Trump Delivers Another Victory for Alaska

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Washington, October 15, 2019 | Ben Goldey | comments

Today, Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04) and Vice-Chairman for Indian Affairs and Oceans Don Young (AK-At Large) released the following statements after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement offering a range of alternatives to roadless management and a proposed Alaska Roadless Rule:

Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): "The Tongass is America’s largest national forest, home to almost 17 million acres of natural resources. Of those 17 million acres, 13 million are already explicitly restricted from resource development. The Roadless Rule, a burdensome Clinton-era regulation prevents road construction and timber harvesting across the vast Tongass. Not only has this costly regulation decimated the timber and mining industry, it also makes conservation of ecologically critical areas more difficult. Exempting Alaska from this one-size-fits-all government regulation will create much needed opportunities for Alaska and America."

Vice-Chairman for Indian Affairs and Oceans Don Young (AK-At Large): "I sincerely thank Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and President Donald Trump for their continued commitment to protecting Southeast Alaska’s economic viability for years to come. Since March, I have been working closely with the President and senior White House staff to secure a Roadless Rule exemption for the Tongass. Moving forward with the EIS process is the critical next step in lifting this rule for good. I have always said that the Roadless Rule should have never been applied to Alaska, and by pursuing its amendment, this Administration has once again proven their commitment to putting people and their livelihoods first. I am optimistic that this decision will allow for proper management of the Tongass to provide opportunities for tourism, fishing, and wildlife viewing as well as mining, energy development, and timber. The U.S. Forest Service has a multi-use mandate for its lands that includes a timber harvest, and defending this mandate is key to ensuring that Alaska is entrusted to Alaskans." 

Background:

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced is is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement offering a range of alternatives to roadless management and a proposed Alaska Roadless Rule.

At 16.8 million acres, the Tongass National Forest is the largest in the nation. Coupled with the Chugach National Forest, Alaska contains over 12% of the total acreage in the national forest system. Over 90% of the Tongass is inaccessible by road. The lack of access to timber not only costs Alaskans good-paying jobs in an important, but artificially declining industry - but also promotes premature tree death and degenerating forest health from disease and infestations. The Roadless Rule also effectively blocks implementation of the multiple-use mandate that applies by law to federal forest lands. 

Courtesy of the Department of Agriculture:

The USDA Forest Service will publish the documents in the Federal Register this week. The publication will begin a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule, and on each alternative outlined in the draft environmental impact statement.

The draft environmental impact statement, prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act, provides an analysis of six alternatives, which are options, choices, or courses of action related to roadless management in Alaska. The alternatives range from no action to the removal of the Tongass from the 2001 Roadless Rule. The Department has identified Alternative 6, which is a full exemption, as the preferred alternative at this time.

More information can be found HERE.

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