Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration will soon be a step closer to opening millions of acres of America’s largest national forest to logging despite evidence that the plan will waste taxpayer funds and bring meager economic returns, according to a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress.
The brief shows how focusing on timber production in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest also neglects the opportunities that the Tongass creates for other industries, namely commercial fisheries and tourism, which are cornerstones of southeast Alaska’s regional economy.
The administration wants to change the roadless rule, which has been in place since 2001 and prohibits construction or expansion of roads on certain tracts of undeveloped land in national forests. The rule aims to protect sensitive habitats and conserve wild areas. The initial comment period on the proposed rule change ends October 15.
“The Trump administration’s move to rewrite the Alaska roadless rule fits a pattern of relying on timber in the Tongass despite its disappointing economic returns,” said Ryan Richards, senior policy analyst for Public Lands at CAP and author of the brief. “Instead of opening up millions of acres of old-growth forest for logging, the administration should help invest in sectors such as fishing and tourism that take advantage of what the Tongass really has to offer.”
The timber industry accounts for less than 1 percent —less than 400—of southeast Alaska’s jobs, the brief says. More profitable industries, on the other hand, such as tourism and commercial fishing, together generate more than $2 billion in revenue annually and employ more than 10,000 people in the region.
Read the issue brief: “Fraud in the Tongass” by Ryan Richards
For more information, or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-478-6327.