Whose best interests?

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2003

In January, Sen. Stevens attached a Tongass rider to the federal spending bill which transcends environmental concerns. The rider states the Tongass wilderness plan "shall not be reviewed under any Forest Service administrative appeal process, and its adequacy shall not be subject to judicial review by any court of the United States." This precedent dangerously curtails the opportunity for appropriate public appeal and use of the judicial branch of government to evaluate decisions.

In addition, he has now attached two more riders to appropriations bills which severely restrict or prohibit public challenge, appeals and litigation of Tongass timber sales. These riders further limit Alaskans' ability to manage their own resources, leaving little recourse for those most impacted by the decisions made by the logging industry. These new riders could allow the Forest Service to cut the public out of public review, ignore natural resource science, and break the law by putting out timber sales that violate national forest laws, the Tongass Timber Reform Act and the Tongass Land Management Plan.

Alaskans are systematically being forced out of the role of overseeing the use of Alaska's state resources. The decision-making process is being turned over to those whose interests are immediate financial gain. This is not an environmental issue. It is an issue of who has the right to manage Alaska's resources for now and for the future. I do not believe Stevens has Alaskans' best interests at heart here.

Cindy Damm


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