Republican Rep. Richard Pombo summed up the Forest Service on the Tongass perfectly when he said in a recent Empire article detailing national forest planning regulation changes: "These Soviet-like methods have produced so many outdated plans and so much red tape that the agency has been incapable of responding to changing conditions in our forests.."
That's exactly the case on the Tongass. The Forest Service spends too much time, energy and tax money trying to prop up a timber industry that simply isn't working and cannot compete in the global marketplace. The latest changes to forest planning regulations, which will make it much harder for Southeast Alaskans to have their say in logging and road-building proposals, is but the latest big government "solution" to be issued from Washington D.C.
Later in the same article, Alaska Forest Association spokesman Owen Graham says he needs more wood, that under existing rules the Forest Service isn't ... "putting out enough timber to fill a thimble." This is pure propaganda from our comrade in Ketchikan.
The truth is, the free market has turned against the Tongass timber industry of the past and other forest-dependent industries have emerged as the dominant job creators and wealth generators. Unfortunately, rather than work with these changes, the Forest Service is blazing through money and stifling public participation in order to keep people like Owen Graham limping along. This approach doesn't work, history has taught us that lesson. Unfortunately, the Forest Service seems hell-bent on repeating those failures here on the Tongass.