Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The U. S. Forest Service and the State of Alaska have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an Alaska state specific roadless rule.
Chris French, the Associate Deputy Chief of National Forest Systems at headquarters in Washington, D. C., made the announcement on KINY Radio's Action Line Thursday.
He said this will be third state specific roadless rule. Previous agreements were made in Colorado and Idaho and French said they have a resulted in long term and enduring solutions.
French said they will start the process with a blank slate. The range of possibilities he said goes all the way from keeping the status quo to a full exemption, but he added that it is likely through the public process there will be solutions in the middle that the stake holders will support.
Alaska State Forester Chris Maisch said the state will organize both an internal team and external public advisory group to work with the state to provide comment to the Forest Service.
Acting Alaska Regional Forester Dave Schmid said they hope to begin a scooping period by late this month. He said their intent is to publish a draft environmental impact statement by July of next year and then start the comment period at that time. Schmid said their goal is produce a final EIS by April of 2020 and finalize the process by June 1 of that year.
Under terms of the petition signed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue lands in Alaska that are designated Wilderness will not be impacted by this process. Otherwise, the secretary said national forests in Alaska should be working forests for all industries.
Governor Bill Walker said in a press release that he is confident that state and federal officials will be responsive to the input from local residents adn will account for the diverse needs of people who live, work, and recreate on the national lands.