SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



US House Votes Spending Millions on Logging Roads Isn't Good Investment


May 19, 2006

Thursday the U.S. House agreed that spending taxpayer dollars on building logging roads on the Tongass National Forest is not a good investment. The amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill which calls for ending subsidies for logging roads was sponsored by Republican Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio and Democrat Robert Andrews of New Jersey. It passed 237 to 181.

According to the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, the Chabot/Andrews amendment is supported by nearly 80 Southeast Alaskan businesses and 21 outfitter and guiding businesses.

"Southeast Alaskans rely on and care about the health of the Tongass. The Forest Service has to balance the needs of other users of the forest with those of the timber industry-that means not wasting money on logging roads, but using their limited funds to support growing sectors of the economy," says Beverly Anderson, Business and Community Outreach Coordinator of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.

The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council says that many Tongass-dependent businesses are concerned that while the Forest Service is subsidizing a struggling industry, which contributes less and less to Southeast Alaska's economy, projects that would support other growing sectors of our region's economy are short on funds. The spending priorities of the Forest Service focus on road building and large timber sales, while projects such as tourism planning, review of special use permits for hunting and fishing businesses, cabin and trail building and maintenance, and fish and wildlife habitat restoration all lack adequate funding.

Gregory Vickrey of the Tongass Conservation Society said, "This is a clear and major step towards conserving this incredible rainforest and preserving the benefits it provides to the quality of life for us that live here as well as a step towards the multiple use mandate the Forest Service is required by law to subscribe to." He said, "Businesses that depend on the Tongass related to tourism, commercial and sport fishing, and sport hunting won today. Subsistence users won today. Taxpayers won today. All of us who enjoy this great ecosystem won today."

The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council says industries such as recreation, tourism, commercial and sportfishing, and hunting are significant contributors to the regional economy and in fact provide many more jobs than does the Tongass timber industry.

Citing the most current employment statistics from the Alaska Department of Labor and Work Force Development , the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council says the statistics show that in 2004, average monthly employment in the scenic and sightseeing industry was 586 people, and 1,450 in seafood processing. Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission data show that there were 1,964 active fishermen in 2004, not including crew members. By contrast, only 300 people were employed in logging and forestry in Southeast Alaska.

"People come here to see this amazing place we live in," says Jai Crapella of Spirit Walker Expeditions in Gustavus. "Spending so much money on these logging roads is inappropriate. I think the Forest Service is starting to catch on, but they need to put more money into supporting tourism businesses."

"My family and I are small mill owners. While we support the use of forest products we cannot approve of the Forest Service's unbalanced use of their funding," says Gordon Chew. "An effort to serve the small mills and fledgling industries is a good place for Forest Service priorities."

Joel Hanson of The Boat Company said, "The Forest Service needs to update its priorities. A lot of people depend on the Tongass for their businesses, and the agency needs to support them and stop wasting money."

Gregory Vickrey of the Tongass Conservation Society said, "The bill will next go to the Senate, and one can reason that if passed, the Forest Service will be better equipped to fund programs related to tourism planning, cabin and trail building and maintenance, and fish and habitat restoration all of which are woefully under-funded historically, even though the latest statistics from the State demonstrate tremendous growth and opportunity in these areas."

"Local support of this bill played a vital role in it getting passed, and those of us that live here are the ultimate beneficiaries. As it moves forward to the Senate, we look forward to seeing even more bipartisan support for this bill that further addresses our quality of life," says Vickrey.

E-mail your news & photos to

Publish A Letter on SitNews
        Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska