No logging for Alaska: Biden finalizes re-lockdown of Tongass

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In a reversal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service issued a final repeal of the 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule. The move reinstates the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule on the Tongass National Forest, effectively prohibiting timber harvest, road construction and reconstruction within designated Inventoried Roadless Areas.  

“This decision is a huge loss for Alaskans,” said Alaska Gov.Mike Dunleavy. “It’s yet another way the Biden administration is singling out Alaska. Alaskans deserve access to the resources that the Tongass provides – jobs, renewable energy resources, and tourism, not a government plan that treats human beings within a working forest like an invasive species.”

The Tongass covers more than 17 million acres and is the largest forest in the United States. More than 71,000 Alaska residents and the capital city of Juneau are within the Tongass National Forest.

“This unfortunate decision is a blow to the economic and socioeconomic development of Southeast Alaska. It marks another bitter chapter in this long-running saga, once more forcing the State and its citizens to pay the costs of near-absolute preservation. It denies them the most basic and fundamental developments of society, which are taken for granted in nearly every other part of the country.” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor.

Numerous environmental safeguards currently ensure that economic survival is balanced with wise conservation practices and resource protection. Repeal of the 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule prevents the region from safely and responsibly supplying the critical essential minerals crucial for the Biden Administration’s clean energy transition.  

“Alaska’s communities and our regional needs are vastly different than the rest of the nation, and this should continue to be recognized though a common-sense management approach in the Tongass National Forest,” said DNR Deputy Commissioner Brent Goodrum. “The State’s unique and targeted exemption to the sweeping national Roadless Rule was a successful example of public policy allowing appropriate access in a small fraction of the immense Tongass. Continued access would have enhanced subsistence, energy security, recreation, transportation, resource development, and public safety in a multiple-use forest for the direct benefit of the people of Southeast Alaska.”

The former 2001 Roadless Rule remains a national, one-size-fits-all regulation that unlawfully limits opportunities for Alaskans who live and work in the Tongass region, the Dunleavy Administration said. The State and Alaska’s congressional delegation have worked over six consecutive terms of governors (Democratic, Independent, and Republican) to exempt the Tongass from the 2001 Roadless Rule. Only under President Donald Trump was the Tongass carved out as a special case.

Reinstatement of the 2001 Roadless Rule fails to meet the stated purpose and need established in the administrative record and fails to adequately respond to the State’s petition for rulemaking, which prompted the adoption of the 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule, and ignores the recommendations from the Alaska Roadless Rule Citizen Advisory Committee, the state said.

The State of Alaska’s position is that the decision ignores the fact that the Tongass contains more Inventoried Roadless Areas than any other forest in the National Forest System, which has and will continue to be appropriately managed at the forest plan level, as determined in the 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule Record of Decision.

Reapplying the 2001 Roadless Rule to the Tongass violates unique Alaska and Tongass-specific statutory provisions of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and Tongass Timber Reform Act and resumes a flawed and biased decision-making process for determining whether an activity is subject to one of the 2001 Roadless Rule exceptions.

50 COMMENTS

  1. We do have renewable resources we can manage like other states have done with their statehood grants. Please stop reneging on statehood promises. It isn’t nice..

      • Young trees are better at sequestering carbon than mature trees. Saying trees aren’t a renewable resource is the ultimate idiotic in gaslighting leftist spin!

        • The issue is clear cutting like in Washington State and elsewhere (you can see for yourself the EFFECTS of this form of strip plunder, i.e. cutting all the trees including irreplaceable old growth,all down at one time, not considering the effects of them all growing back at the same rate very slowly in the Tongass Forest region, not unlike imagining a Christmas tree farm. What about the irreplaceable quality of the forest itself, heavily burdened land trying to just recover, such as the other plants and animals and fish in streams, rivers, lakes, and glaciers?

