WASHINGTON (June 27, 2007) – The House of Representatives last night approved an amendment to end the subsidized destruction of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the crown jewel of America’s national forests. At 17 million acres, the Tongass is not only America’s largest public forest, it also is the heart of the biggest remaining temperate rainforest on Earth.
Since 1982, U.S. taxpayers have been forced by U.S. Forest Service policy to spend over a billion dollars on clearcuts and the logging roads they depend on in this rainforest gem. Offered by Reps. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) and Steve Chabot (R-OH), the amendment stops federal dollars from being used to build new logging roads in the Tongass. In one stroke, the amendment arrests the practice of subsidized industrial wildland logging in the Tongass that loses nearly $40 million every year. The vote was 283-145, stronger than previous years, and shows that opposition to the subsidy is growing, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“Americans want their hard-earned dollars spent wisely. By paying to have our wildlands destroyed, the federal government has been as bad a steward of the public purse as it has been of public lands,” said Franz Matzner, forest advocate for NRDC, who helped lead the fight for the amendment. “What happened last night for the Tongass is what’s happening all over the country. People are standing up and demanding that our last, wild places be preserved for their use, not to create a profit margin for dinosaur industries that can’t make it on their own. The Senate should take notice and move to end these subsidies.”