People in Ketchikan will have a chance to quiz U.S. Forest Service officials about a proposal to roll back the federal Roadless Rule at a public meeting Tuesday night. But officials will not hear public comments at the meeting. All comments must be submitted in writing, either online or by mail.

The Roadless Rule generally prohibits new road construction in parts of the national forest. 

Alaska’s congressional delegation and state government has pushed for a full exemption for the Tongass National Forest. 

In mid-October, the Forest Service announced it would seek a full exemption for the Tongass. Proponents say that would bolster the state’s long-struggling timber industry and other resource industries. Opponents say it would allow logging in ecologically sensitive areas and damage animal and fish habitat.

Forest Service representatives are slated to give a presentation on the proposed rollback of the rule and discuss the draft environmental impact statement released last month. 

There will be a question-and-answer period after the presentation, but the Forest Service says it won’t officially take comments about the Roadless Rule at the meeting. Comments must either be mailed or submitted online.

But residents concerned about the Roadless Rule rollback’s effect on subsistence will have a chance to make comments at a subsistence-focused hearing after the public meeting.

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center in downtown Ketchikan.

The Forest Service will also hold meetings in several Prince of Wales Island communities. On Wednesday, officials have scheduled a similar meeting and subsistence hearing for 5 p.m. at Craig’s Tribal Association Hall. 

There will be Roadless Rule meetings in Kasaan, Thorne Bay and Hydaburg next week.

If you’d like to make a comment on the proposed rollback of the Roadless Rule, you can do so at the Forest Service’s website. You can also mail hard copies to the following address: 

Alaska Roadless Rule, USDA Forest Service, Alaska Region, Ecosystem Planning and Budget Staff, P.O. Box 21628, Juneau, Alaska 99802-1628

Here’s the full Roadless Rule public meeting schedule for KRBD’s listening area:

Ketchikan: 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5 at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, 50 Main St.

Craig: 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6 at Craig Tribal Association Hall, 1330 Craig-Klawock Highway

Hydaburg: 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12 at Hydaburg City Hall, 101 8th St. Extension

Kasaan: 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12 at Totem Trail Café, 4th and Young St.

Thorne Bay: 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 at the Forest Service’s Thorne Bay Ranger District office, 1312 Federal Way