The Tongass National Forest
America's Last Great Rainforest
The Tongass National Forest in Alaska is one of America's greatest natural treasuresa coastal rainforest with centuries-old trees providing critical habitat for wolves, bears, salmon, bald eagles and other wildlife. Stretching over 17 million acres, the Tongass is by far our largest national forest and the world's largest remaining intact coastal rainforest. This remote rainforest of ancient trees covers an island landscape marked by narrow inlets and glacier-carved fiords.
But the natural beauty and abundant wildlife of the Tongass have long been threatened by harmful clearcut logging. More than half of the big-tree, old-growth forest in the Tongasswhich represents the biological heart of the rainforest and provides significant cultural and economic value to the people and communities of Southeast Alaskahas been systematically compromised over the past six decades through clearcut logging and associated industrial development including the construction of more than 5,000 miles of logging roads.
The 2001 Roadless Rule is critical because it includes protection the 9.3 million acres of pristine, unroaded wild lands which remain in the Tongass. Unfortunately, in 2003 the Bush Administration placed the Tongass under a "temporary exemption" from the protections of the Roadless Rule making the Tongass the only national forest in the country where commercial logging is allowed in roadless areas.
Forest Service Continues to Ask Taxpayers to Pay to Clearcut Roadless Areas in America's Rainforest
On April 30, 2007, the Forest Service closed a public comment period on its draft plan for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. The proposed plan is the latest step in a court-ordered revision of the 1997 Tongass Land Management Plan. The revision was ordered more than a year ago by a federal court which concluded the 1997 plan violated the law.
The Forest Service's "proposed action" alternative in the draft plan leaves open to logging the majority of roadless areas containing old-growth forest. With the draft plan's bias toward logging, the Bush administration is clinging to a bygone era and continuing to hold Tongass roadless areas in trust for the timber industry at taxpayers' expense. Since 1982, the American taxpayer has lost over $1 billion on the Tongass Timber program an average loss of $40 million per year.
The level of logging targeted by the Forest Service in their "proposed action" alternative is projected at five times what southeast Alaska's independent sawmills have logged annually in the past 15 years. If the Forest Service sticks to its proposed logging schedule, over the next decade America's taxpayers could expect to continue to lose tens of millions of dollars each yeara hefty price tag for logging America's Rainforest.
For additional information contact:
Alaska Wilderness League
122 C Street, NW, Suite 240
Washington, DC 20001,br> (202)544-5205