I’m working on getting a subscription to Bloomberg Law for TSW so all I could get was this snippet.
Permanent roadless area protection is vital to preserving drinking water supplies, cutting wildfire risk, and saving Alaska’s oldest forests, Democrats said during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.
Debate centered on a bill (H.R. 279) that would codify an existing US Forest Service rule prohibiting road building across swaths of national forests nationwide—Democrats’ backlash to a Trump administration decision to lift roadless protections in Alaska. That decisions allowed logging or development across 9.3 million acres of southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.
Perhaps someone could post the rest of the story? I happen to have spent a great deal of time working on Roadless here in Colorado, and my experience tells me that the relationship between cutting wildfire risk and roadless is fairly complex. In fact, that’s why after years of laborious work and public involvement, the Colorado Rule deals specifically with hazardous fuel treatments (because, yes, roadless areas can be close to communities and occur in wildfire-prone areas). From the Key Elements summary of the final Rule allowed temp roads and specified that hazardous fuel treatments were allowed (otherwise you had to argue about uncharacteristic-ness):
Community Wildfire Protection
• Provides for hazardous fuel treatment by allowing tree cutting and temporary road construction in a defined area of ½ mile from the boundary of an at-risk community, called a community protection zone (CPZ) in the final Rule.
• If specific ground conditions are met, and a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is in place, that boundary may be extended to 1 ½ miles, but temporary roads are prohibited in this additional mile.
Now the Colorado Roadless Rule was signed under the administrations of Governor Hickenlooper (of Colorado, currently Senator) and President Obama. So it’s interesting that current House Dems would say that codifying the 2001 Rule is vital to “cutting wildfire risk.” It may sound plausible but it’s not actually true.
Yes, perhaps the bill is performative virtue-signalling to certain groups and will never get anywhere, but I think it’s important to query the ideas behind it and the marketing thereof.