US Federal court's reversal of 2011 ruling that struck down Tongass National Forest's roadless rule exemption has righted a wrong, says US Sen. Murkowski; sees previous lower court ruling as 'terrible decision' that brought suffering to forest communities

WASHINGTON , March 26, 2014 (press release) – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today welcomed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision reversing a lower court ruling from 2011 that invalidated the Tongass National Forest’s exemption from the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

“Striking down the Tongass’ exemption to the roadless rule was a terrible decision when it was made more than two years ago,” Murkowski said. “The people of Southeast Alaska knew it, and so did the state, which is why they acted so quickly to file an appeal to that decision. I applaud the Ninth Circuit for righting that wrong today.”

The Ninth Circuit reversed the decision of the district court, which had reinstated restrictions imposed in 2001 on unroaded areas of the 17 million acre national forest. In 2003, then Gov. Frank Murkowski’s administration negotiated an exemption to the roadless rule for the Tongass to settle an Alaska lawsuit challenging the nationwide rule.

“The 2011 ruling by the district court has already done its damage to the people in Southeast Alaska, who rely on the Tongass to help them put food on their tables,” Murkowski said. “The economy in those communities has suffered greatly since that ruling, so today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit is a welcome one. It’s just too bad it had to get to this point in the first place.”

Murkowski is Alaska’s senior senator and the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

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