REI speaks out on proposed exemption for roadless rule in the Tongass National Forest

Dec 17, 2019

With the opportunity for public comment on changes to the Roadless Area Conservation Rule proposed by the Trump administration coming to an end, REI Co-op submitted a strongly worded letter endorsing Alternative #1 (no action) on the proposed changes.

“On behalf our 18 million members, REI Co-op strongly opposes recent proposals to exempt Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. For nearly two decades, the federal Roadless Rule has prohibited additional road-building and logging in the Tongass National Forest, which is part of the largest remaining temperate rainforest on Earth,” the co-op stated in a letter submitted by Government and Community Affairs Manager Taldi Harrison.

National Forest roadless areas – including the 9.3 million acres in the Tongass - are where millions of people enjoy hiking, biking, camping, hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities each year. In addition to the intrinsic and experiential values of roadless areas, these lands are integral to the outdoor recreation economy around the country, including in Alaska where outdoor recreation directly employs 72,000 people, drives $7.3 billion in consumer spending, supports $2.3 billion in wages and contributes $337 million in state and local tax revenue, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. In addition, outdoor recreation in Alaska supports four times as many jobs in the state as oil and gas production, mining and logging combined, according to OIA data.

“REI strongly endorses Alternative #1 (no action) to support upholding the national roadless rule in Alaska. The Tongass National Forest is an outdoor recreation and ecological paradise – not just for Alaskans but for all Americans,” the letter urged.

REI Co-op is an organization dedicated to the long-term health of the outdoors. In addition to outfitting and inspiring our 18 million members to enjoy the outdoors, the co-op is engaged in numerous efforts to protect wild places and assure that every American has easy access to nature. Each year, REI invests millions in nonprofits that create access to the outdoors and is a leading voice on numerous public policies that relate to the outdoors.

To learn more about the proposed rule change in The Tongass National Forest, click here.

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 20 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 168 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.