Forest bill benefits only timber industry

Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Hey Alaska: Congress back in D.C. is trying to blow smoke through our eyes as they cut a deal with timber industry allies and the Bush administration. This bad bill is called the "Healthy Forests Initiative" and all it's going to do is leave the Chugach, Tongass and other public lands up in smoke, our communities at risk and cost taxpayers more money.

The Forest Service has limited funds with which to do a very important job: protect communities from fires. We shouldn't divert resources away from that mission.

Rather then staying focused on protecting communities, President Bush and allies in Congress would allow timber companies to log deep in the backcountry miles from at-risk communities under the auspices of fuel reduction. The problem is that it's the small trees and brush near communities, which are not profitable to timber companies, that actually increase the risk and severity of fires and put lives and homes at risk.

If that limited staff time and money is spent preparing timber sales deep in the backcountry, we will needlessly leave communities at risk. The Forest Service should dedicate personnel and resources to true hazardous fuel reduction - thinning small trees and brush near communities. Tell Congress to start making real solutions and drop HR 1904. I don't know about you, but I'd like to save my taxpaying dollars for next year's fishing season on the Kenai.

Theo Saner

Anchorage



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