Begich Calls for Update of Tongass Roadless Area Maps
October 12, 2011
Given the economic distress throughout much of Southeast Alaska, this common sense action of updating the maps would mitigate to some degree the negative effects of the Roadless Rule on the timber industry and communities in Southeast Alaska, said Begich.
The maps are more than a decade old and don’t reflect the situation on the ground. Begich said in the letter, "Significant road construction has occurred in the decade after the adoption of the inventoried roadless area maps, and without an update, the result is a somewhat illogical situation wherein areas of the Tongass which are actually roaded are considered roadless."
“Beyond semantics, the use of outdated maps to define inventoried roadless areas in the Tongass discourages reasonable development and limits the ability of the U.S. Forest Service to propose economic timber sales,” Begich writes.
Begich said if the inventoried roadless area maps were updated, a number of current projects would benefit, including the Tonka Timber Sale, Wrangell Island Project and Big Thorne Project. All contain "roaded roadless" areas which have been developed since the effective date of the Rule, wrote Begich.
"The situation also affects more than the forest products industry. The Southeast Alaska Power Agency had to seek approval from Secretary Vilsack for transmission line maintenance due to outdated roadless maps," wrote Begich.
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Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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