Proponents of the exemption, including Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state’s congressional delegation, praised the announcement, saying the roadless rule hinders responsible timber harvest, mineral development and energy projects to lower costs, and that the exemption would benefit the economy of Southeast Alaska.
Opponents said removing of Roadless Rule protections in the Tongass threaten salmon habitat, food security, tourism and some of the wildest places remaining on earth.
SalmonState Executive Director Tim Bristol said that for the last 18 years the roadless rule has protected the Tongass from logging roads and clear cuts that for decades were allowed to degrade, and in some cases destroy, some of the finest salmon and wildlife habitat anywhere in the world. The push to remove protections for the Tongass habitat comes in the wake of pressure from the timber industry, the state’s congressional delegation and governor in spite of public testimony against the move in Southeast Alaska.
Meredith Trainor, executive director of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, concurred. The Roadless Rule is great for the fishing industry. Intact forest helps protect salmon streams. “The shade is important,” she said. “Leaving logs in the streams give salmon protection in their natal streams.”
Forest Service officials are in the process of scheduling public meetings and subsistence hearings, which will be made available on the Alaska Roadless Rule project website,
Written comments may be submitted, until Dec. 17, on the Forest Service web at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=54511 or sent via email at email@example.com. Comments can also be mailed to USDA Forest Service, attn.: Alaska Roadless Rule, P.O. Box 21628, Juneau, Alaska, 99802, or fax to 907-586-7852. They can also be delivered in person at the Forest Service’s offices located at 709 W. 9th Street, Room 535B, Juneau, Alaska 99801.