State challenges federal roadless rule for Tongass

A legal challenge by the state to the Biden administration’s reinstatement of the roadless rule, banning logging and road building on more than nine million acres in the Tongass National Forest, was filed Friday, Sept. 8, in federal court.

The complaint continues more than two decades of battles over the roadless rule protections initially enacted in 2001 under a policy initiated by then-President Bill Clinton. In recent years then-President Donald Trump nullified the policy and opened the forest area to development, with the administration of President Joe Biden reimposing the policy in January of this year.

“The state of Alaska will continue this long-running fight to unburden the Tongass National Forest from the constraints of the roadless rule and to protect the economic and socioeconomic development of Southeast Alaska,” Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor, who filed the complaint in U.S. District Court, said in a prepared statement Friday.

“The Tongass National Forest has robust environmental protections in place, and the roadless rule is both unnecessary and continues to cripple the future of Alaska communities.”

The press office for the Department of Agriculture, the parent agency of the U.S. Forest Service, said it does not comment on pending litigation.

The Forest Service issued a press release in January when the rule was reinstituted, stating that the action “restores longstanding roadless protections to 9.37 million acres of roadless areas that support the ecological, economic and cultural values of Southeastern Alaska.”

As a legal matter, the release noted “the forest is within the traditional homelands of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples,” and the decision “reflects the USDA’s and Forest Service’s commitment to strengthening nation-to-nation relationships.”

The state’s 40-page complaint asserts that the rule is “a national, one-size-fits-all regulation that unlawfully limits opportunities for Alaskans who live and work in Southeast Alaska, given the enormous footprint of the forest across the region,” according to the attorney general’s office.


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 06/21/2024 11:33