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Continued Funding For Roadbuilding To Permit Timber Interests
In Tongass National Forest Supported by Sen. Murkowski


June 19, 2004

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday she will fight against an amendment in the Senate, approved Wednesday in the House of Representatives, that would deny funding for all new road construction in Alaska's Tongass National Forest - funding needed to continue timber harvests in nation's largest national forest.

Murkowski was reacting after the House approved an amendment to the proposed Interior Appropriations Bill for FY '05 by Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., and Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, that prohibits the expenditure of any federal dollars for any new road construction in Southeast's 16.9-million-acre Tongass National Forest.

"The purpose of the amendment is to drive a nail into the coffin and kill off Alaska's remaining family-owned sawmills. To stop funding for any road construction will kill the state's timber industry because it will deny access to any new timber. Unlike the Lower 48 where old logging roads crisscross the national forest, roads in Alaska are needed to access the state's timber, especially since relatively recent environmental withdrawals have changed the locations of potential timber sale tracts," Murkowski said.

"Without some road funding, the industry will die putting another 1,000 Alaskans and their families out of work and killing an industry that already is just a shadow of its former self," said Murkowski, in support of a Tongass timber industry.

Murkowski disputed an Alaska Rainforest Campaign statement that argued that taxpayers are unfairly "subsidizing" timber operations in the Tongass. She noted that with the recent improvements in global timber markets that the demand for Tongass timber is increasing and that timber prices are rising, increasing stumpage revenues to the federal government in the process.

She noted that the Tongass is already fully protected from an environmental standpoint as less than 4 percent of the forest is open to logging -- only about 570,000 acres out of the 16.9 million open to any form of timber development in future centuries. She noted that the Tongass already contains nearly 6.5 million acres of formal wilderness and that millions of additional acres of old-growth are already classified as protected in non-logging status.

"The issue is whether Congress is going to allow some harvesting of renewable resources to aid the nation and Alaska's local economy. It would be a crime for such an amendment to actually be implemented into law since it will steal the livelihoods from over a thousand Alaskan families for no sound reason," she said.



Source of News Release:

Office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Web Site


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