Biden administration aims to reverse Trump-era policy on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest: report

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The Biden administration is expected to propose a rule on Friday to reinstate the road ban in about half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest that some heads of state say will hurt economic growth, according to a report.

The Washington Post, citing two people with knowledge of the Department of Agriculture’s US Forest Service proposal, said the movement– if approved – would reinstate restrictions removed by the Trump administration.

About 9.4 million of Tongass’s 16.7 million acres are considered road-free areas. The majority of Tongass is in a natural state, and the forest is one of the largest relatively intact temperate rainforests in the world.

Most of the areas without roads are wildlife habitats, ecosystems and natural areas like ancient temperate humid tropical forests, ice fields and glaciers, and islands facing the open Pacific Ocean “which do not exist anywhere. part elsewhere in the national forest system, “according to the Forest Service.

ER 08: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks on rising food prices during a White House press briefing on September 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images)

Last summer, the Biden team said it aimed to repeal a rule allowing roads in the park that the Trump administration ended, the Post reported.

In June, Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan and Republican Rep. Don Young released a statement criticizing Biden’s decision and said a single rule on the roads “restricted access necessary for tourism. , recreation, timber, mining, transport and the development of renewable energies. ”

“Any action to repeal the final rule and re-impose the no-roads rule will cost jobs, reduce incomes, keep energy prices high and cripple the ability of communities in the region to develop. a sustainable economy all year round, ”they said.

Murkowski’s office and the Forest Service did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News after hours.

Governor Mike Dunleavy, the state’s Republican, told the Post that a delegation from the state’s Congress lobbied the Trump administration to exempt Alaska from the rule.

View of the North Arm of Tracy Arm, an Alaskan fjord near Juneau, Tongass National Forest, Alaska, USA.  (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket via Getty Images)

View of the North Arm of Tracy Arm, an Alaskan fjord near Juneau, Tongass National Forest, Alaska, USA. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket via Getty Images)

“Communities in the southeast of our state need basic access, like roads, and the economic development opportunities and resources that roads provide. Every Alaskan deserves the chance to work. We have the resources. We just need the opportunity, ”said Dunleavy.

The newspaper reports that President George W. Bush also tried to reverse the Clinton-era policy that banned logging in more than half of the park.


Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture for Biden, told the newspaper, “Restoring Tongass’ roadless protections supports the advancement of economic, ecological and cultural sustainability in Southeast Alaska in a way. which is guided by local voices and builds on the economic drivers of tourism and the region. fishing.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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