JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska is seeking to restore an exemption from a federal rule that has limited road construction and timber harvesting on national forest land.
In the State of the State address last week, Gov. Bill Walker said that his administration is petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open up a rule-making process aimed at restoring the exemption to the roadless rule.
The state is asking the federal agency to open the issue to more public discussion, said Chris Maisch, the director of the Alaska Division of Forestry. The process could take two or more years if it’s approved, he said.
Opponents to the federal rule have argued that it has reduced access to logging and mining in southeast Alaska, endangering some jobs, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported . If the rule was removed for the state, new roads could be constructed in the Tongass National Forest.
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The current federal plan for the national forest makes the most sense, said Austin Williams, a director of law and policy at Trout Unlimited. He said the plan was created after years of community input, and the state’s petition could “turn back the clock … And really undo a lot of the good work that has been done over the last several years,” he said.
Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org