Senator Stevens is again demonstrating his disrespect for public and democratic processes by attempting to push through a rider that would cripple the ability of federal courts to rule on timber sales within the Tongass National Forest. Stevens' rider on the interior appropriations bill would limit the amount of time the public has to challenge logging projects in the Tongass in addition to limiting the amount of time federal courts have to rule on these cases. His rider would direct federal judges to rule on Tongass logging cases within 180 days, which would require courts to prioritize timber sale challenges above nearly every existing type of lawsuit. This is a blatent attempt to limit the ability of anyone to challenge timber sales in the Tongass.
The Tongass National Forest is one of the largest remaining temperate rainforests in the world and serves the greatest public good by remaining intact. The forest already provides tangible economic benefits such as the fishing and tourism industry that have supported the economy of Southeast Alaska as the timber industry has crashed around the world. Senator Stevens' rider is just another attempt to limit public and legal input in the management of our national forests.