WaPo: Trump administration proposes expanding logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

I wonder who pushed Trump to OK this….

Trump administration proposes expanding logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

The Trump administration Tuesday proposed allowing logging on more than half of Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest, the largest intact temperate rainforest in North America.

President Trump instructed federal officials to reverse long-standing limits on tree cutting at the request of Alaska’s top elected officials, on the grounds that it will boost the local economy. But critics say that protections under the so-called “roadless rule,” finalized just before President Bill Clinton left office in 2001, are critical to protecting the region’s lucrative salmon fishery and tourism operations.

The U.S. Forest Service said it would publish a draft environmental impact statement this week that, if enacted, would exempt the Tongass from the 2001 roadless rule.

10 thoughts on “WaPo: Trump administration proposes expanding logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest”

  1. “I wonder who pushed Trump to OK this….”

    My wild guess is the timber industry, western GOP politicians and maybe even some Society of American Foresters members.

    Reply
    • Alaska has been identified as the most corrupt state in the union. It has long since been a coveted corporate export colony. As the last tattered cardboard facade of MAGA stagecraft blows in the wind, this is the end game for Corporatist authoritarian regimes of Trump and Koch’s AK’s guv, Dunleavy.

      “Corporatist Authoritarian Regimes are those in which corporatism institutions are used extensively by the state to coopt and demobilize powerful interest groups”. This type has been studied most extensively in Latin America.[6] (Wiki)

      The cooptation of the “powerful interest groups” were of Gangreen’s takeover of principled grassroots environmentalism in Alaska. You can bet that after the coup d’ etat of the grassroots by collaborating CONservationists, that they will appear to be fighting tooth and nail to oppose this coup de grace of the Tongass.

      Instead, what will happen according to the collaborationist’s well established script, is they’ll cut a deal thats been patiently waiting in the wings for a few years now, birthed at Tongass Futures Roundtable and directed by TNC.

      The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s millions lavished on Trout Unlimited, The Nature CONservancy and SEACC’s agendas has produced “Tongass 77“ as the go-to, quid pro quo for MAGAificent opportunities such as Trump’s&Koch’s Dunleavy provides.

      Or perhaps Trump doesn’t even need to cut a deal with these feckless opportunists for corporate charity posing as “conservationists” these days?

      Either way, the deer in the headlights is a Sitka blacktail and the American electorate who never got the memo of the coup d etat.

      Reply
      • In a previous post on this blog, (formerly cast as the “New Century of Forest Planning,” and appropriately reborn in the rapidly accelerating Climate Emergency of our American West, Siberia, Greenland, the Amazon, the Everglades, Lebanon, and too many other places to list — are annually and catastrophically aflame), “Smokey Wire” emerged from those flames.

        As far as I know, Sharon has remained steadfast in her outlier beliefs as to the origins and mechanisms of our climate emergency and other climate denialist tropes, but Sharon at least clearly understood that where there is denialism by smoke and mirrors, there is no denying there is still fire. A LOT of fire — in some mighty strange places, and virtually everywhere we look on the landmasses of the planet.

        I’ve learned one cannot pretend to solve problems by simply treating symptoms. In a world aflame, just “putting out the fires” simply treats the symptoms and doesn’t solve the problem of how and why they keep starting. One can make a great deal of money pretending that is true, but beyond profiteering, it gets those of us — who actually care about solving problems by addressing causation– nowhere.

        Just a few days ago, Jon Haber posed the open question, “Tongass transition to young -growth — are we there yet?”

        Given the “Transition” was a finely crafted Trojan Horse artfully constructed by corporate foundation Trustees intent on creating the impression those who championed the Transition were protectors of old growth( OG), it saddened me greatly that in all likelihood, Jon neither attended the Tongass Futures Roundtables nor the Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC) meetings — at least in the several sessions of each I’d religiously attended– we hadn’t crossed paths.

        So apparently, Jon either simply accepted the TAC’s foundation-funded collaborationists’ premises on good faith the “Transition” gift horse was an actual real live thing, or Jon is in on the ruse.( and I don’t believe he was or is.) Regardless, Jon tragically failed to look in the Trustee’s Trojan gift horse’s mouth, and seeing no threat, happily drug the gift horse inside Smokey’s gates.

