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The Tongass National Forest is nothing short of a national treasure. The “Last Salmon Forest,” the Tongass is truly something special and unlike any other place out there. One of the reasons the Tongass is so special is the difficulty of accessing much of the forest and its countless creeks and rivers. However, all of that goes out the window with logging and the road system that would forever frankly ruin this ecosystem. We need to come together to stop this.
From Mark Hieronymus, Trout Unlimited:
In mid-October, the U.S. Forest Service announced their plan to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the national Roadless Rule, in spite of the fact the majority of comments received during the fall of 2018 scoping period opposed any change to this important conservation measure. The nation-wide comment period is now open.
The proposed repeal of the Roadless Rule on the Tongass would negatively impact the fish and wildlife habitat which makes the Tongass a world-class destination for outdoor recreation.
The Roadless areas of the Tongass, as well as the Tongass 77 salmon priority watersheds, contain highly productive fish habitat and unspoiled wildlands that are critical to the vibrant and ever-growing fishing, guide/outfitter, and tourism industries of southeast, which combine to contribute more than $2 billion in economic activity and roughly 26% of jobs in the region annually. The proposed repeal of the conservation measures inherent in the Roadless rule is a direct threat to the success and continued contributions of these industries. In addition to the Tongass, the USFS “preferred alternative” of full exemption contains language that impacts the Roadless rule as it pertains to the Chugach National Forest as well.
The current Alaska administration has declared the state “Open For Business”, yet the cost-benefit analysis (by the federal Office of Management and Budget) of the Roadless exemption clearly states no new timber jobs will be created, and further states the lost revenue to the Guide / Outfitter / Recreation and Tourism sectors will be in excess of $310,000 per year.
The backlog of road maintenance in the Tongass is $68 million, and the backlog of stream restoration for salmon habitat impaired by prior roadbuilding and development is close to $100 million. Given the inability to address these much-needed repairs as well as the added financial losses of the Guide / Outfitter / Tourism industry, it makes no economic sense to green-light new roadbuilding on the Tongass for non-critical functions.
The Roadless Rule has been in place for 16 years and continues to conserve much of the fish and wildlife habitat we rely on for food, work, and recreation. Tell the USFS that you support high-quality habitat by supporting the No Action Alternative.
Please Comment – Soon
The USFS will be taking comments until December 17, 2019.
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