The North Etolin Roadless Area is located on Etolin Island in the Tongass National Forest within Southeast Alaska. Roadless areas in the Tongass have exceptional wilderness value and areas of high biological value. Although about half of the big old trees on the Tongass have already been felled for logging, the Roadless Rule helps protect about half of what is left. Roadless areas are home to salmon, spruce grouse, goshawks, bears, wolves, and many other birds and wildlife. Roadless areas provide humans with opportunities for fishing, hunting, bird-watching, backpacking, and wilderness solitude.
The mountainous landscape in the North Etolin Roadless Area is quite variable, with steep drainages, rounded knobby summits, and sharp crests. The steep slopes and well-drained soil is the perfect growing medium for cathedral forests of Sitka spruce, hemlock, and both red and yellow cedar. Within these dense forests, wolves and other animals make their homes. The wolf found in the North Etolin Roadless Area, and in Southeast Alaska generally, is the Alexander Archipelago wolf, a smaller, coastal subspecies of the gray wolf. These wolves rely on their primary prey, the Sitka black-tailed deer, and both species benefit from large intact old growth forests in the North Etolin Roadless Area. Deer and wolves make their home within these protected landscapes in the Tongass National Forest and because healthy connectivity exists between these areas, they are able to thrive.
The Roadless Rule operates on the Tongass to protect this roadless area and others from roadbuilding and logging. But efforts to chip away at these protections are underway, and the Tongass roadless areas are threatened by a rollback that specifically targets the big old trees that provide homes for wildlife.