        It turned out however, what was inside the belly of the Trustee’s Transition Trojan Horse readily revealed itself: an agency careerist line officer and ex-Deputy Chief of the USFS; a corporate timber consultant; and a credentialed institute of science. The thing that made this Trustee gift horse so alluring though, was the tantalizing premises of an actual end of OG destruction of the Tongass and the TAC’s Transition promise chiseled into a Tongass Plan amendment!

        I challenged those already patently absurd disproven, premises with local, and historical knowledge and that Trojan Tranisition team suddenly fell silent — and for good reason. The destruction of the Tongass is centered around a long-known, widely-proven fundamentally failed economic policy which has created catastrophic social, environmental and economic tragedies.

        Mater and GEOS had obviously been paid to “collaborate” along with agency-approved, TAC “conservation” representatives (principally, the Sitka Conservation Society and The Nature CONservancy

        Sure enough, in a study revealed in August 2019, Mater and GEOS found their “wall of wood” alright, (after all, there were decades of clearcut Tongass OG rainforests on tens of thousands of acres of the highest biological AND silvicultural value to inventory.

        Only one problem, and that problem was well-known by industry and Transition collaborationists alike: Their Transition Trojan Horse premises of an ACTUALLY MARKETABLE YG timber base, was (“TO BE DETERMINED”) and, just like real life horses and real life pigs:

        Not even the Transition Trojan Horse can fly.

        Now, SOME horses can fly, but that’s just unicorns, Greek myths and modern fairy tales.

        Within a few days of these two posts, between the Transition Trojan Horse and the imminent elimination of the Roadless Rule on the Tongass, we get the full dose of bitter REALITY– the collaborationists, the TAC, Trustees and the USFS were just another agency Dog and Pony sideshow. The Tongass will be stripped of its OG assets and minerals for corporate exploitation, regardless of the public outcry.

        Sure, there was money to be made pretending that by collaborating in treating the effects of this problem of Tongass OG rainforest destruction, everything would magically turn out.

        The fact is, the problem framed by corporate foundation Trustees and their collaborating CONservation lobbyists is a Sophie’s Choice of whether Tongass OG or YG will continue to be destroyed. Like the Trojan Horse, it served its purposes of clever distraction.

        The ACTUAL problem yet to be solved though, is the predatory economic policies of neoliberal extractivism and its well known tragic social, environmental and economic consequences. Until that causation is eliminated, the Tongass will be stripped bare, our communities enslaved, and impoverished just as in other third world export colonies, and our planet will continue to go down in flames.

        Reply
        • You are correct that I am a kibitzer from afar, but I do see a role in drawing out insights from those who actually may know what they are talking about. The battles I choose for myself tend to be at the policy margins rather than attacking windmills.

          One does have to wonder how the collaboration participants (roundtables, TAC) will feel about their efforts and accomplishments after this political coup by the state.

          Reply
          • Re: “…drawing insights from those who actually may know what they are talking about. The battles I choose for myself tend to be at the policy margins rather than attacking windmills.

            Jon,
            Thanks for filling in the blanks on your true perspectives and persuasions here, (“from the horses mouth” so to speak).

            Unfortunately, none of us can claim we’re on these “policy margins” any more.

            Characterizing my concerns and inferring my direct experience of witnessing whole communities being directly impacted where I live, and yet not knowing what I’m talking about while “attacking windmills.” speaks volumes about your chosen loyalties and sense of ethics.

            Speaking of volumes, I couldn’t help but notice recent headlines, in which “Across the globe, millions join biggest climate protest ever”

            https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/21/across-the-globe-millions-join-biggest-climate-protest-ever

            The lede to the Guardian story notes:
            “Young and old alike took to the streets in an estimated 185 countries to demand action” ” 1.4 million people taking action across Germany” alone.

            My impression is you, and your ilk’s “windmills” who “know what they are talking about” are vastly outnumbered.

            Reply
  2. Here’s the USFS Press release:

    USDA Forest Service seeks public comment on draft Environmental Impact Statement,
    alternatives to a proposed Alaska Roadless Rule

    Development of a proposed state-specific rule is in response to a petition from the State of Alaska

    JUNEAU, ALASKA – Oct. 15, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement offering a range of alternatives to roadless management and a proposed Alaska Roadless Rule. If adopted, the proposed rule would exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule.