          As for the carbon footprint of young vs old … basic logic and biology. When you chop down all the trees for toothpicks in an Australian night club, where did the carbon in the cycle of life go? Bringing back the efficiency of carbon balance in the Tongass would take decades, and not just one or two, maybe even centuries considering the eons of time that the Kwakikutl and Tlingit First Nations lived there. And, by the way, aren’t the opinions of the people that live off their land important… seems to me like a milder version of Russification, to go somewhere and kill off all the fur seals, whales and beavers for vicarious exploitation.

  2. Also Alaska still has needs for roads. Roadless rules ensure lack of commerce and industry in Alaska. A heartless policy against Alaska and our expectation at statehood in 1959! For shame!

  3. Why would Demolition Joe do anything different for Alaskas timber industry than the narrow minded peanuts for brains Jimmy Carter do for the logging industry for the entire Northwest region of North America all on account of a dwindling spotted owl population. There are more extinct species of animals and birds than there are on earth at the present time and we are supposed to believe that Peanuts and Joey from Scranton are going to turn that cycle around? Oh yeah I’ve gotta bridge to the moon I will sell ya for half price today! Alaska doesn’t need oil gas or timber industry. We have all the King crab! Or at least we used to…

      • Reading comprehension is not exactly your strong point there, Lucinda. There is absolutely NOTHING in Andy’s comment that implies that in any way. In fact, what Andy means is pretty clear. Extinction happens, it has happened since life first appeared on this planet, and it will continue to happen.
        .
        Here’s a pro tip. If you read something in a comment that sounds that stupid, go back and re-read the comment. I will be it makes a lot more sense on the second try.

        • ‘Extinction’ happens. Pretty weird comment.

          My guess is that the original poster didn’t pay attention in Biology 101 when they attended UAA last year.

          The spotted owl or whatever creature or plant form that is disappearing isn’t like a genie in a bottle; poof, it’s gone! It disappears because it’s a distinct species, that grows in a surrounding environment that is encroached upon. Many other other life forms die, and some are able to repopulate because they can live and thrive in different environments like fireweed, and the wild poppies grow in Flanders fields after disturbing that that was pre-existing.

      • Lucinda, Green Peace sent me a flyer once informing me that there were likely only 900 Wolves left in the Tongass Forest. Whoa, I wrote back, we better do something about this and quick! 900 Wolves means 26,000 Deer, Mt. Goats and Moose Calves are getting whacked each year! Think of the wholesale bloodshed!

        BTW, Speaking of extinction, or in this case Specism , it seems the Brown Bears of Admiralty Island have been engaged in a program of wolf extermination for eons. Wolves get on the Island but given the dense population of Bears, the wolves just can’t seem to find a toe hold, despite the presence of lots and lots of Deer for them to slaughter.

        Lucinda, has Green Peace sued the Admiralty Island Brown Bears? How about Earth Justice? SEACC? I sure hope somebody does it, poor little wolf pups getting munched on by those mean Bears!

  4. Alaskans haven’t suffered enough. We need to suffer more to appreciate what’s around. I imploy alaskans better get employed before americans outside
    discover Alaska has jobs while states experience not only a
    employment waitlist -people waiting for a worker to quit- but also a food famine where the. States already see empty shelves. We do have jobs here, it just might not be what our loggers, miners, and oil field workers prefer. Still its a job while theywait until alaskans suffered under this lock down. I just don’t want to see alaskans lose out on jobs here because being slow or prideful or lazy.

    • You’re right, Jen! Besides, in the long run humanity will come to be just so much dust and ashes aimlessly drifting through the cosmos! With that in mind, who can fault us for being out to get what we can–all morals and ethics aside!

      Realistically, the future generations haven’t done a thing for any of us. If they have to pick through the ruins that we help leave behind–well, that’ll be their plight.

      We all have to reconcile ourselves to what we are–star stuff. The cosmos pays us no mind, so why should I care about the “stuff” around me? I’m not profiting through the good will of the people yet unborn.

      To top it off, I don’t like my neighbors and they don’t like me! So, hell with them. I’ve got to be for myself, so I’m going to lay to waste as much of the cosmos as I can just “staying alive!”

