit have sustained successfully throughout time. Stand with us as we call for further protections for the Tongass and the restoration of the Roadless Rule.” Adrien Nichol Lee (Tlingit), WECAN Tongass Representative


“Old-growth forests are vital to climate mitigation and necessary for meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. We must all take action to support protection for old-growth forests like the Tongass, and particularly listen to the leadership of Indigenous peoples when their homelands and territories are under attack. The people have spoken: we want the Roadless Rule to remain. Our natural forests are essential lungs of the Earth and we look forward to ensuring that Indigenous rights and leadership, food sovereignty, forest conservation, and collaboration are centered more than ever as the Biden Administration moves forward to support communities and economies in the Tongass.” Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International

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The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International

www.wecaninternational.org - @WECAN_INTL

 

The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International is a 501(c)3 and solutions-based organization established to engage women worldwide in policy advocacy, on-the-ground projects, trainings, and movement building for global climate justice.