As ATIA’s president and chief executive Sarah Leonard notes, these lands are not only important to Alaskans but are also essential to the 240 travel-related businesses and sole proprietors who hold special use permits to operate on the Tongass. Tourism is the largest private-sector employer in the region. In her op-ed published in the Juneau Empire, Leonard pointed out the Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) also questioned the Tongass budget cuts in a recent hearing in Congress and asked Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to reconsider the issue.
(While the Forest Service cuts funding for Tongass recreation programs that support the region’s robust tourism and fishing industries, it continues to spend more than $20 million annually on old-growth timber sales and logging roads, an industry that barely supports around 100 private-sector jobs.)
Read Leonard’s op-ed.