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PNS Daily News - December 16, 2019 


Sen. Chuck Schumer calls for four specific witnesses in Senate impeachment trial; giving Iowans with disabilities a voice in caucuses; and an expert says Seasonal Affective Disorder is a lot more than just the holiday blues.

2020Talks - December 16, 2019 


Sen. Cory Booker led the charge asking the DNC to ease up debate qualification requirements. All seven candidates who made the cut for Thursday's debate say they won't participate in the debate at Loyola Marymount in LA if it means crossing the picket line of Unite Here Local 11.

'Roadless Rule' Sees New Threats to Keeping Wild Places Wild

The intent of the 2001 Roadless Rule has been to provide lasting protection for inventoried roadless areas within the National Forest system, including several forests in Florida. (Pixabay)
The intent of the 2001 Roadless Rule has been to provide lasting protection for inventoried roadless areas within the National Forest system, including several forests in Florida. (Pixabay)
November 13, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Trump administration wants to reverse a nearly two-decade rule in order to allow more logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest - and it's the same rule that protects national forests in Florida.

Alaska's struggling timber industry hopes to revive large-scale industrial logging known for damaging animal habitat and salmon streams. Lexi Hackett, who runs a family fishing operation in southeastern Alaska, is among 200 fishers warning the administration about the threat to their livelihood and the environment if protections from road-building and other development are removed.

"There's no good reason to roll back the Roadless Rule at this point," she said. "It's very confusing that this is even on the chopping block. People just say, 'Development, development, development, more jobs,' and people think it's that simple - but it's not."

The Roadless Rule, which covers some 60 million acres in 40 states and territories, applies to parts of Florida's Apalachicola, Ocala and Osceola national forests. When it was being debated in 2001, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission saw the rule as resulting in positive benefits for native wildlife and plants in the state.

Some have complained that the roadless rule has choked economic growth. However, Mike Dombeck, who served as U.S. Forest Service chief when the Roadless Rule was first proposed, said he thinks the current administration should focus its energy on boosting the recreation and tourism industries that make up 26% of the economy and jobs in that part of Alaska.

"So that, compared to the 1% of the timber industry, really should tell us that the future of the Tongass National Forest is really about recreation, tourism, clean water, and keeping wild places wild," he said.

Tribal organizations and others opposed to the rollback will testify today before a House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. A public hearing on rescinding the Roadless Rule for the Tongass is set for Thursday, also in Washington, and public comments are being taken until Dec. 17.

The public-hearing schedule is online at fs.usda.gov, the Roadless Rule is at fs.fed.us, and information on the subcommittee hearing is at naturalresources.house.gov. Public comments can be made at usda.gov.

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Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL