For over a year Hoonah Indian Association has been working with five Southeast Tribes as “Cooperating Agencies” to inform the U.S. Forest Service on the Roadless Rulemaking process. On October 15th, 2019 the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommended that roadless protections be removed from the entire Tongass National Forest – 9.2. million acres of roadless area. This recommendation is in direct conflict with the positions of each of the participating Tribes which recommended minimum or no changes to the 2001 Roadless Rule. All Cooperating Agency Tribes felt those protections were necessary to protect the resources our communities depend on and lands of the Tongass. In a unified voice, all of the have expressed dismay that their role as Cooperating Agencies has been disregarded. The following statements were submitted to Secretary Perdue and as a press release condemning what has become a political process rather than one driven by Cooperating agencies, stakeholders, and constituents.
Response to Secretary Perdue
Key Statement :
We are profoundly disappointed with the manner the roadless rule process been handled, especially as regards the federally recognized tribes that involved themselves as “cooperating agencies”. It is our opinion that the lead agency has not honored their responsibility to cooperating agencies. Specifically, we point to two sections of the main steps of the NEPA process (40 CFR § 1501.6 – Cooperating agencies. § 1501.6 Cooperating agencies) which we do not feel have been met:
- “(2) Use the environmental analysis and proposals of cooperating agencies with jurisdiction by law or special expertise, to the maximum extent possible consistent with its responsibility as lead agency.”
- “(3) Meet with a cooperating agency at the latter’s request.”
Press Release Condemning Process
Key Statement :
“It’s absolutely critical that we be at the table instead of on the menu” stated Richard Peterson, President of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA). Throughout the process Tribal leaders have felt their roles and responsibilities as “cooperating agencies” have been undermined by a politically motivated, expedited timeline to be finished by June 2020, even though all of the Tribal representatives repeatedly requested extensions in writing, at meetings, and during teleconferences with the United States Forest Service.Tribal CA Press Release 2019
HIA Position During First Public Comment Period
Key Statement :
Hoonah Indian Association acknowledges the need to support Southeast Alaska’s timber
industry – we are not anti-logging. Locally, Icy Straits Lumber keeps our community members
employed in meaningful work. However, we believe broadly opening the opportunity for timber
extraction in Alternatives 4 and 6 greatly increase the likelihood of exploitation of valuable old
growth areas. Our concerns are not readily met in the Alternatives outlined in the DEIS. We
would like to see an Alternative which better compromises between removal of Roadless at a
scale representative of local concerns. Adopting a watershed scale approach to removal of
roadless areas would enable alternatives to be more specific and tailored to communities.
Based on our concerns about methodology and assumptions outlined above, we advocate for
Alternative 2 as it is the only one aligns with our concerns while providing new opportunities
for timber on our existing road system.