Opinion: Phony Forest Service Process

Opinion: Phony Forest Service Process

The decision was already made before the “Roadless Rule Process” even started.

The onslaught against our nation’s public lands and the environment had reached my town and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. The Forest Service presentation and “process” in Ketchikan did not give citizens a choice or a voice on whether to uphold existing law. No comments made during this public hearing would be considered and the “citizens advisory group” had already been picked by the very people who initiated this latest attack on our public lands.

And besides, the Trump-appointed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue would make the final decision regardless of what the people said or wrote in the very short comment period allowed for this “process.”

In 2001 after more than a hundred years of unchecked destructive logging on public lands and following a long and all-inclusive process, Congress passed the Roadless Area Conservation law (36 CFR Part 294) preventing further carnage by halting road building on one-third of all National Forest Lands. According to the US Forest Service, “The intent of 2001 Roadless Rule is to provide lasting protection within the National Forest System in the context of multiple-use management.”

As stated in 36 CFR Part 194; “Although the inventoried roadless areas comprise only 2% of the land base in the continental United States, they are found within 661 of the over 2,000 major watersheds in the nation and provide many social and ecological benefits.” “Additionally, the size of the existing forest road system and attendant budget constraints present the agency from managing the road system to the safety and environmental standards to which it was built.”

So not only did the 2001 Roadless Rule save some of the last remaining old-growth forests and salmon spawning streams for future generations to enjoy, it saved the tax payers untold millions of dollars.

Private logging on public lands is not only environmentally destructive, it costs the taxpayers money. A lot of money. And while this may have made some sense in our frontier past as a means to stimulate the economy by providing American sawmills and manufacturing facilities timber, that era has come and gone. The vast majority of the timber being cut now is exported as raw “round” logs with no “value added” gain.

The economy of Southeast Alaska is always changing and we need to change with it. The timber industry is now but a tiny fraction of our economy while the visitor industry is rapidly growing. They are coming here to fish, to recreate and to enjoy wild scenery no longer available in most of the world. They are not coming here to see clear cut stump lands.

What the Forest Service, politicians and their big donor puppeteers are pushing down our throats is nothing short of criminal. They are robbing us and future generations of our money and our lands while endangering our economy.

They are demanding that We The People use our tax dollars to pay private logging firms to clear cut public lands so that the Asian manufacturing base has access to raw “round” logs. Oh, and then we get to pay for the environmental mess they they leave behind.

Basically we are funding foreign industry with U.S. tax dollars. We export round logs and import finished products, paying whatever tariffs Trump imposes on us and are expected to docilely accept this decent into Third World status without question or comment. This is utter madness.

Rather taking a Great Leap Backwards why not look North To The Future?

If it’s jobs that they are so concerned about and that we are expected to subsidize, then why not use our tax dollars to pay the logging folks to clean up the “slash” and wasted timber from previous logging? Additionally they could maintain or remove existing logging roads, replant then thin the forests as they recover. There is more than enough logged out lands in Southeast Alaska to keep them employed for decades.

You still have a chance to comment on this Roadless Ruling “Process.” Please take a few minutes and visit the Forest Service web site and do so. Help protect your public lands from private and foreign exploitation.


Norbert Chaudhary resides in Ketchikan. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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