Biden USFS To Propose Road Ban On Much Of Alaska Tongass National Forest

"The move would restrict development on roughly 9.3 million acres in North America’s largest temperate rainforest, according to those briefed on the plan, reversing Trump".

"For two decades, Republicans and Democrats have fought over whether to ban roads on more than 9 million acres of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Now, the Biden administration aims to settle the question once and for all.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will propose reinstating a Bill Clinton-era rule to ban logging and road building in more than half of North America’s largest temperate rainforest, the department confirmed. The restrictions had managed to stay in place for years because of a series of court battles, but the Trump administration wiped them out last fall.

“Restoring the Tongass’ roadless protections supports the advancement of economic, ecologic and cultural sustainability in Southeast Alaska in a manner that is guided by local voices,” Vilsack said in a statement, adding that the rule reflects the input of Alaska’s tribal and community leaders “and builds on the region’s economic drivers of tourism and fishing.”

The proposed rule would protect critical habitat and prevent the carbon dioxide trapped in the forest’s ancient trees from escaping into the atmosphere, but Alaska’s governor and congressional delegation say it would hurt the timber industry. Alaska Native leaders, environmentalists and tour operators argue that protecting the region’s remaining wild landscapes will sustain the state’s economy in the long term."

Juliet Eilperin reports for the Washington Post November 18, 2021.

Source: Washington Post, 11/19/2021