March 7, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 10

Begich pushes roadless repeal in Senate

Senator Mark Begich has once again introduced legislation to repeal the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

“It’s past time to eliminate this cookie cutter federal regulation that is stifling the Southeast Alaska economy,” Senator Begich said last week. “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.”

Begich also added that roadways would be a path to greater economic and energy development.

“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.”

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

With most of Alaska’s federal forest lands already off limits to harvest, Begich has previously worked on legislation for the Forest Service to have greater flexibility in crafting a reasonably sized timber sale program – one that keeps the few existing mills alive and allows for expansion into second growth markets.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined Sen. Begich by co-sponsoring the legislation.

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