Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Alaska Challenges USFS 2001 Roadless Rule

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell and Attorney General John Burns have directed the Alaska Department of Law to file a legal challenge to the Roadless Rule adopted in 2001 by the United States Forest Service. The Roadless Rule prohibited local and regional control over decisions about road construction, reconstruction and timber harvest on roughly 58.5 million acres of national forest lands and grasslands. Until a recent Alaska Federal District Court ruling, the state’s largest national forest, the Tongass National Forest, was exempt from the Roadless Rule under a 2003 settlement agreement with the federal government and Alaska. In a recent court decision, a federal judge sided with the village of Kake and reinstated the Clinton-era roadless rule in southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest. U.S. District Judge John W. Sedwick in Anchorage issued his final decision in May 2011, making a March ruling official. Sedwick found that a Bush administration decision in 2003 to exempt the Tongass from the roadless rule was arbitrary and capricious. “Applying the Roadless Rule to national forest lands in Alaska diminishes jobs and hurts families, and removes local and regional management of the forests from the state, communities, residents, and foresters,” Governor Parnell said. “This is the wrong time for the Forest Service to further restrict timber supply, new mining jobs and development, and impose higher energy costs on communities."...more

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