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Parnell Urges Retention of Roadless Exemption

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 09-073

Governor Urges Retention of Roadless Rule Exemption,
Asks for Limit On New or Additional Wilderness in Alaska


November 6, 2009, Anchorage, Alaska – Recognizing the use of federal land is critical to responsible development in Alaska, Governor Parnell has urged the two multiple-use land management agencies in Alaska, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to limit restrictions.

In a letter to Jay Jensen, deputy under secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Governor Parnell called on the federal government to implement the 2008 Tongass Land Management Plan. The governor also renewed his request that the exemption for the Tongass National Forest from the roadless rule be maintained and formalized in regulation.

“Revoking the Tongass exemption would likely wipe out the few remaining timber jobs and small businesses,” Governor Parnell said. “Communities and families in the area have already been devastated by the loss of timber industry jobs. Where thousands of timber jobs once existed, now only a few hundred remain. Losing the exemption would be harmful to Southeast Alaskans.”

The administration understands that the BLM might consider adding a wilderness study to resource management plans prepared for BLM lands in Alaska, an issue addressed in the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). In passing ANILCA, Congress intended to settle the issue of conservation designations.

In a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Parnell explained the state’s opposition to the wilderness study.

“Wilderness designations tie the hands of managers, making it more difficult to support the continuation of activities that are protected by ANILCA. For example, ANILCA provides for motorized access necessary for subsistence purposes, but a wilderness overlay could pressure managers to unnecessarily curtail that access.

“The State of Alaska will strongly oppose formal wilderness studies, wilderness suitability inventories, or other interim products normally developed to support wilderness recommendations.”

Copies of the letters to Secretary Salazar and Deputy Under Secretary Jensen are available at:

http://www.gov.state.ak.us/pdf/TongassJensenLetter_Oct30-2009.pdf

http://www.gov.state.ak.us/pdf/SalazarLetter_Oct29-2009.pdf


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