What others say: No Roadless Rule in the Tongass

  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 5:29pm
  • Opinion

Alaska will take the win.

A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed this week that the Tongass National Forest is exempt from the Clinton-era Roadless Rule.

The ruling allows road building in roadless areas and timber harvest.

But, and it’s a major “but,” that is the situation as long as the decision isn’t appealed and lost. The likelihood of no appeal is slim to nothing if history is indicative.

The Roadless Rule has been in dispute here in Alaska for at least 10 years.

That’s a decade of an executive order, followed by one court ruling after another, and uncertainty for Southeast Alaskans.

The indecision, which it essentially is as the courts batter it back and forth, has contributed to the demise of the timber industry. For anti-timber forces, it’s provided a loose end in their effort to shut down the Tongass to harvest.

The 9th Circuit judges — two out of three — agreed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had legitimate grounds for exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule in 2003.

A lawsuit filed by the Village of Kake and extreme environmental groups challenged the exemption in 2009. Then came a ruling against the exemption in 2011, and the state appealed that court decision.

The 9th Circuit’s ruling allows Southeast Alaska to breathe easier when it considers economic growth in the Tongass. It has mining and hydropower projects in development, plus Alaska remains intent on timber harvest in the Tongass.

BUT, until the final gavel falls and the appeals process is exhausted, Alaska still remains in somewhat of a limbo in regard to economic growth in the Tongass. The possibility of an unfavorable appeal exists.

In the meantime, the case has been sent back to the lower court to decide whether further environmental review is necessary.

Still, Alaska will move ahead, planning and preparing for projects necessary to sustain the region. It’s the only way for a future.

The 9th Circuit judges gave us hope for that future this week.

— Ketchikan Daily News,

March 29

More in Opinion

The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, D.C. in this file photo. (File)
Opinion: The Alaskans with the power to defend America’s democracy

It’s well past time to publicly refute Trump’s lie

File
Opinion: Here’s what I expect of lawmakers in a post-Roe America

I urge lawmakers to codify abortion rights at the state and federal levels.

File
Opinion: Confusion over ranked choice voting persists

Voter confusion over ballot procedures will continue

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Voices of the Peninsula: A vote for Walker/Drygas is a vote for Alaskans

It’s easy to forget some of the many lost lawsuits, devastating budget cuts and general incompetence that defines Mike Dunleavy’s term as governor

This photo shows a return envelop for 2022 special primary. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Voices of the Peninsula: Learn how to access your ballot

The recent special primary election was the first time the state conducted an all mail-in ballot election

The Storyknife Writers Retreat in the summer of 2021 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Storyknife: Invest in women writers, read the rewards

Storyknife is committed to providing opportunities to a diversity of writers

Residents line the Sterling Highway in front of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office to oppose Pebble Mine on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: No more delays — finalize protections for Bristol Bay

How many times do we have to say NO to a bad project that would harm Alaskans?

Peter Asmus (Photo provided)
Why Alaska is leading the nation on energy innovation

Alaska is a unique vantage point upon which to review the world’s current energy conundrum

Most Read