Pushback: Dunleavy speaks against campaign to keep Tongass locked down



Anti-timber forces are so bent on keeping Southeast Alaska’s economy locked down, they are shaking their fist over a $200,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources to the Alaska Forest Association to study what areas might be of economic value for timber, tourism, camping, and hunting in the 9.5-million acre Tongass National Forest.

The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council wants the Tongass preserved as a carbon bank for the rest of the world, an offset for climate change, if you will. The group has been calling on lawmakers from Michigan and Arizona to help stop any roads from being ever built in the forest.

Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Forest Service proposed a new rule that would open some areas up for human use. After all, the national forest is considered a multi-use forest, but people can’t use it if they can’t access it.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is all for the change conceptually, and he wants the State to provide the best input possible into the six alternatives for the new federal rule. The public comment period ends Dec. 17.

SEACC, a radical environmental group based in Juneau, doesn’t want the Dunleavy Administration to provide that informed comment. It’s objecting to the use of funds to study the six alternatives. It filed a public records request about the small grant the State gave, and passed its information onto willing allies in Congress.

At the behest of SEACC, Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who chairs the House Resources Committee, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are asking for an investigation into that grant.

But Gov. Dunleavy is having none of it. He issued a blistering statement this week taking aim at uncalled for meddling by SEACC and the Outside Democrats from states where forests are managed for multiple uses.

Here’s how Dunleavy explained the grant: After the Alaska Division of Forestry received $2 million from the Forest Service in 2018, it approved a subgrant of up to $250,000 to the Alaska Forest Association to conduct an economic analysis of the six alternatives in the environmental impact statement.

The analysis “is both important and necessary to determine where harvesting may take place while using the best available industry practices,” the governor wrote.

“Lifting the Roadless Rule also creates new recreational opportunities in the Tongass like kayaking and hiking for Alaskans and visitors from around the world and can increase connectivity between communities in the Southeast region.” – Gov. Mike Dunleavy

“This is another example of extreme environmentalists deliberately cherry picking information to distort and mislead the American public and members of Congress. The grant was appropriate and legal, all the information anyone needs to reach the same conclusion is readily available to the public.” – Gov. Mike Dunleavy

“I respectfully suggest Congressman Grijalva and Senator Stabenow do their homework before asking a federal agency to conduct a costly, time consuming and ultimately pointless investigation into a grant that will provide essential information about lifting the Roadless Rule. Exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule will create new jobs and economic activity in a region hard hit by the misguided policies of a previous administration,” Dunleavy said in his statement.

“As Alaskans we continually need to remind the Washington D.C. establishment that Alaska is a sovereign state. As Governor, I will continue to use our resources and assets to the benefit of all Alaskans.” – Gov. Mike Dunleavy

SEACC wasn’t the only group that raised its fist over Alaska’s study of the alternatives in the EIS.

Working hand-in-glove with the environmental operatives, Alaska Public Media’s Energy Desk asked for the same records in September, and published a news story to show that DNR had made a grant to the Alaska Forest Association, while pointing out it had not made a grant to tribal governments.

[Read the Energy Desk story: Why was fire prevention funding used on the Roadless Rule process in Alaska? Congress members want to know.]

The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States, with 16.8 million acres.

Established in 1907, only 400,000 acres have been harvested to date, or 4 percent of the 9.4 million acres that is forested.


  1. Ketchikan was my home from 1969-1997. I watched as I grew up my town change from an active working community, to now, a tourist trap from hell. The Tongass needs to be logged to stay healthy. We need roads to access other areas of Southeast, which will come from lifting the roadless rule. I love how the only ones wanting this to stay a zoo are the liberal left that has infected our state as a result of tourism. They ruin their own states then move on to infect another area. I hope Dunleavy opens things back up… So the Alaskans that actually live here have access to more fishing, camping, hunting and logging… This state is not the lower 48’s pristine zoo that they seem to want to keep locked up for later. It’s our home, our state. We will do with it as we please. Go Dunleavy!!

    • You aren’t going to get it back unless you squeeze tourism (and I’m all for that).

      “Anti-timber forces are so bent on keeping Southeast Alaska’s economy locked down, ” Really, Suzanne?

      Logging is make-work in SE Alaska. You cannot compete on the market for lumber from Washington or BC… a proven boondoggle in the Tongass (since ca. 1980) that the tax payers will ultimately foot the bill for. The industry will never be profitable, and will always be at the Ax of Congress. “Roadless rule” is nothing but a floating “Bridge to Nowhere”…

      • I beg to differ with you. In the 80’s and 90’s Native Corporations garnered untold millions in the sale of thier timber. I believe Klukwon had 90 million bucks from the sale of thier timber. The “make work organizations” reside in Juneau where Lawyers get paid through environmental groups to litigate any development.

    • Nope, it’s just science. Trees grow and end one of three ways

      Logged and become a benefit and the someday decay and return to the eco cycle.

      Grow and get sick and die, or grow die and decay and return to the eco cycle


      Grow , burn ? killing and destroying and area for years and killing wild life, humans and destroying infrastructure. Then return to the eco cycle.

      Logging and burning sick infectious trees keeps the eco cycle functioning, created a benefit to many and IS ecology sound.

      • The Tongass is a temperate rain forest. 2019 saw 1 wildfire caused by a lightning strike. It burned a quarter of an acre and was monitored but not fought on the ground.
        2018 was a big year. 32 fires burned 63 acres. The forest averages 15 to 20 fires a year. 1 million dollars a year is budgeted for fire preparedness.
        The majority of the fires are human caused and occur in road accessible areas, predominately close to Juneau. So it appears the best fire management for the Tongass would be to limit road access.

