The reprinting of the Ketchikan Daily News' editorial (Tongass Ruling Will Cost Taxpayers) in your newspaper not only lacks originality, but is also flat out misleading. Instead of presenting the utterances of Frank Murkowski (whose blind support of corporate logging interests is legendary) as the gospel truth, your readers would be better served if you actually did some original research and at least made an attempt at objectivity.
The truth is that the closing of the the pulp mills in Ketchikan and Sitka did not result in economic devastation. Instead, the economies of both towns are holding their own and unemployment did not skyrocket as was predicted.
The truth is that the timber that fueled those mills was sold at far below market prices and that the American taxpayer has always paid the bill for logging the Tongass. ``Heaven forbid'' that timber corporations be held responsible for the full cost of road construction or have to pay a fair market price for publicly owned resources.
The truth is that the corporate raid on the forests of the Tongass continues to cost the taxpayers money (over $33 million in 1997). Logging has negative impacts on both the tourism and fishing industries, the other two legs of the stool of Southeast's economy.
If it is really the taxpayers' money you are worried about, then your editorial stance should be to reduce subsidies to logging by including the Tongass in the U.S. Forest Service's proposed Roadless Area Conservation policies and to end ``corporate welfare'' for the timber industry.
On June 19th, the Forest Service will be holding a public hearing in Juneau to hear public comment on the proposed Roadless Area Conservation policies. Taxpayers should come to the ANB Hall at 7 p.m. and encourage the inclusion of the Tongass in those policies. For too long taxpayers have shouldered the cost of Sen. Murkowski's timber welfare program in Southeast. The winds of change are blowing.
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