SEACC’s former Executive Director Bart Koehler sings his testimony to oppose the U.S. Forest Service’s lifting of the Roadless Rule as stenographer Lynda Barker records are Northern Light United Church on Dec. 16, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

SEACC’s former Executive Director Bart Koehler sings his testimony to oppose the U.S. Forest Service’s lifting of the Roadless Rule as stenographer Lynda Barker records are Northern Light United Church on Dec. 16, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

SEACC makes one last push for Roadless Rule

Final public meeting before public comment deadline

As the public comment period for the Alaska specific Roadless Rule comes to an end, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council held one last meeting to rally support for keeping the rule in place in the Tongass National Forest.

“I was standing in the Tongass, what did I see,” sang Bart Koehler, former executive director of SEACC, who played guitar and sang his comment. “A forest full of giants running to the sea…keep those logging roads away.”

SEACC hired a stenographer to record people’s spoken comments to submit them in writing to the U.S. Forest Service. One of the reasons they chose to do this, according to SEACC’s Tongass program manager Dan Cannon, was because comments from the public were not recorded at an earlier Forest Service meeting on the alternatives.

At that Nov. 5 meeting, the Forest Service answered questions and presented information on the proposed alternatives but did not take public comment. Several members of the public at that meeting were upset their spoken comments were not recorded for the record.

Members of the public took turns Monday night, some reading prepared comments, others speaking off the cuff, speaking before a crowd while the stenographer took down their speeches.

“I’ve lived in Juneau for over 50 years,” said Philip Gray, a retired Alaska Department of Fish and Game worker. “I spent a lot of time on the ground in unlogged areas, I’ve also spent a lot of time in areas that have been pretty heavily logged.”

Commercial fisherman in one of those logged areas had called Fish and Game because of the amount of mud that was flowing into streams and the ocean, harming the fishing in those areas.

“It looked like it had been bombed,” Gray said.

On Oct. 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal executive office responsible for forestry as well as agriculture, announced it would be looking at six alternatives to the rule that prohibits road construction or reconstruction and timber harvest on 58.5 million acres of National Forest System lands.

The preferred alternative listed by the USDA is Alternative 6, which would lift the rule entirely in the Tongass. Proponents of lifting the rule say it’s not just about the timber industry.

Robert Venables, executive director of Southeast Conference, told a Congressional subcommittee that the Roadless Rule shouldn’t be viewed only through the lens of timber. In prohibiting road construction, the rule makes it very difficult for critical infrastructure projects that help many of the rural communities in the Tongass.

”It’s about forest management,” Venebles told the subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands under the House Natural Resources Committee on Nov. 13. “It’s about access to resources that local communities, the state and the nation need.”

But SEACC executive director Meredith Trainor said the people of Southeast Alaska have spoken loud and clear, and they want the Roadless Rule to remain in place on the Tongass.

“The Roadless Rule is specifically about new timber roads,” Trainor said. “We know there have been 57 exceptions made to allow for projects like electrical utilities.”

Trainor said she hopes USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue listens to the people of Southeast Alaska when making his decision.

“Political leadership is about making hard decisions that are important in the long run, and I’d like to think Secretary Purdue is an independent thinker,” she said.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read