On March 21, Judge Leon of the District Court in D.C. ruled that the statute of limitations had run out on the State’s challenge to the 2001 Roadless Rule. Earthjustice, assisted by NRDC, has worked tirelessly the past few years to protect the Tongass and Chugach National Forests.
In Southeast, proponents of the timber industry question whether this decision fulfills the “multiple use” requirement of a National Forest. However, what is the timber industry in 2013? Only Viking Lumber on Prince of Wales is functioning, and they export at least 50% of the their trees. Since the pulp mills have closed, many small time loggers are able to bid on small sales. These independent mill owners are supplying our towns with wood products that are in high demand. The timber industry of the past cannot revive; too much has already been cut and the federal government is no longer willing or able to hand out road building subsidies.
And to anyone who is following the scientific debate, it’s well known that a standing forest has many more benefits that clearcuts. Trees absorb a tremendous amount of carbon, an important factor for our changing climate.
The State of Alaska has moved full scale into tourism, and our visitors hope to see undisturbed forest lands. In addition, many of us rely on fish for our way of life, our income or for recreation. Fish require cold clear water, free of human inpacts such as roads and clearcuts. This recent decision is of great benefit to all us us living in the Tongass.