Alaskan Forests and Roads
The Alaska Congressional delegation recently introduced legislation to exempt the Tongass and Chugach National Forests in Alaska from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, reports EarthJustice. The Roadless Rule currently protects 9.3 million acres in the Tongass and 5.6 million acres in the Chugach from logging and new roads, while providing flexibility for needed economic development in rural communities of the region.
The Tongass and Chugach are home to centuries-old trees providing critical habitat for wolves, grizzly bears, wild salmon, bald eagles, and other wildlife. These forests provide sustainable long-term jobs in thriving fishing and tourism industries—both threatened by industrial-scale logging and road building.
Protecting the roadless areas in Alaska helps commercial fishing and tourism, which are the largest private employers in the Tongass and Chugach. The Forest Service has determined that there is sufficient timber on the existing road system, unaffected by the Roadless Rule, to continue logging at current levels indefinitely. So the move to put roads into the national forests is an unnecessary step designed to help just a few timber companies.
Let’s hope the new bill is defeated.