Action Alert

ACTION ALERT: Comment Period for the Central Tongass "Project"

The heart of the Tongass is threatened by the Central Tongass Project. Please take a stand before the September 16th deadline.

We urge you to submit written comments or testify on the CTP Draft EIS during the 45-day comment period, ending at midnight on September 16, 2019. Download the Defender’s action alert for more information and talking points.

Northern Kupreanof Island. Photo:  Colin Arisman .

Northern Kupreanof Island. Photo: Colin Arisman.

The comment period is now open on the Forest Service’s proposed Central Tongass Project (CTP) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). In truth, the project is a huge timber sale and road construction boondoggle. We ask you to submit comments requesting selection of the no-action alternative and cessation of any further planning for this destructive project.

A two part radio commentary by Alaska Rainforest Defenders aired recently on Petersburg's KFSK, located in the heart of the proposed project area, and offers additional context to this Action Alert.


If approved, the Forest Service would provide the timber industry with nearly a quarter billion board feet of primarily old-growth and some second-growth timber, on up to 13,500 acres of logging units, to be cut over the next 15 years. This devastation would occur on Mitkof, Kupreanof, Kuiu, Wrangell, Zarembo and Etolin Islands and the adjacent mainland.

The forest landscape in this part of the Tongass is already heavily fragmented, both naturally and from decades of industrial scale logging. The logging activity would include construction of about 118 miles of new logging roads, despite the project area already having almost 1,200 miles1 of poorly maintained national forest roads. In an attempt to sell this travesty to the public, the Forest Service has packaged this destructive activity with a minor amount of largely unfunded recreation improvements and watershed restoration—and have innocuously labeled it a "project" instead of a "timber sale project."


WAYS TO SUBMIT COMMENTS OR TESTIFY

Comments can be submitted by these means:

  1. Online at: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?project=53098

  2. By FAX to: (907) 772-5995

  3. By email to: commentsalaska-tongass-petersburg@fs.fed.us

Defenders File Objection to the Prince of Wales Landscape Level Analysis Project

Ancient cedar stump on Prince of Wales. Photo: Elsa Sebastian.

Ancient cedar stump on Prince of Wales. Photo: Elsa Sebastian.

Alaska Rainforest Defenders filed an objection to the POWLLA project in December 2018. You can download the Alaska Rainforest Defenders objection here, and you can also download an objection filed jointly with Earthjustice and other conservation groups.

The Defender’s are deeply concerned with the USFS’s proposed actions presented in POWLLA, which would:

  • Log 235 million board feet (MMBF) of old growth timber over the next decade: 25 MMBF annually during the first five years of implementation and 15 MMBF annually during the second five years of implementation.

  • After logging 235 MMBF Forest Service would then evaluate whether to cut the remaining old growth on the island.

  • Alternative 2 would also remove 3 MMBF of recovering, second-growth forest annually for the first seven years of the project and then escalate to 50 MMBF per year for the final eight years, for a staggering total of 421 MMBF.6

  • The agency would construct 129 miles of temporary road and 35 miles of permanent system road, adding to the economic and ecological cost of the project.

These levels of timber extraction are unreasonable, particularly in light of the damaged ecological condition of Prince of Wales. In ARD’s objection we provide more details on impacts on salmon habitat, address the impacts of clearcutting recovering second growth forests, introduced some new science on Prince of Wales wolves, and challenge the idea of the need for timber harvest on Prince of Wales.

To read more, download Alaska Rainforest Defender’s objection.

TELL THE FOREST SERVICE NOT TO EXEMPT ALASKA’S TONGASS AND CHUGACH NATIONAL FORESTS FROM THE ROADLESS RULE!

WHAT:  Trump's Forest Service and Walker's State of Alaska are pushing federal rulemaking to permanently exempt the Tongass and Chugach national forests from the Roadless Rule. This would be a "state-specific exemption" from the rule.

Alaska Rainforest Defenders urges you to send the Forest Service your comments (here) against the proposed exemption. 

Please also attend the upcoming public hearing (if there will be one) in your town (schedule here).

The website for the proposed exemption is  here.  

The Roadless Rule, enacted in the last days of the Clinton administration after a lengthy public process, prohibits road construction in "inventoried roadless areas" greater than 5,000 acres because roads "have the greatest likelihood of altering and fragmenting landscapes, resulting in immediate, long-term loss of roadless area values and characteristics.”

The Roadless Rule, enacted in the last days of the Clinton administration after a lengthy public process, prohibits road construction in "inventoried roadless areas" greater than 5,000 acres because roads "have the greatest likelihood of altering and fragmenting landscapes, resulting in immediate, long-term loss of roadless area values and characteristics.”