  5. Since this is “for the environment” it would be good if those trying to “save” the environment actually understood the environment. New growth forests sequester far more carbon than old growth forests. Locking up old growth forests is bad for the environment. If the goal is to sequester carbon then we should be removing old growth forests and replacing them with new growth forests. Anyone who has been paying attention knows this isn’t about sequestering carbon, or saving the environment.

    • Great Steve. Now explain that. You take the time to drop insults so take the time to indulge us in your great knowledge of biology how the logging of trees faster than they can grow is renewable.

      • You totally shot your own butt off when you referenced biology. Idiotic, but funny to read.

        The art and science involved here is forestry. It’s an old and established science, dating back 100s of years.

        It’s an actual proven science, too. Not like “climate change” where the goalposts alter weakly (intended) and there is zero track record to support it.

        Let me help you just a touch. The Sitka Spruce actually grow very quickly. It’s the Hemlock which take so much time to grow.

        Responsible forest management would ensure a steady harvest of trees -and resulting jobs, many for natives-for generations and have minimal overall impact on the environment. This is widely established in such conservation bastions as, say, Europe.

        No one, outside of the voices in your head, is discussing clear cutting the Tongass. Just using it responsibly, and renewably.

        • Indulging in this idle knowledge of Europe and forestry, I invite you to read ‘Landscape and Memory’ by Simon Sharma, and then take General Biology 101, any environmental science class, logic and rhetoric, as well as biostatistics. Then, come back and support your opinion about clear cutting old growth forests vs Christmas tree farms on the ancestral lands of First Nations culture thousands of years old. Have you ever been to the Southeast cultural part of Anchorage Historical Museum. Did you ever see the cedar dugout canoes and totems? They are a significant part of Alaska’s culture, as well as more recent North Slope oilfields.

      • Who said anything about logging trees faster than they can grow, that absolutely absurd!

        It is well known that smaller trees grow faster and thus capture more carbon than older trees, in fact trees become less efficient at processing carbon as they get older. Old growth forests are known to be essentially carbon neutral, they block out new growth and slowly die off so any growth seen on these old trees is offset by the deaths of the neighboring trees that then slowly rot and release carbon on to the forest floor. The best of both worlds is to remove old stagnate stands of trees, remove that captured carbon and lock it up in a longer term storage like buildings, and replace it with a new forest that captures more carbon to be stored away later. One old tree capturing as much carbon as what one young tree does is an obvious fallacy, how many smaller trees fit into the space as one large tree and how many smaller trees need to die in order for one large tree to grow? Science tells us the answer to these questions and the answer is clear, new forests with many young growing trees captures more carbon than old growth forests with few trees.

        Here’s an article that explains it and links to studies, for your viewing pleasure. ‘https://psmag.com/environment/young-trees-suck-up-more-carbon-than-old-ones’

        • And from another article…
          “Young forests have many trees and are excellent at capturing carbon. Young trees grow quickly and are able pull in carbon rapidly.”

          “Old-growth forests have a more fixed, or less dynamic, carbon cycle within live and dead trees and the soil…Large individual trees may take up as much carbon as an individual middle-age tree, but since there are fewer trees in an old growth stand, the total additional carbon capture is often lower.”
          ‘https://extension.psu.edu/how-forests-store-carbon’ there are many, many more

    • Ok Steve so old growth forests are bad for the environment. Got it. Thanks for educating us on that. If that’s the case then we should log all old growth forests correct. How old is an old growth forest just so I know? At what age do you log them so they don’t damage the environment?

        • Progressives are incapable of fostering logical arguments. They thrive on apocalyptic rhetoric and emotion.

          I admit part of me is for clear cutting if it would shut them up for 10 min.

    • What we need to do is just clear cut the whole damn thing. Every tree. Then we slaughter every bear, moose, wolf, etc in the whole place. Plus depopulate the inside passage of sea life.

      Once we’ve done this, then we pave it all over with nice petroleum based asphalt. Maybe 15 ft thick.

