The Tongass National Forest sign stands near the Auke Village Recreation Area. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Tongass National Forest sign stands near the Auke Village Recreation Area. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Feds aim to block Tongass forest logging

At 16.7 million acres, Tongass is the largest national forest in the country.

Associated Press

JUNEAU — The federal government said Thursday that it’s beginning the process of repealing a Trump-era rule that permitted road-building and logging harvesting in an enormous Southeast Alaska rainforest that provides habitat for wolves, bears and salmon.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that a proposed measure to repeal last year’s rule will be published for public comment next week, beginning a 60-day process.

The previous rule exempted more than 9 million acres in the Tongass National Forest from a 2001 rule that banned road construction, reconstruction and timber harvesting in roadless areas, with some exceptions.

At 16.7 million acres, Tongass is the largest national forest in the country.

Conservationist and Alaska Native communities had opposed the exemption, arguing it threatened wildlife, old-growth rainforest and local economies that rely on tourism and fishing. They applauded Thursday’s announcement.

“The Tongass is a priceless resource and a critical tool in the fight against climate change, and this action brings us one step closer to ensuring that our forest wildlands remain protected for good,” Sierra Club Alaska Chapter Director Andrea Feniger said in a statement.

Andy Moderow of the Alaska Wilderness League agreed. “We commend President Biden and Secretary Vilsack in taking steps to restore the faith and trust of Alaskans who recognize that industrial-scale, old-growth logging is a relic of the past in Southeast Alaska,” he said in a statement.

Alaska lawmakers have supported the exemption, however. When the Biden administration first announced plans to repeal or replace the exemption in June, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan called the decision “misguided,” and U.S. Rep Don Young said it was “yet another nail in the coffin for economic opportunity” in Southeast Alaska.

Sullivan had said the roadless rule is a hindrance to activities such as mineral development, building energy projects and connecting communities.

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchor Point house fire leaves 1 dead, 1 in serious condition

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

EPA logo
Alaska Native group to receive EPA funds for clean water projects

The agency is handing out $4.3 million to participating tribal organizations nationwide.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 6 new COVID deaths

The deaths, which included a Kenai woman in her 40s, pushed the total to 840 since the pandemic began.

Ryanna Thurman (right) speaks to a library employee at the Soldotna Public Library on Thursday, March 25 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna library seeks OK for grant fund purchases

The funds are made available under the federal American Rescue Plan Act

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Kenai man killed in vehicle rollover

The man was travelling northbound on the Sterling Highway on Tuesday.

Cheryl Morse and Tom Kleeman prepare Thanksgiving lunch at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Food bank opens doors for Thanksgiving lunch

“We don’t know what to expect, so we’re trying to still be cautious on our limited seating.”

Carter Kyle (left), Lincoln Kyle (center) and Brandon Kyle (right) hand off Thanksgiving meals at a drive through event hosted by the Salvation Army on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Thanksgiving on the go

Salvation Army hands out meals in drive-thru event

Bench creator, Brad Hughes, pours the molding material over the clay while Rob Wiard and Matt brush the liquid rubber over each character on the bench to ensure it is covered evenly. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Molds for the Loved Lost Bench are underway

Construction for the memorial bench continues as the rubber molds to shape the concrete are made.

Most Read