Tongass forest should be protected

Posted: Sunday, October 06, 2002

The poorly advertised and poorly organized public hearing on the Tongass National Forest this summer by the U.S. Forest Service still received 86 percent of the Alaskan comments from our state supporting wilderness protection. There were over 90 percent of the 170,000 comments made by U.S. citizens supporting wilderness protection of areas in the Tongass National Forest.

Why is the public being forced out of key decisions on the Tongass National Forest?

Why is the Forest Service not protecting the public when 12 to 13 of the forests are publicly owned and over 70 percent are under the rule of private enterprise in the United States?

Why does the Forest Service continually ignore the facts that recreation employs over 30 times more people and the national forests receive over 30 times more public revenue from recreation activities than from timber-related activities?

Why does the Forest Service continue to support building roads in the Tongass National Forest, when we already have as many miles of road in the Tongass National Forest (17.5 million acres) as exist in the state of Alaska (364 million acres)? The only "unhealthy" thing in the Tongass National Forest is the road building, which is detrimental for fisheries, wildlife, recreation, and causes our forest to become unhealthy. We have no fire hazard, we have over 200 inches of rain in some areas of the forest, and the things that makes our forest unhealthy are road building and forest management. I would like to see these two items covered in the healthy forest legislation.

We presently live the greatest single expanse of remaining temperate rainforest in the world. The Tongass National Forest has the world's largest concentration of grizzly bears and bald eagles. Let's keep the forest healthy.

All facts in this letter can be verified by USFS bulletins.

Cliff Lobaugh

Juneau



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