GOVERNOR REMINDS DEMOCRATS ABOUT STATE SOVEREIGNTY
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.
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.