The U.S. Forest Service and the State of Alaska want to unravel the Roadless Rule on the Tongass National Forest to allow clearcut logging and road building in our roadless wildlands. Our best defense – YOU.
Unable to convince any federal court that the State’s repeated challenges to the Roadless Rule had merit, earlier this year the State of Alaska instead petitioned the Trump administration for a statewide exemption from the Rule, hoping an industry-friendly administration would remove this essential protection from the Tongass.
In early August, the Forest Service announced an agreement with the State to signal the Forest Service’s intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) assessing the potential impacts of withdrawing the Roadless Rule’s protections on the Tongass.
Last week and with little notice, the State rushed out an aggressive schedule of public hearings on the Notice of Intent, all set to take place within the next seventeen days, at a time of year when they know well that most Southeast Alaskans are out on the Tongass fishing, putting away mushrooms and berries, and hunting – and thus challenged to make it to last minute hearings.
Nevertheless, this is your first chance to comment on the environmental, social, and economic issues that the Forest Service needs to take a hard look at before messing around with the places you fish, hunt, and play in and the wildlife, salmon, and clean water they support. The Forest Service has been listening to the timber industry and State; now it’s your turn – and we’re here to provide support as you prepare your comments or practice your testimony, as needed.
There are two ways to participate in the meetings over the next three weeks: attend a public meeting, or submit a comment online.
Additional scoping meetings are Ketchikan on Sept. 17, Hoonah on Sept. 17, Craig on Sep. 18, Angoon on Sept. 18, Point Baker/Port Protection on Sept. 19, Tenakee Springs Sep. 19, Wrangell on Sept. 24, Sitka on Sept. 24, Petersburg on Sept. 25, Yakutat on Sept. 25, Kake on Sept. 26 and Anchorage on Sept. 27 and Washington, DC on October 4. Time and locations can be found here.
Online comments can be submitted here.
When you make your comments, consider incorporating the following:
- The Forest Service must keep this process transparent and open – the public must be able to attend meetings held by both the Forest Service and the State, and notes must be made available for our collective review;
- The Roadless Rule keeps the Tongass intact and healthy by preventing wasteful and unnecessary logging roads that fragment the forest while allowing needed roads, like highways that connect communities, road access to mining claims, and logging incidental to otherwise permitted activities, like utility corridors and hydropower projects;
- Since its adoption in 2001, the Roadless Rule has maintained the resiliency of our intact forests, provided key habitat for abundant wildlife, and safeguarded Southeast Alaska’s salmon runs and the subsistence, commercial, and sport uses they support;
- Building roads on these remote and rugged lands comes at tremendous cost to U.S. taxpayers but benefits less than one percent of Southeast Alaska’s economy;
- The protection of old-growth forests is essential for our region’s tourism, recreation, and fishing industries;
- The Tongass timber industry has been in a state of decline primarily because of permanent and fundamental changes in global timber markets, high labor costs, and far distance from markets, and;
- The Roadless Rule’s commonsense restrictions only restrict building roads for logging, not projects like mining, highways, or hydropower development.
This is just the beginning of a much longer process, but it’s critical that we make a strong showing right out the gate in communities through Southeast Alaska, and generate as many comments from those in support of the Roadless Rule as possible, both in Southeast Alaska, and beyond.
Take a stand with us this week to send a strong message to the Forest Service and State of Alaska to protect our irreplaceable wild forests by protecting the Roadless Rule in Alaska.
P.S. The fight for the Roadless Rule is a big one, and it’s just getting started – make a contribution today to help SEACC do essential work with communities to ensure your voice is heard!