Alaska Roadless Rulemaking Announcement

The USDA Forest Service has announced it will develop a state-specific roadless rule focused on the Tongass National Forest. The rule would amend the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule which establishes prohibitions with some exceptions on road construction, road reconstruction, and timber harvest on 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless areas on National Forest System lands. The intent of the 2001 Roadless Rule is to provide lasting protection for inventoried roadless areas within the National Forest System in the context of multiple-use management.

A state-specific roadless rule would determine which currently designated roadless areas in the Tongass National Forest would require a different management designation to further Alaska’s economic development or other needs, while still conserving roadless areas for generations to come. Inventoried roadless areas covered by the 2001 Roadless Rule comprise 9.2 million acres (55 percent) of the Tongass National Forest (16.8 million acres).

The USDA Forest Service plans to finalize an Alaska roadless rule by June 2020. The rulemaking process will involve National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review and disclosures, gathering public feedback, conducting public outreach, consultation with Alaska Native tribes and corporations, and cooperation with the State of Alaska. Throughout our work on the Alaska Roadless Rule, the USDA Forest Service will uphold our mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.


In June 2018, the Secretary of Agriculture directed the Chief of the Forest Service to initiate a state-specific rulemaking for roadless area management direction for the Tongass National Forest on behalf of the Department. In developing a rulemaking to establish an Alaska roadless rule, USDA is responding to the State of Alaska’s petition (January 2018) requesting an exemption of the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule. In August 2018 the State of Alaska and the USDA Forest Service signed a memorandum of understanding to document cooperation between the parties on the development of the state-specific rule.