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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

October 1, 2003

New Report Uncovers Millions In Taxpayer Losses From Wasteful Timber Program

Public Footing the Bill for Alaska Rainforest Logging

WASHINGTON Just as the Bush administration is considering opening up Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to increased road-building and logging, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council released a report today showing $35 million annually in taxpayer losses from logging the Tongass Rainforest.

The report, "Taxpayer Losses and Missed Opportunities: How Tongass Rainforest Logging Costs Taxpayers Millions," documents the U.S. Forest Service losing millions of dollars annually underwriting expensive road-building projects in the Tongass National Forest while allowing timber companies to haul away lumber at cheap prices.

"The Tongass is the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest -- it is time for the Bush administration to stop spending millions of taxpayer dollars a year so that the timber industry can log and build roads in this national treasure," said Tiernan Sittenfeld, Conservation Advocate, U.S. PIRG.

In June, the Bush administration proposed exempting the entire state of Alaska from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule -- clearing the way for nearly 50 timber sales. The Forest Service received more than 300,000 comments from the public, major businesses and members of congress rejecting the administration’s proposal. To date the Forest Service has received 2.5 million public comments on the roadless rule -- 95% in favor of strong roadless protection.

"Not only is the Bush administration ignoring the resounding public support for protecting America’s largest rainforest, they are running up a taxpayer tab to pay for logging it," said Robert Vandermark, Co-Director, Heritage Forests Campaign. "Every year more money is made from Americans visiting their national forests, than from letting timber companies log them. The administration’s forest policy clearly loses dollars and it makes no sense."

America's national forests are already covered with 383,000 miles of roads -- enough to circle the earth 17 times. A 2002 report by Taxpayers for Common Sense revealed that nationally there is a backlog of road repairs that amounts to more than $8.4 billion. Sixteen states including Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon, and Michigan have a backlog of road repairs amounting to more than $100 million.

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Contact: Tony Iallonardo, NET
(202) 887-8855

The Heritage Forests Campaign is an alliance of conservationists, wildlife advocates, clergy, educators, scientists, and other Americans who are working together to uphold protection of our National Forests.

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