The U.S. Forest Service released a summary of public comments on changes to the Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest. The takeaway is that the majority of the comments are in favor of leaving the rule in place in Alaska, which limits most road building in wilder parts of the forest.
Over 140,000 people submitted an opinion on the controversial topic. Back in August, the Forest Service said it would consider the state’s ask for an exemption that would make it easier to build new roads through the federal land.
It was prompted by a decades-long battle over access to timber and mining.
But the themes expressed in most of the comments suggest the Tongass is more valuable without the addition of new roads. People mentioned the tourism and fishing industries as examples of business that could be negatively impacted.
Though the consensus was to essentially do nothing, the Forest Service is still working on plans to create an Alaska-specific rule.
The agency plans to release a draft environmental impact statement that the public can comment on this summer.
Alaska has a lot going on right now.
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- The Alaska Department of Revenue forecasts $187.3 million less in state revenue this year than it did in the spring. The department released the forecast on Friday.
- In an unprecedented response to historically low numbers of Pacific cod, the federal cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska is closing for the 2020 season.
- Anchorage natural gas company ENSTAR is asking state regulators to allow it to bill its customers to recover $1 million in costs from last year's major earthquake.
- “We know many, many people are going to lose benefits because of this,” says Cara Durr with the Food Bank of Alaska.