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House Votes to Stop Subsidizing Logging in the Tongass

On May 18, 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to stop charging taxpayers millions of dollars to subsidize the environmentally-damaging, money-losing logging projects in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.  With a definitive 237 to 181 vote, the House approved an amendment to the Interior-EPA appropriations bill that bars construction of taxpayer-subsidized logging roads in the Tongass. The bi-partisan amendment was successfully championed by Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Rob Andrews (D-NJ).

Since 1982, the U.S. Forest Service has wasted $1 billion in taxpayer money – losing an average of $40 million a year – by subsidizing the Tongass timber program.  The Forest Service estimates that 90-95 percent of Tongass timber sales are unprofitable.  In addition to being unprofitable and environmentally-damaging, the Tongass timber industry provides fewer jobs than the growing recreation, tourism, fishing, and hunting economies that rely upon the Tongass remaining intact.  In 2004, over 4,000 people worked in the tourism, fishing, and hunting industries in the Tongass compared with just 300 people in the timber industry.

At 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest in Alaska is America's largest, untouched, old-growth, temperate rainforest, providing rare natural habitat for bald eagles, grizzly and black bears, salmon, wolves, and other wildlife. This pristine landscape is considered to be the crown jewel of America's national forest system, attracting hunters, fishermen, and tourists from around the world.