  2. Some how we need to figure out how to kick the Federal Government out of land and fish and game management in Alaska.
    It’s a never ending battle with Washington DC.
    John Sturgeon has to go all the way to the supreme Court, just to use a hover craft. Remember all the B.S. the Feds and Native Corporations put lynden through to operate the hover craft on the kuskokwim river to deliver mail?

    The kuskokwim river has a never ending battle over subsistence fishing. Between the State, Feds and Native Corporations, stupidity reigns supreme. Get rid of the Feds and we’ll have one set of rules we can live with.

    Now add in the current caribou population crisis. Bare in mind that the YK Delta is mostly a Federal wildlife preserve, ultimately controlled by politicians in Washington DC, we’re in the beginning of a new war on caribou permits…… It’s pretty straight forward to me, let the State manage State property so we can have fly and shoot predator control that has proven it’s worth a thousand times over for the game populations in unit 19, just North of us. Now when we have multiple packs in excess of thirty wolves, running the base of the Kilbuck Mountains, the caribou have a huge problem. The Feds won’t allow no cost predator control by issuing fly and shoot permits.
    Kick the Feds out, cause their never gonna let us manage a forest.

  3. “After all, the national forest is considered a multi-use forest, but people can’t use it if they can’t access it.”
    This statement does not make much sense.
    The Tongass is Open for pedestrian exploration daily.
    If you mean “if people cannot drive a car in there, it is not open” then that is why we created National Parks in America for the folks who cannot hike physically or are not willing to put forth the effort to explore on foot.
    Remember the Chilkoot Trail or early expansion into the Peter’s Hills?
    Early Alaskans were not dependent on cars to take them everywhere and AK needs some wilderness for our grandchildren to explore….not too mention a home for the wildlife that live in the Tongass.

  4. Hurrah for our Guv for standing up against out of state bullying into the EXPLORATION of a principled and well utilized plan to make use of 17 million acres.

  5. I would like anyone to show me anywhere in the “Constitution of the United States” that gave the Government of the United States any Rights or Power over any land in any State except for Arsenals etc. in Article 1, Section 8, next to last paragraph. This is the total powers of Congress. Article 10 of the Bill of Rights once again reinforces this. Individual States are to be Free and Sovereign. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui

  6. The leftists would have Alaska be another Leftifornia. Forest non-management is what has led to the current infernos all over their state (Leftifornia) and in Alaska, this year. That’s fine for those who don’t really live in Alaska and don’t really care about their own forests, but pretend they are ‘environmentally’ concerned with Alaska. All forests need periodic maintenance (including logging), just like any garden or crop field. Without that management, it all turns into a fire prone, non beneficial hazard for the entire area, when, not if, it burns. Clearing the man made and natural detritus (fire fuel) is a must. Natures way of cleansing by fire is much harsher, and all but inevitable. Taking away most of the fuel that feeds forest fires is not only sensible, but necessary to a healthy forest. Anywhere.
    Then there’s those old non-talking points for the left, especially outside. What jobs? Who cares about jobs? We need that forest because we do. Alaskans don’t need jobs. “We’re from the government and we’re here to help” (words to alert Americans to their peril). Jobs and personal/business opportunity should not be up to the citizens. It’s up to the governments’ (the leftist view).

    • Although I worked on the Swan Lake Fire this summer It was time to burn … what was just as sad was the waste of resource “49 Million that could have generated more by utilization over the past 45 years in proper forest management, had we even attempted it!

  7. Getting rid of the Roadless Rule means so much more than just Tongass old growth logging, as bringing that tax base back to Southeast is pretty important. Just look at all the areas in Alaska where this rule applies… Roads connect villages, towns, and our cities. They allow not only for commerce to move efficiently (lowering costs) by inter-connecting our population, but also allows for business and industry to expand, bringing employment and tax dollars to underserved areas in the state. Roads also support emergency management efforts in bringing aid after a disaster strikes, and allows for the evacuation of citizens rapidly. Alaska has allowed itself to be so locked-down by the federal government and special interests, that the reasons for congress voting to allow us to be a state in the first place, have all but been forgotten…

  8. Here in Washington we have a bazillion acres of timber and the trucks are rolling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every 10 minutes.

    Alaska: seriously forget timber. You cannot compete. If you want to do what Ben suggests, come on down and start making real money.

  9. If environmentalists were serious about having a carbon bank they would support logging the old growth and replacing it with new growth since new forests bank more carbon than old growth forests. But this isn’t about the climate or carbon at all.

  10. Facts swan fire most current cost I can find

    The estimated 167,164 acre Swan Lake Fire is currently listed as the most expensive fire in the country at an estimated cost of $46 million. The fire started in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge with a lightning strike on June 5.

    If we don’t log it’s cost money, lives (?) , destruction of roads,buildings commerce power system, health.

    So, let’s not worry about Washington logging hold on the market without weighing in the cost of NOT LOGGING. Ok the law of supply and demand is real adding AK wood to the market and one can see why out of state logging folks are any sayers .

  11. I have Experienced in Petersburg where pedestrian walk ways are limited to non motorized tools for trail maintenance. Seriously. No weed wackers, no chain saws. In Southeast?
    So what is the result, over grown trails that get little or no use. No matter how many Man hours you apply.
    This is the end game of the radical environmental movement. No human interaction within federally controlled lands.
    Within Southeast Alaska, the federal Big Brother casts a long shadow over our fellow Alaskans. There is an obvious difference in attitude toward freedom of movement and self determination.
    Recall the Clinton fiat declaration that logging was not sustainable in Southeast Alaska. Based on falsified science to justify Slippery Bill’s stance.
    We as Alaskans must recognize the well funded, minuscule group, that perpetuates the myth that all Alaskans want to work for seasonal minimum wage jobs selling trinkets from China to tourists.

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