(Anchorage, AK) Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy called the decision by the Biden Administration to repeal the previous administration’s plan to lift roadless rule allowing the forest to allow sensible economic activity in the Tongass National Forest a bad decision that will negatively impact Alaskans.
“I am yet again disappointed in the Biden Administration’s latest suppression of Alaska’s economic opportunity,” said Governor Dunleavy. “From tourism to timber, Alaska’s great Tongass National Forest holds much opportunity for Alaskans but the federal government wishes to see Alaskans suffer at the lack of jobs and prosperity. North to the Future means North to Opportunity, and we will use every tool available to push back on the latest imposition.”
“Once again, federal politics are playing ping-pong with the lives and resources of Alaskans,” said Southeast Conference Executive Director Robert Venables. “Uncertainty and empty promises from every administration diminishes the opportunity to effectively access resources, such as rare-earth and other minerals, and raises the cost to develop the “green energy” hydroelectric assets located in the Tongass which saw expensive impacts on development and maintenance due to regulations, restrictions and construction mandates of the Roadless Rule. Alaskans deserve regulatory certainty and access to the abundant resources that surround them in order to create local jobs, develop renewable energy resources and support tourism opportunities, especially as the economy struggles to emerge from the effects of the pandemic.”
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources monitors state timber sales for compliance with the timber practices act and protection of watersheds. Such standards and monitoring are far above logging practices in other countries, which result in massive deforestation and fires that create large amounts of emissions.
“Proper timber management, through responsible harvest and regrowth, is the ultimate renewable resource. The continued mismanagement of the Tongass National Forest through lock-it-up politics will only result in the ultimate destruction of this American resource, either through fire or natural degradation.” said Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige. “It is counter-intuitive that the Biden Administration espouses carbon reduction on one-hand, but manages 9 million acres of the Tongass in a way that actually reduces its carbon capture capacity. New young-growth timber stands gobble up more atmospheric CO2 than does old growth. A proper, balanced approach to forest management in the Tongass can both protect and sustain the forest while helping to reduce atmospheric CO2. The logic in this decision just doesn’t work.”
Alaska’s petition for rulemaking in 2018 led to the 2020 Tongass Exemption Rule promulgated by the United States Department of Agriculture in October 2020. The rule at the time exempted the Tongass National Forest from the damaging restrictions against road construction and timber harvest in the national Roadless Rule.