Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) led 74 Congress members today in urging U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to support a real transition away from industrial-scale, old-growth logging towards more sustainable industries in the management of Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.
“With limited resources and staff, we believe the Forest Service should focus actions that support the current and future economy of Southeast Alaska,” the representatives wrote. “We support good paying jobs in the forest and support sustaining the local milling infrastructure by focusing on second and young growth forest stands, thinning, and watershed health that has been deteriorated by past logging practices. There is more than $100 million of work to be done to restore watersheds alone – something that will take another 50 years to address at current funding levels.
The Congress members also urged the Forest Service to invest limited agency resources in Tongass National Forest projects that support the 17,000 jobs in fishing, tourism, and recreation. These industries form the cornerstone of Southeast Alaska’s regional economy.
“These jobs and restoration needs should be priorities,” the letter said.
The signers asked Vilsack to reevaluate the planned five-year timber sale program in the Tongass and to heed the department’s public commitments to end the old-growth logging business.
Read the press release and the full letter here.