By M.C. Kauffman
June 27, 2007
Locally, the Ketchikan-based Tongass Conservation Society was pleased with the vote said its Executive Director Gregory Vickrey. He said they were appreciative of the strong bipartisan efforts in the House of Representatives and the dedicated work of countless folks and businesses in Southeast Alaska and nationwide, for the vote to end taxpayer subsidies of logging roads in the Tongass National Forest.
The amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio and Democrat Robert Andrews of New Jersey, won by a count of 283 to 145 and was supported by a broad coalition of local Ketchikan businesses, citizens, and conservation groups said Vickrey.
"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," says Gregory Vickrey of the Tongass Conservation Society. "Businesses that depend on the Tongass related to tourism, commercial and sport fishing, and sport hunting won today. Customary and traditional users won today. Taxpayers won today. All of us who enjoy this great ecosystem won today."
However Young disagrees that the taxpayers are the winners. He said on the House Floor, "The job-killing Andrews/Chabot amendment is not about protecting taxpayers. It's about fooling them. It's about forcing my constituents out of work and removing people from the Tongass so the environmentalists have a 17 million-acre, taxpayer subsidized playground for themselves."
Speaking against the passage
of the Andrews/Chabot amendment Tuesday, Rep. Young said, "The
problem with the timber harvest program is that environmental
groups have purposefully driven up the costs of managing it by
filing multiple, frivolous lawsuits and appeals. Now that
they have successfully created the problem, they're offering
a solution: target a Member of Congress unfamiliar with Alaska
and the Tongass; express concern that the Tongass timber program
has become uneconomical and should not be funded by the taxpayer;
request that they offer an amendment; threaten Members with a
negative score on their annual report cards for failing to support
By contrast Vickrey noted, only 300 people were employed in logging and forestry in Southeast Alaska.
"Local support of this bill played a vital role in it getting passed, and those of us that live here [Ketchikan] 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", said Vickrey.
Young said of the "yes"
vote, the amendment will cripple what's left of the industry
in Southeast Alaska and eliminate several hundred Alaskan Jobs.
The Tongass National Forest occupies 16.8 million acres in Alaska. Currently, about 14 million acres are set aside as wilderness, roadless, or as another land use where road building is generally not permitted.
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