Wilderness has value — Tongass National Forest

By JIM DIPESO, REP Policy Director

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: letter to the editor, Juneau (AK) Empire, August 15, 2002


Incredible. At a time when the federal budget is back in deficit and the government is piling up more debt for our children, the U.S. Forest Service wants to dig the hole deeper in the Tongass National Forest.

The Forest Service’s preferred management plan for the Tongass would open the door to timber roads and sales in wild areas of the forest that are currently unroaded. Timber roads and sales are money pits. In Alaska alone, the Forest Service has a timber roads maintenance backlog exceeding $800 million. Timber sales planned inTongass roadless areas over the next five years would lose nearly $100 million.

The Forest Service seems incapable of fiscal responsibility. The only sure way to protect the taxpayers from the Forest Service’s Tongass follies is to add more wilderness areas, where timber boondoggles are prohibited by federal law.

Wilderness is the taxpayers’ best friend. If the Bush administration were as fiscally conservative as it claims to be, it would push for more wilderness areas, in the Tongass and other national forests everywhere in the United States.