Resource Development Council

State intervenes in Roadless Rule lawsuit

In response to lawsuits filed in federal court that again threaten the Southeast Alaska timber industry, Governor Sean Parnell directed Attorney General Dan Sullivan to file motions for intervention in those cases to uphold the state’s interests and to protect the region’s economy.

The State of Alaska has sought intervenor status in two cases: To uphold Alaska’s exemption in the Tongass National Forest from the Forest Service’s “Roadless Rule,” and to support the Forest Service’s authority to proceed with the overall Logjam timber sale and the pending Diesel timber sale.

“Our timber jobs are at stake; we have many businesses and families that depend upon timber in the Tongass,” Governor Parnell said. “We’ll use every tool at our disposal to make sure that the exemption from the roadless rule remains in place and that the Diesel sale can proceed.”

The Forest Service acted within its authority and discretion, said Attorney General Sullivan. “The Tongass exemption came as the result of a settlement agreement with the state, after the state had filed a complaint that the roadless rule violates federal statutes pertaining to Alaska, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act,” said Sullivan. “If the exemption is repealed or permanently enjoined, the state might have to renew its challenge to the roadless rule itself. It’s about the future of the commercial timber harvest in the Tongass.”

While the current forest plan leaves 2.4 million acres in backcountry areas open to logging, only 663,000 acres would actually be scheduled for harvest over the next 100 years, and half of that acreage is second-growth timber cut decades ago. The 663,000 acres represents only 12 percent of the commercial timberlands. 200 years from now, 83 percent of the current old-growth would remain intact in the forest.

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