December 23, 2020
U.S. Forest Service officials should not have approved a modified $2 million grant to be used for the state’s push to lift the controversial Roadless Rule from the Tongass National Forest, according to an Inspector General report published Dec. 18.
The report concludes that the process used by the Forest Service to give the state the money and the ultimate use of the funds both ran afoul of federal laws and regulations.
The $2 million was first provided to the state via the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act but state Department of Natural Resources officials requested the grant be modified to allow the state to spend the money to participate in the Roadless Rule determination. Forest Service officials approved the funding change in August 2018 because they said, according to the report, that they needed to act quickly so the state could use the money to advance its work on a state-specific Roadless Rule.
The Roadless grant funds were approved on top of $3 million requested earlier under a state fire assistance grant, according to records provided by the state.