Preserve ‘roadless rule’ for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

So glad to see the recent opinion piece in The Herald on Dec. 8 (“Northwest must speak for trees, salmon in Alaska”). I join with the authors urging us to email comments to the Forest Service in support of the “No Action” alternative at akroadlessrule@fs.fed.us by Dec. 17.

In addition to providing critical salmon habitat in the Tongass National Forest, inventoried roadless areas elsewhere protect the remaining old-growth forests not logged thanks to the Tongass prohibition of new roads.

In Washington, ancient forests provide important habitat for endangered bird species like marbled murrelets that rely on the large mossy limbs, and spotted owls needing other unique features of old-growth forests. Much of what was protected as Wilderness in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s was high elevation alpine areas that, while ecologically valuable, are not the old-growth forest habitats needed by the murrelet and spotted owl that remain in our national forest roadless areas.

The present Forest Service road system is too large given the declining budgets put forward for maintenance. There are nearly 375,000 miles of Forest Service system roads which are eight times the size of the federal highway system. As fiscal conservatives said in the mid-1990s, and gave way to the current Roadless Rule, why would we put new roads in the few acres that do not now have them in our national forest system, when we cannot pay for the roads we already have?

Allen Gibbs

Mill Creek

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