BACKGROUND AND WHY: The Roadless Rule was first adopted in January 2001. Since then, it has survived several court challenges, one all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined in 2016 to overrule the 9th Circuit’s decision to uphold it. One case still pending in DC District Court.

The Roadless Rule, enacted in the last days of the Clinton administration after a lengthy public process, prohibits road construction in "inventoried roadless areas" greater than 5,000 acres because roads "have the greatest likelihood of altering and fragmenting landscapes, resulting in immediate, long-term loss of roadless area values and characteristics.”

In fact, the Roadless Rule was the subject of 600 public hearings, received an avalanche of strong support of over 1 million public comments, and had the backing of hundreds of natural resource scientists[1], all of whom wanted the Tongass included in the Rule.

Importantly, despite the Rule’s prohibitions it does not block all road construction in roadless areas. For example, it allows the Forest Service to approve roads necessary for hydropower and mine development and for linking communities. In fact, “some 55 projects within roadless areas in Alaska have been rapidly approved by the Forest Service”.[2]

COMMENTS DEADLINE: The comment deadline for the proposed Tongass Exemption from the Roadless Rule is midnight, October 15, 2018.

ADDRESSES:  You can submit online here: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=54511.

.Or send by mail to:

Alaska Roadless Rule,

USDA Forest Service, Alaska Region, Ecosystem Planning and Budget Staff,

P.O. Box 21628,

Juneau, Alaska 99802-1628

Here are some points you could customize and work into your comments:

•   The Governor Walker administration is turning its back on overwhelming public sentiment, science, concerns of American taxpayers, and truly sustainable Alaska industries that rely on intact forest ecosystems.

•   The Roadless Rule protects the world-class, old-growth forest environments that fish and wildlife depend on, American people treasure and Alaskans rely on for their collective livelihoods, quality of life, and subsistence uses. A Tongass exemption from the rule is shortsighted and would undermine all those values.

•   The Walker administration is caving-in to an industry that is less than 1% of the regional economy and has already resulted in a massive, decades-long drain on the public’s financial resources. From 1982-2012 the Forest Service spent $1,193,521,560 more to log the Tongass than it received in timber revenues! Enough already for this loser industry that does great harm for minuscule benefit.

•   The Walker administration feigns concern for the impact of climate change on Alaskan communities, yet with this proposed exemption it ignores that the Tongass is North America’s largest carbon sink, and sequesters 8% of all greenhouse warming gases of national forests in the US.[3] Logging these forests will have severe long-term environmental and economic consequences.

•   The Walker administration, at great commitment and cost to the budget-strapped State of Alaska, participated in the Tongass Advisory Committee which developed a plan to transition out of old growth logging. With this proposed Roadless exemption he has unilaterally abandoned the State’s support of the TAC’s findings and has squandered those resources in order to enter into a highly controversial, Hail Mary attempt to reverse the Rule on the Tongass. After nearly two decades of upheaval, Governor Walker is forcing Alaskans to endure a seemingly perpetual controversy—all to prop up an antiquated, harmful, and tiny sector of Alaska’s economy.

•    On Sept. 6, Governor Walker  announced he will establish a 13 member Alaska Roadless Rule Citizen Advisory Committee. The committee is a farce. Only 12 days later, all but two seats have reportedly been filled.This while the Roadless Exemption Open Houses are in progress, the comment period has not even closed, and local residents are still engaged in their end-of season livelihoods. Clearly, from the get-go, the panel was largely predetermined and the Governor had no interest in selecting from a broad base of qualified candidates.

•   With this proposed exemption, the Walker Administration forces the American tax payer to further subsidize round log exports to China and elsewhere in support of their manufacturing base—not Alaska’s. In fact, the 2016 Tongass Forest Plan makes clear that the Forest Service intends to authorize the export of roughly two-thirds of the timber removed from federal forests as unprocessed logs.[4] Enactment of this proposed rule would continue the trend of managing Tongass public lands as a subsidized timber colony  for the exclusive benefit of Alcan/Transpac Group, an international raw log exporter headquartered in Vancouver B.C., and Viking Lumber of Klawock. Viking is also a large-scale raw log exporter.     

[1] See scientists letter to Congress regarding Alaska Forest Riders and the Roadless Rule. Jan. 28, 2018.

[2] Juneau Empire. Keep the Tongass wild and roadless. Dominick DellaSala, John Schoen, John Talbert. August 17, 2018.

[3] Id.

[4]  2016 LRMP FEIS at 3-492-3-493, Tables 3.22-8, 3.22-9