Over 200 Southeast Alaskan fishermen have signed a letter to the Trump Administration opposing the push to exempt the Tongass National Forest from a roadless rule in place for over a decade.

It would make Alaska the only state that doesn’t have to follow the federal law.

The new rules would release more than 9 million acres from protection and open nearly 200,000 acres to logging.

Fisherman Eric Jordan of Sitka was highly critical of the move that happened after a meeting with Governor Dunleavy and Donald Trump.  Shortly after, the US Forest Service began work on new rules.

“Their record is one of irresponsible top down management without listening to their constituents.”

Fishing is the backbone of local economies, fishermen said, and it relies on intact watersheds and salmon spawning grounds in the Tongass, which produces 80% of the salmon caught in the Southeast region.

Their letter, spearheaded by the Sitka Conservation Society and Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, requests that the Forest Service protect fish habitat, complete hundreds of restoration projects already underway, and phase out industrial-scale clearcutting.

The roadless roll back is strongly supported by Alaska’s congressional delegation citing the need for jobs.

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Eric Jordan says opposing communities and groups are meeting throughout Southeast to make sure their voices are heard.

“I tell you what is happening. People are taking notice of the draconian policies of this state and Trump’s leadership and there’s going to be consequences at the polls and in the courts. There will not be logging activities that they’re envisioning, because we’re going to tie it up in courts and demonstrations forever.

The Forest Service is taking public comments on the Tongass roadless exemption through December 17.

Email: akroadlessrule@fs.fed.us