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USFS approves 2 projects in roadless areas

Posted: August 1, 2011 - 9:39pm

U.S. Forest Service Alaska Regional Forester Beth Pendleton has announced the approval of two mining exploration projects in inventoried roadless areas on Prince of Wales Island and Woewodski Island.

“Last Friday USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman approved exploration in inventoried roadless areas for both the Woewodski and Bokan Mountain mining exploration projects,” Pendleton stated in a release. “This approval will allow the companies conducting the exploration to create helicopter landing pads at drilling sites, and in the case of Woewodski, allow drilling equipment to be winched from some of its sites.”

“In each case, no roads will be constructed or reconstructed and site reclamation will be completed after drilling operations are done. Both projects will create new mining jobs in Southeast Alaska,” she said.

A point of clarification in this development concerns the Roadless Rule. A federal judge reinstated the rule in the Tongass earlier this year.

Forest Service Spokesman Ray Massey said the rule doesn’t automatically disqualify development in inventoried roadless areas. He said the secretary of Agriculture has approval of projects like roads or timber in such areas. The secretary can also re-delegate this approval.

In this case, Secretary Tom Vilsack re-delegated the projects to Under Secretary Harris Sherman, who approved them.

The state is currently pursuing an appeal of the Roadless Rule’s reinstatement.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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