Why people want forest policy change

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Why are they giving away our forest? Officials with the United States Forest Service state that the embarrassing numbers on timber industry subsidies are correct, but the Forest Service is not in the business of making money. However, they fail to answer the crucial question - "why are they giving away our forest?"

The USFS cites the need to fulfill market demand in their Environmental Impact Statements, but this is totally erroneous. Little is being sold on the Tongass and little is being cut. Timber corporations have many sales under contract that remain uncut. Many more sales are simply "on the shelf," ready to be offered when the Forest Service pleases.

In fact, market conditions are so weak that the Forest Service is offering up our forest for as little as a penny per board foot. That's right, a penny per board foot. Even at this ridiculous price the Forest Service often receives either a single bid or no bid at all on some sales. Perhaps the Timber Sale Program has deteriorated into a jobs program for the timber sale planners. All of this takes place with the support of our erstwhile "fiscally conservative" elected officials. What's wrong with this picture?

It is easy to understand why tens of thousands of citizens from around the country are demanding changes in forest policy. The Forest Service and the politicians will have to be dragged kicking and screaming, but the real owners of the national forest, the taxpayers of this country, deserve better.

Richard Hellard

Juneau



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