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The PJ Tatler

Bridget Johnson


February 27, 2013 - 8:34 am

Alaska’s Democratic senator re-introduced legislation to repeal the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, saying the “cookie cutter” federal regulations take away local control and drive up unemployment.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), would only apply to National Forest System land in the state of Alaska, though.

“It’s past time to eliminate this cookie cutter federal regulation that is stifling the Southeast Alaska economy,” said Begich. “Southeast communities and small businesses need options to strengthen the region’s economy through responsible resource development like potential mining projects on Prince of Wales Island as well as economic timber sales.”

The rule prohibits new roads and most timber harvest in inventoried roadless areas of Alaska’s two national forests, the Tongass and the Chugach.

The senators are lobbying for greater flexibility to create a timber sale program that keeps the few existing mills alive and allows for expansion into second growth markets.

“Unemployment in the rural portions of Southeast Alaska currently averages more than 15 percent,” said Begich. “Energy costs in those communities without hydropower are too high as well. Instead of adding options, the roadless rule takes them away. The residents of Southeast Alaska don’t need more rules from Washington. They need more jobs and economic diversification.”

Last October, the roadless rule was upheld by the Supreme Court. The challenge was brought by Wyoming.

That charged the government was overstepping its bounds by essentially creating “wildness” with its restrictions on road building and timber harvesting on 45 million acres of undeveloped public lands.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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More proof that the Federal Government is incapable of learning. For decades out West they followed a no-roads and hands-off policy while at the same time fought forest fires as best they could. They ended up with monstrous fires far worse than would have occurred naturally and instead of renewing the forests damaged them. The same could easily happen in Alaska.

Unfortunately this madness is spreading around the country. Government is steadily buying up forest and farmland and creating parks that no one ever visits. Not only is this destroying local economies because the promised tourism doesn't come close to making up the lost forestry and farming, but it is setting up disasters. Without management, the forests tend to be less healthy and more prone to fires and insects. At the same time, the growing plague of feral pigs can use them as a safe zone to explode their numbers and spread out do damage other forest land.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
Our Boy Senator knows full well that the Democrat Party is chattel of the Greenies, so this legislation hasn't a snowball's chance in Hell of passing. Of course Murkowski has to sign on as co-sponsor or the little weasel will campaign against her accusing her of being a Greenie for not co-sponsoring his stupid legislation.

Some of you may recall the post the other day quoting a woman from Ketchikn, AK talking about how the mill closed and tournism turned KTN into Disneyland. That roadless rule is the reason the mill in KTN closed and the one in Sitka and most of the logging camps and sawmills in Alaska. What the communists, excuse me, Greenies started with the Spotted Owl they completed with the roadless rule: they've eliminated all logging on public lands in The West, including even in the National Forests, forests that were intended to provide the Country with a sustainable timber supply.

It is about 800 air miles up the coast from the Alaska-Canada border just south of Ketchikan to Anchorage. Other than a few enclaves of State and private land mostly right around the few towns along the way, everything you see out the starboard windows of the plane is federal land, mostly the Tongass and Chugach National Forests but also several National Parks, including the Glacier Bay National Park near Juneau, Misty Fjords NP, and others. The Greenies are constantly bleating and wailing about the little bit of logging done on Indian lands in Southeast and carry on endlessly about the "Old Growth" timber around Juneau. If you look at pictures of Juneau in the early 20th Century, there wasn't a tree in sight; they'd all been cut down for mine timbers and structural lumber as well as firewood. Trees do grow back and now there is hardly a trace of what was in its day one of the largest industrial complexes in the World, the Alaska Juneau and Treadwelll gold mines. Many of you have seen the tourism ad picture of Juneau's waterfront with the tree covered, snow capped mountains coming right down to the cruise ship docks. There are over 700 miles of tunnel inside that mountain behind the cruise ships.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
When I lived in Fairbanks I watched the local tourism industry -- essentially controlled by one family BTW -- fight against timber harvest because it would make the hillsides look ugly. I pointed out that tourism jobs typically pay poorly and the big outfits the controlling family had contracts with were all based Outside, and even overseas.

For having such a staunch union power base you'd think Fairbanks would have been able to fend off the tourism folks, but the unions there maintain their power by managing job scarcity to their political advantage.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
It is a real conflict. The tourism industry is against all development, even tourism infrastructure unless they own it. There's a whole elaborate scheme of bribes and payoffs to get your business pushed on the cruise ships. When I was still in Southeast I did a bit of whale watch and sightseeing charter work. I wouldn't play the game with the ships. I just made deals with other whale watchers to take overflow. If they sold more tickets than that had seats, if it wasn't enough to justify firing up one of their big boats, they farm them out to we who didn't have inspected boats and could only take six passengers. They were charging $125 for three hours and would pay me $100. $600 for three hours time two or three trips a day is fair money unless you break something. 'Course in '08 with marina gas at as much a $4.80/gal. you did a lot of praying that you didn't break anything because you were using 50 - 60 gallons a trip and gas was costing nearly half your gross and everybody was locked in on their fares for pre-sold trips. You can make a small fortune running a charter boat, but only if you start with a large fortune.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
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