The State of Alaska took its fight against the U.S. Forest Service to court on Friday, contesting the Biden Administration’s repeal of President Donald Trump’s 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Alaska, aims to restore the Trump-era rule, emphasizing its importance to Southeast Alaska’s economic and socioeconomic development.
Southeast Alaska once had a vibrant timber industry, but starting with the administration of President Bill Clinton, the timber companies have been locked out of any reasonable access to timber harvesting because they are not allowed to build roads in almost any part of the forested area of the national forest. Logging by helicopter in the small tracts provided by the Forest Service is uneconomic.
Court battles had continued for decades, and finally the Trump Administration had restored the ability to build limited access roads in the Tongass. Then came the Biden Administration, which almost immediately reinstated the Clinton roadless rule in the Tongass.
“Alaskans deserve access to the resources that the Tongass provides – jobs, renewable energy resources, and tourism. It’s not acceptable for a government plan to treat human beings within a working forest like an invasive species,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
The Tongass National Forest, spanning almost 17 million acres, is the largest forest in the country, and is home to over 71,000 Alaska residents.
“The Tongass National Forest has robust environmental protections in place, and the Roadless Rule is both unnecessary and continues to cripple the future of Alaskan communities,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. “The State seeks to obtain a final and enduring win with this litigation, in what it hopes to be the final chapter of this long-running saga.”