The U.S. Forest Service announced sweeping protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest on Thursday, including a proposal to bar road development on more than 9 million acres.
The Biden administration moved Thursday to reverse a Trump-imposed policy that opened major areas of the U.S.’ largest national forest, the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, to logging and road development. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also said it intends to end large-scale old growth timber sales in the area. The forest was originally protected by the 2001 Roadless Rule, which bans logging and road development in certain parts of the country. But in his final months in office, Trump exempted the forest from the rule.
In a Thursday notice, the White House said the administration would look to “repeal or replace” that exemption. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service, told The Washington Post in an email that “the Trump administration’s decision on the Alaska roadless rule was controversial and did not align with the overwhelming majority of public opinion across the country and among Alaskans.” Alaskan officials, such as Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy, opposed the decision, claiming that by withholding rights to the forest, the federal government is withholding jobs from Alaskans.
“The Forest Service has already conducted a thorough analysis and determined that an Alaska-specific exemption from a one-size-fits-all roadless rule was fully justified,” Dunleavy said in a statement, arguing that the move is part of an effort to “put Alaska workers permanently into unemployment lines and wipe out small businesses.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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