Murkowski: Roadless rule on SE tour agenda

Senator Lisa Murkowski this week kicked off a 30-day tour of 21 Alaska communities. While in Southeast, Murkowski will accompany U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell on his first trip to the Tongass National Forest.

The Tongass five-year plan is currently being reviewed and a major issue for some seeking to do resource development in the forest is the so-called Roadless Rule. The rule limits road construction in certain areas of public land. Critics say the rule inhibits resource extraction and the creation of renewable energy projects.

Murkowski said she doesn’t think Tidwell fully understands what she believes are the adverse consequences of the Roadless Rule. She said Tidwell’s visit to the Tongass is an important one and she hopes it gives him an appreciation of the economy in Southeast.

“We will not be able to build these projects if it means that you can only do construction by helicopter,” Murkowski said. “It is possible to do, but it is not economically feasible and this is something that the chief of the Forest Service should understand.”

Murkowski said she’d like for Tidwell to see the Tongass for more than just logging when it comes to natural resources.

“I’m hopeful that what the chief will see is that when we’re talking about the Tongass, it’s not just about timber harvesting,” Murkowski said. “It’s about economic development and economic prosperity for a region that needs affordable energy and that needs jobs.”

• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at jennifer.canfield@juneauempire.com.

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