    The USDA Forest Service will publish the documents in the Federal Register this week. The publication will begin a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule, and on each alternative outlined in the draft environmental impact statement.

    The draft environmental impact statement, prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act, provides an analysis of six alternatives, which are options, choices, or courses of action related to roadless management in Alaska. The alternatives range from no action to the removal of the Tongass from the 2001 Roadless Rule. The Department has identified Alternative 6, which is a full exemption, as the preferred alternative at this time. The full range of options are:

    * Alternative 1 takes no action and would leave all of Alaska under the 2001 Roadless Rule, including the Tongass National Forest.
    * Alternative 2 provides regulatory protection for the majority (89%) of key watersheds inside roadless areas and would convert 18,000 old-growth acres and 10,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.
    * Alternative 3 provides regulatory protections for all key watersheds inside and outside roadless areas, creates a community priority roadless designation that allows for recreational development and timber sales under 1 million board feet, and would convert 76,000 old-growth acres and 14,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.
    * Alternative 4 restricts harvest and road-building activities in scenic viewsheds and most (88%) key watersheds inside roadless areas and would convert 158,000 old-growth acres and 15,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.
    * Alternative 5 would remove 2.3 million acres from roadless area designation, protects some (59%) key watersheds, and would convert 165,000 old-growth acres and 17,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.
    * Alternative 6 (preferred) would exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule and is fully responsive to the State of Alaska’s petition. The alternative would remove all 9.2 million acres of inventoried roadless acres and would convert 165,000 old-growth acres and 20,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands. Conservation of roadless values would be achieved through other means, including the Tongass Land Management Plan. This is specific to the Tongass National Forest. The Chugach National Forest would remain under the 2001 Roadless Rule.

    The Forest Service is scheduling a series of public meetings and subsistence hearings. A list of those meeting locations will be available on the Alaska Roadless Rule project website.

    The public has until midnight Alaska time on Dec. 17, 2019, to submit comments on the documents. The documents are posted in the Federal Register and on the agency’s Alaska Roadless Rule website.

    These are the ways the public can submit written comments once the notice is published:

    Web: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=54511
    Email: akroadlessrule@fs.fed.us
    Mail: USDA Forest Service, Attn: Alaska Roadless Rule, P.O. Box 21628,
    Juneau, Alaska, 99802
    Fax: 907-586-7852
    In-person delivery to Forest Service, 709 W. 9th Street, Room 535B, Juneau, Alaska 99801

    Written comments will help inform USDA as it moves toward a final decision about an Alaska-specific roadless rule. The Secretary of Agriculture is expected to make a final decision by June 2020.

    The Tongass stretches over the 500-mile-long Southeast Alaska Panhandle and covers 80 percent of the land. It is rich in natural resources and cultural heritage. Developed areas cover about 8 percent of the land. There are 32 communities, including the state capitol of Juneau, in Southeast Alaska.

    News media inquiries should be made to the Forest Service Press Desk at PressOffice@fs.fed.us or call 202-205-1134.
    ###

    Reply
  3. Regarding who pushed this political development, it has been no secret that the AK elected officials have been staunchly against the Roadless Rile prohibitions on the Tongass NF. While those officials could not achieve success in the courts, I suspect they have been working the backroom discussions with sympathetic executive branch officials, which have now resulted in what we see today. President Trump has made his public declaration clear, but the climb to success will be steep given the judicial outcomes on this topic so far.

    Reply
  4. I agree with Tony’s forecast. A likely problem would be that the Forest Service would try to make itself look better by downplaying environmental impacts of its preferred alternative.

    One hint of that is this statement about same: “Conservation of roadless values would be achieved through other means, including the Tongass Land Management Plan.” Since the roadless decision will override the forest plan, the plan would be limited in how it could conserve roadless values, and this sounds disingenuous by suggesting that the forest plan would have much to say.

    Reply
  5. The origins of the latest attempt to scuttle the Roadless Rule on the Tongass began with a petition from the Gov to USDA, which Secy Perdue readily embraced. Trump further muddied the already turbulent water — after a brief conversation with the Gov, he instructed USDA and FS to jettison the rule. The FS has now dutifully released a DEIS proposing to so just that, without mentioning any of the overt politics. I hope the FS will at least be honest and state that NONE of the Tongass OG in roadless areas is needed to supply a nearly defunct timber industry.

    Reply

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