The Tongass exception to the national forest Roadless Rule will be reversed by the Biden Administration, meaning that virtually no commercially viable logging can take place in Southeast Alaska on federal land.
During a time when lumber in the United States is setting record prices, there won’t be enough logs to support a mill in Southeast. What logs that will be cut will have to be shipped to China whole, and marketed to the world, rather than America.
The Tongass National Forest has a sustained yield of about 450-500 million board feet, and coincidentally about that much dies every year in the forest, which is three times the size of the state of New Hampshire.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy called the decision by the Biden Administration to repeal the Trump Administration’s lifting of the roadless rule a bad idea.
“I am yet again disappointed in the Biden Administration’s latest suppression of Alaska’s economic opportunity,” said Dunleavy.
Alaska’s petition for rulemaking led to the 2020 Tongass Exemption Rule by the US Department of Agriculture, but with the new Administration and Biden’s promise to radical environmentalists, little activity resulted since the exemption went into effect in October.
Meanwhile, lumber and plywood prices are at an all-time high, and across the nation the prices for building new homes are also going through the roof. It’s a matter of supply and demand, with new housing being the largest usage for wood products, followed by home repair and remodels of existing housing.
An additional choke point on timber prices is the Covid impact on lumber mills, which came to a standstill for much of last year, as U.S. pandemic policy caused a ripple effect throughout many industries. While production at pharmaceutical companies kept pace, lumber mills shut down, truckers are in high demand, while workers have generally been paid premiums by the government to not work at all.