Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski this week is touring several communities in southern Southeast Alaska with the chief of the U.S. Forest Service.
Alaska’s senior U.S. senator meets up with chief Tom Tidwell on Thursday, August 8 and said the two will spend Thursday and Friday visiting Wrangell, Ketchikan and Prince of Wales Island. “We’ll be looking at some of the sites that have been harvested some decades ago, look at this transition to second growth and how, within the Tongass we’ve seen good examples and perhaps some not so good examples,” Murkowski said during a stop in Petersburg. “We’ll be visiting some of the local sawmills. We will have an opportunity to fly over some of the areas where there’s great hydro potential and also potential for mineral development with Niblack and Bokan on Prince of Wales.” Those two mining developments are targeting precious metals and rare earth elements at sites on southern Prince of Wales.
Murkowski says she hopes to educate Tidwell on the economics of small Southeast communities. “When we’re looking at the Tongass and the impact of the roadless rule on the Tongass National Forest, it’s important to appreciate that this isn’t just about how you harvest timber, this is about the economics of a region. Because if we can’t provide for affordable energy within our Southeastern communities, whether it’s Kake or Angoon or other points in between, again you cant have an economy there.”
The roadless rule prohibits logging and new road building on some 58 million acres of undeveloped nation forest land across the U.S. It does allow clearing trees for electrical transmission lines and also allows construction of new roads paid for with federal highway money. A judge also ruled that specific mining and hydro-electric power plant projects on the Tongass could proceed even with the rule in place.
Murkowski stopped in Petersburg Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Wrangell. She also made stops this week in Sitka, Angoon and Kake.