Alaska is suing the Biden Administration over the cancellation of a Trump-era policy allowing logging and general access to over nine million acres in the state’s Tongass National Forest. The original action, started during the Clinton Administration, was part of a larger “Roadless Initiative.”
The state of Alaska is suing the Biden administration over its decision to reinstate protections from logging for a national forest in the state.
The Biden administration restored the protections on more than 9 million acres that were rolled back under the Trump administration in January, citing biodiversity and climate change in its reasoning.
On Friday, Alaska officials announced they would challenge that decision to protect economic development in their state.
“Alaskans deserve access to the resources that the Tongass provides — jobs, renewable energy resources, and tourism, not a government plan that treats human beings within a working forest like an invasive species,” Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) said in a statement.
The Biden Administration restored those protections in January of this year, citing biodiversity and climate change. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement:
As our nation’s largest national forest and the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, the Tongass National Forest is key to conserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis.
Restoring roadless protections listens to the voices of Tribal Nations and the people of Southeast Alaska while recognizing the importance of fishing and tourism to the region’s economy.
It seems climate change is responsible for all kinds of woes, to the point where some are talking about forcing people into climate compliance; this is just one more in a long list of heavy-handed actions taken by Democrats in Congress and the Executive Branch. It’s important to note that this rule not only prohibits logging but also even road access into the Tongass, effectively removing it from recreational use. (In the interest of fairness, I’d point out that much of the Tongass isn’t amenable to road construction in any case.)
What makes this issue particularly egregious is that most of the elected officials who pontificate about Alaska’s environment have never set foot in the Great Land, much less actually spoken to any Alaskan who wasn’t a member of the Last Frontier’s modest Congressional delegation. Now, however, they are going to have to face some Alaskans over this issue – in court.
The National Forest system was put in place to protect forests, yes. The reason for that protection, initially, was to preserve timber as a vital national resource, and in that, the Forest Service has been very effective; since 1900, the amount of forest in the United States has been very stable, at around 750 million acres. This same source tells us that the average size of trees in the U.S. is increasing and that the overall number of trees is likewise increasing. So we aren’t really in any danger of losing our forests.
The Forest Service’s own website, under “Forest Management,” states in part:
The agency’s top priority is to maintain and improve the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of current and future generations.
“Productivity,” of course, implies that the production of timber is to serve a purpose; that is, it is to be used. Here in Alaska, much of that use is in the form of firewood, to help heat people’s homes through our sub-Arctic winters. So there is a double-whammy here, as not only is the Biden Administration restricting firewood resources, but they are simultaneously engaging in policies that make heating oil and natural gas more expensive.
However, the same Forest Service “Forest Management” page also claims:
Forest management focuses on managing vegetation, restoring ecosystems, reducing hazards, and maintaining forest health.
That doesn’t seem unreasonable. And all of that can be achieved in conjunction with establishing some road access and carefully managed logging.
What this is, is another Federal power grab – or re-grab, as it were, in that this act by the Biden Administration overturns an act by the Trump Administration, which overturned a rule put in place by the Clinton Administration. This kind of thing just seems to go on and on. And all in the nebulous name of “climate change.”