The Biden Administration recently announced steps to restore national forest roadless area protections in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The proposal is a repeal of the Trump Administration’s 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule, which stripped away long-standing protections under the 2001 Roadless Rule, a federal safeguard that restricts logging and roadbuilding in designated wild areas.
A 60-day comment period began on November 23, 2021 with the publication of a proposal to reinstate protections for 9 million acres of National Forest which were repealed by the Trump Administration last year.
Positive local media attention has grown since the announcement:
- On 1/14/22 the Seattle Times published a Letter to the Editor, Protecting trees: Let old-growth forests stand, by Erik Rigaux that brings attention to the interconnected harmony of forest ecosystems.
“Trees exist in constant harmony, delivering resources to each other to maintain a healthy symbiotic equilibrium and fight off diseases together. A tree left standing after a clear-cut may seem to be spared, but it’s worse for the destruction of those around it.”
- On 1/11/22 the Seattle Times published a Letter to the Editor, Roadless rule: Trees are Priceless, by Chris Chappell arguing that trees cannot be assessed by monetary value.
“In the age of climate change, this strain of thought is necessary. We must consider the ecosystem services that these giants hold in terms of climate mitigation and resilience. This is why tools like the roadless rule are essential.”
- On 1/3/22 the Spokesman-Review published a Letter to the Editor Courage to Protect Lands by Bridget Curran arguing that we must call on the courage found in the American spirit to protect our last-remaining old-growth forests.
“Forests are renewable, but our destruction has far outpaced the scale of renewability. Responsible management shares the land and reserves critical habitat for wildlife to flourish. The American spirit, at its best, blends courage and ingenuity to solve the unsolvable.
We must call on that courage now to protect our remaining old-growth forests while simultaneously creating economically viable jobs with a sense of purpose.”
- On 12/30/21 the Seattle Times published an article, This tree has stood here for 500 years. Will it be sold for $17,500? outlining the history of timber interest in Southeast Alaska.
“Kampnich, who once reveled in felling massive trees here, used to dismiss environmentalists’ objections that clearing the forest would have unintended consequences. He wrote a piece in the 1990s in the Juneau Empire saying just that. But 15 years ago, Kampnich — who is still wiry and fit but now has white, bushy eyebrows spilling over his clear blue eyes — noticed how trees coming up at the exact same time created a biological desert that harms deer, salmon and other wildlife. ‘Some of what they were saying, I saw it happening,” he said. “The conservationists were right.’”
- On 12/26/21 the Spokesman-Review published an op-ed, Bruce McGlen: Are Roadless Areas worth Protecting? with the simple answer that yes, preserving wild lands is self-preservation.
“We are surrounded by compromised ecosystems. It seems clear for the health and well-being of our species and that of others we must protect what little remains of roadless, wild land. Preservation of nature is simply preservation of ourselves. Our saving grace may very well be the realization that we are nature, that we are a part of – not apart from – the natural ecosystem that supports us.”
- On 12/14/21 the Yakima Herald published a Letter to the Editor Soapbox was a good reminder of the importance of involvement by Tim Gavin of Yakima Fly Fishers’ Association arguing that protecting natural resources should not be a political issue.
“Saturday’s Soapbox article from Pat Hesselgesser regarding exempting Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from the National Roadless Rule is a timely reminder that events in Alaska, and perhaps other parts of the world, can have a real impact on the natural resources of Washington state.
Our state’s resources are threatened … orcas, salmon, steelhead, roadless areas and others. We must pay attention to the political and legal processes that are surrounding these discussions.
Saving these resources is not, and should never be, a political issue. These issues must be addressed by science and good judgment. Those who may be impacted negatively by the application of good science should have their issues mitigated.”
- Also on 12/14/21, the Yakima Herald published a Letter to the Editor by Levi Wyatt of Yakima Chief Hops entitled Whether it’s Alaska or here, roadless protection is critical which points out the importance of Roadless areas for clean water.
“Roadless areas, whether they are in Alaska or here in Washington state, provide important benefits like habitat for salmon and other wildlife, clean and safe drinking water and quality water to our customers around the country who depend on clean water to brew their quality ales and lagers with.
As a member of the Washington Brewshed® Alliance, we join with breweries and other beer industry businesses around the state to advocate for protecting wildlands and waterways around the state we call home. We support the current proposal to restore protections for national forest roadless areas in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and will be providing comments on this important issue.
We encourage others to do so as well before Jan. 24.”
- On 12/11/21 the Yakima Herald published Saturday Soapbox: Local support is strong for roadless forest protections by Pat Hesselgesser of Trout Unlimited on why restoring roadless protections in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest matters for Washington state.
“What happens in Alaska will matter here. If the plan to eliminate all 9 million acres of pristine old growth forests in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is successful, you can be sure that Washington state’s 2 million acres of roadless areas will be under attack next.”