Today the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska entered a final judgment in a case involving intact, roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest. The case was brought by a Native village, tourism businesses, and conservation groups. The judgment reinstates the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in the Tongass. The “roadless rule” blocks expensive and controversial new logging roads and clearcuts in intact forests while allowing other economic development—including hydropower, transmission lines, mining, and tourism projects—to proceed.
Plaintiffs in the case made the following statements:
“The roadless rule strikes the right balance for our community and will help us move forward. It protects our traditional uses while allowing new access to inexpensive, reliable hydropower,” said Mike Jackson with the Organized Village of Kake, the tribal government for Kake, Alaska. “The remaining intact forests around Kake are essential sources of food, medicine, clothing, and traditional items for artistic and spiritual use. Our deer hunting and other customary uses of the forest have suffered too much already from past logging. The roadless rule will limit further losses of intact forest while allowing construction of the Kake-Petersburg intertie and future hydro projects we need to foster economic development.”
“The roadless rule also helps with the transition toward more economically viable and sustainable management in the Tongass,” Jackson added. “In Kake, we have been working with the Forest Service to plan for stewardship projects and small-scale timber sales from the existing road system that would actually benefit our community. The Forest Service has figured out that roadless area timber sales don’t work any more, because the roads are way too expensive. That money is much better spent to restore streams and forests from past damage, and to maintain the existing roads.”
“The roadless rule will help small businesses like ours,” said Hunter McIntosh of The Boat Company, which operates a small tour business in the region. “The natural values of intact watersheds are essential for the visitor industry in Southeast Alaska. Very few folks will pay to go see clearcuts and decaying logging roads. There are more than 3,200 jobs in Southeast Alaska in recreation and tourism. And there are another 3,800 jobs in the seafood industry, which depends critically on salmon spawning streams in the old growth forests of the Tongass.”
Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council represent the Organized Village of Kake, Alaska Wilderness Recreation & Tourism Association, The Boat Company, Sierra Club, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Tongass Conservation Society, Greenpeace, Wrangell Resource Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and Cascadia Wildlands in the case.