Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy on social media Wednesday said people in Alaska “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.”
The dispute goes back more than two decades.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in revisiting the issue, cited a directive from President Joe Biden at the start of his term to review and address rules enacted under Trump that might conflict with environmental and climate aims laid out by Biden.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement called the Tongass "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.”
Conservation groups and southeast Alaska tribal leaders applauded the change.
Joel Jackson, president of the Organized Village of Kake, said in a statement: “We are tied to our lands that our ancestors walked on thousands of years ago. We walk these same lands and the land still provides food security — deer, moose, salmon, berries, our medicines. The old-growth timber plays an important part in keeping all these things coming back year after year; it’s our supermarket year around. And it’s a spiritual place where we go to ground ourselves from time to time.”