Letter: Don’t lift the ‘Roadless Rule’

I found DNR Deputy Commissioner Heidi Hansen’s recent op-ed on the “Roadless Rule” remarkable for its candor.

As she states, it is true that most old-growth logging on the Tongass is uneconomical, and modifying the ‘Roadless Rule’ won’t change that. But if lifting the rule is not about promoting timber harvest as claimed, then that is news to the many Alaskans who have heard about and overwhelmingly opposed this proposal.

The rulemaking process is an unnecessary distraction that won’t help move the region forward. Because of this, at every public hearing in Southeast and every meeting of the Citizens Advisory group formed by Gov. Bill Walker, Alaskans have voiced strong objection to amending the ‘Roadless Rule.’ It has been largely promoted and perceived as an effort to open more ancient old-growth forest habitat to destructive, money-losing timber sales that do far more harm than good.

The state — and U.S. Forest Service — should turn Ms. Hansen’s words into action and take commercial-scale old growth clear-cutting of protected areas for fish and wildlife off the table. And instead of spending the time and money to modify the ‘Roadless Rule’ in the Tongass, the agencies can address the access issues Ms. Hansen raises through the efficient administration of the existing rule. It is not an inflexible tool, and the Secretary of Agriculture just delegated the authority to make decisions under the ‘Roadless Rule ‘from the chief to the regional foresters with this efficiency in mind.

— Pat Lavin

Defenders of Wildlife

Anchorage

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