Showing his disdain for both the will of the people as well as sound science, the Bush administration last week put the final nail in the coffin of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
Rather than listen to the millions of Americans or hundreds of scientists who participated in the creation of the rule, the administration has unveiled a state petition process designed to restrict our ability to protect our remaining wild landscapes.
These intact areas are the source of our pristine drinking water, nurture our world-renowned salmon, and provide internationally famous recreation opportunities. They are the key to our economic future.
Southeast Alaskans have repeatedly called for more protection, not less, for the awe-inspiring landscape we call home. During the Forest Service's Wildlands Hearings in 2001, 86 percent of Southeast Alaskans who commented wanted more protection for the Tongass National Forest.
Rather than listen to the people of Southeast Alaska, the Bush administration remains committed to the failed economic policies of the past. Instead of looking to the future, they are chaining us to the past, restricting our ability to grow and prosper by putting the interests of big timber over economic sense and the will of the people.
The Forest Service already has more than 50 timber sales planned for roadless areas in Southeast Alaska. These will cost us taxpayers close to $1 billion over the next 10 years. Previously, it took the Forest Service 20 years to lose this much of our money.
Places like Port Houghton, the Cleveland Peninsula, Gravina Island, and East Kuiu could be sacrificed for short-term gain, leaving Southeast Alaska with nothing but stumps, muddied watersheds, and one gigantic bill.
These are the areas that Alaskans from across the political spectrum have used for generations. They are the places where people's grandfathers hunted, where folks taught their kids to fish, where we were going to take our grandkids berry picking. Because of this decision, these wild lands could be stolen from us and future generations. Thanks, George.
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