      While we’re at it, melt all the glaciers.

      This way we can seal any and all nutrients into the soil forever and protect the land for 1000 years
      Make the Tongass look like New Jersey Turnpike.

      On the plus side we have now made SE the safest place in Alaska for the homeless and created the worlds largest drag show stage.

    • Steve occasionally says some good things, but it seems that he doesn’t have a degree in Biology. Since one of my degrees is actually in Biology, I volunteer to answer Loren. Carbon as a pollutant is a myth. The cycle of carbon gives us all life. The massive amount of carbon sequestered in old growth forests cannot be re-sequestered by a new growth forest in our lifetime, but that’s not the point. The CO2 in the atmosphere is at near extinction levels, let’s double it and see massive prosperity. That’s what they do in commercial greenhouses. If Dunleavy were honest, he would have said, “This decision is a huge loss for my political donors, my donors deserve access to the resources….” When the Tongass was being actively logged years ago, that activity was subsidized by our federal taxes to the tune of $50,000 per logger per year. And most of the Virgin old growth timber was being sold to Asia. The US does not have a shortage of domestic timber, so there is no excuse to log the old growth Tongas any more than the Sequoia forest in California.

    • Being that we always have our hands out to the federal government looking for tax dollars… yes I would say it is their business. Is it the feds business when the fishermen want relief funds? Is it the feds business when the natives need money? Is it the feds business when we need supplemental income for our roads, airports, medical, covid relief because a cruise ship didn’t show up? I think they have every right to help us manage our natural rescources if we are living off of their tax dollars.

    • So we can live off the backs of the federal taxpayers? But they can’t have a say I’m how we manage our natural resources? Explain further please I would like to hear your logic behind your case. I would think that if you look at the records of the amount of federal money alaska has spent. Then they have every right to do whatever they want with alaskas resources.

  6. Part of the plan. Fishing is being shut down, logging now, mining is next. But hey, we can survive on the Permanent Fund and Carbon Credits. No one in Alaska will really work anymore, we’ll just sit around and wait for Murkowski to hand us our daily crumbs.

  7. Loren, in Southeast Alaska the problem is that Trees grow back so fast and thick that they need to be thinned out.
    Thinning juvenile trees makes trees available for harvest in decades instead of centuries. You see Loren, engineered wood , doesn’t require an old mature tree. I’ve felled 40 year old Sitka Spruce that were almost 3′ in diameter at the butt.
    Lots of wood fiber in these trees for OSB Sheeting and Joists .

  8. L follow the science. There is a lot more to science than you can delimit or know at this time. But there are scientists who do know and wonder at changes in the earth. There was a time when Alaska was tropical and all vegetation canopies grew much faster than at present having to do with hydrogen infusions etc. God owns this planet. He can and will change it instantly for the better instantly shortly.

  9. Big news. Feb 1 the Republican house will begin studying the weaponization of federal agencies against states and opposite political views. GREAT NEWS.

  10. I’m often amazed, but never surprised, at the lengths white liberals will go to to keep natives from having good paying jobs.

    It’s almost like a …liberal manifest destiny/bigotry of some sort.

  11. Since the Biden Administration is illegitimate and corrupt anyway, ignore the Federal Government and use Alaska’s resources to help Alaska. Tell Biden to pound sand!

  12. Indulging in this idle knowledge of Europe and forestry, I invite you to read ‘Landscape and Memory’ by Simon Sharma, and then take General Biology 101, any environmental science class, logic and rhetoric, as well as biostatistics. Then, come back and support your opinion about clear cutting old growth forests vs Christmas tree farms on the ancestral lands of First Nations culture thousands of years old. Have you ever been to the Southeast cultural part of Anchorage Historical Museum. Did you ever see the cedar dugout canoes and totems? They are a significant part of Alaska’s culture, as well as more recent North Slope oilfields.

  13. We need to get back to the Good Old Days of the Tongass in the 90’s when we had a very effective corporate welfare program that propped up the Asian companies that processed the timber.

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