Begich Reintroduces Bill to Repeal Tongass Roadless Rule
Says Southeast Alaskans need more jobs, not more federal rules
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich re-introduced legislation today to repeal the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The rule applies to the Tongass National Forest, forcing management by a “one-size fits all” federal rule rather than the locally driven 2008 Tongass Land Management Plan.
“It’s past time to eliminate this cookie cutter federal regulation that is stifling the Southeast Alaska economy,” said Senator Begich. “Southeast communities and small businesses need options to strengthen the region’s economy through responsible resource development like potential mining projects on Prince of Wales Island as well as economic timber sales.”
“Unemployment in the rural portions of Southeast Alaska currently averages more than 15%,” said Begich. “Energy costs in those communities without hydropower are too high as well. Instead of adding options, the roadless rule takes them away. The residents of Southeast Alaska don’t need more rules from Washington. They need more jobs and economic diversification.”
As implemented, the rule prohibits new roads and most timber harvest in inventoried roadless areas of Alaska’s two national forests, the Tongass and the Chugach. With most of Alaska’s federal forest lands already off limits to harvest, Begich has championed the need for the Forest Service to have greater flexibility in crafting a reasonably sized timber sale program that keeps the few existing mills alive and allows for expansion into second growth markets.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined her colleague, Sen. Begich, by co-sponsoring the legislation.