Facts in dispute

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Empire Publisher Don Smith's June 16 Tongass editorial continues to use incorrect facts to support his conclusions. If correct information and a first-hand knowledge of the issues are important to the publisher then there is room for dialogue and debate. Reasonable people can disagree on how much wilderness or logging make economic, social and environmental sense for the Tongass.

Related Editorial:

The Sierra Club and a federal judge deal Southeast Alaska another economic blow

However, for Mr. Smith to use his unique position as publisher to so misrepresent the facts is an embarrassment to Juneau, the state and anyone who cares about the Tongass, no matter what side of the issue they support.

Mr. Smith falsely claims that there will be no Tongass timber harvest in 2004 and/or 2005, that only 500,000 acres (rather than the 1 million acres) have been logged since 1907. He further claims that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game finds no negative impacts from logging and that the forest is mature within 40 to 50 years of being logged. Mr. Smith's "facts" are wrong and the record clearly proves them wrong.

When Mr. Smith quotes my congressional testimony in support of HR 987 in the mid-1980s that neither I nor SEACC intended the pulp mills to close, I guess what he is trying to say is that setting aside areas from logging have closed the mills. Not true! The Forest Service agreed that if that bill were enacted there would be adequate timber to satisfy the pulp contracts. Please consider that timber theft, high-grading, the reduction of massive subsidies and world economics were the real cause off the antiquated and polluting mills to close.

Mr. Smith states that 2.2 million acres of Admiralty Island are protected in Wilderness. Actually, fewer than 1 million acres are protected. Rather than go on I'll simply say that I do agree with Mr. Smith in that people need to register their feelings to the Forest Service regarding the current roadless review. But, please base your response on facts.

Mr. Smith claims that the environmentalists have given themselves a black eye. I suggest Mr. Smith check his mirror.

K.J. Metcalf


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