The Biden Administration has reversed yet another Trump-era decision, and will prohibit large-scale, old-growth timber sales from the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
The move was not unexpected, as the Administration had signaled this spring that the Tongass will be managed for recreation and to be a hedge against climate change.
Biden is rolling back to a “roadless rule” that came out of the Clinton White House during Bill Clinton’s final weeks in office. It greatly limits any new logging roads that would be built in the Tongass, and also restricts trees from being harvested in more than half of the forest. President Donald Trump had reversed that rule three months before leaving office.
Notice of the impending change came with a regulatory notice June 11.
The Biden Administration will still allow small, uneconomic timber sales, and will allow Natives to cut tree to use for totem poles or other cultural or artistic uses, according to the Forest Service, opening up more area for timber sales.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who first came to Alaska to work at a logging camp in Southeast, said it was a continuation of the “America Last” agenda of the Biden Administration.
“The Forest Service has already conducted a thorough analysis and determined that an Alaska-specific exemption from a one-size-fits-all roadless rule was fully justified,” said Dunleavy said. “Narrow election results and political donations from environmental groups do not justify this federal agency’s policy flip-flop.”
“Much like XL Pipeline workers and others, American and Alaskan families just want the chance to work and support their families. Our state’s southeast communities need fundamental access, like roads, and the economic and resource development opportunities roads provide. Every Alaskan deserves the chance to work. We have the resources. We just need the opportunity,” Dunleavy said. “Let me be clear, where the State of Alaska can partner with the federal government on efforts that make the lives of Alaskans better, Washington D.C. will not find a more willing partner. But where there will be disagreement, my administration will make the feeling of this state known.”
Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige said the Tongass was created for multiple uses.
“Sustainable forest stewardship both protects the ecological values of our forests and supports local economies by providing stable, good-paying jobs,” she said. “Arbitrary reimposition of a roadless rule will deprive Southeast Alaska communities of a diversified economy that includes working forests as well as tourism and fishing.”