The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly will consider opposing a lawsuit seeking to reinstate the Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest.
The Trump administration’s Tongass exemption opens up approximately 9.4 million acres of federal forest land to potential road building and other development. A legal challenge seeking to overturn the exemption was filed by Southeast Alaska tribes and conservation groups late last year.
The Ketchikan City Council recently voted 6-1 to spend up to $5,000 to intervene on the federal government’s behalf. Elected officials in Wrangell recently considered a similar request but decided not to intervene.
In other business, the Ketchikan borough assembly will consider taking over operation of the entire Rainbird Trail located above the Third Avenue Bypass. The University of Alaska Southeast requested transfer of maintenance responsibilities for the portions located on UAS lands to the borough. The borough’s portion of the trail has been closed since a landslide last fall. The trail is popular with residents and cruise ship passengers. If approved, trail maintenance and repair would be included in the 5-Year Capital Improvement Program. Work would occur in phases with a proposed budget of $100,000 in the first year, and $150,000 annually for two more years after that. Most of the funding could come from grants and head tax paid by cruise passengers.
The Ketchikan borough assembly is also slated to hear two reports. Rep. Dan Ortiz is scheduled to provide a legislative update. The Borough Auditor will deliver the Annual Report on the local government’s finances for the fiscal year ending June 2020.
The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Ketchikan Borough Assembly Chambers at the White Cliff Building. It is also live streamed on the borough website and available on local cable channels. Public comment will be heard at the beginning of the meeting.