This week, the Obama administration approved the sale of timber in a roadless national forest in Alaska. The Tongass National Forest is a 17 million acre temperate rain forest in southeast Alaska, which is home to both endangered species and native Alaskan tribes. It is the largest temperate rain forest in the United States.
Orion North timber sale is the first such awarded since Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced in May he would personally review all timber sales in roadless areas of national forests in the next year.
Tongass environmental activists had been hoping Vilsack's announcement would translate to a temporary moratorium on timber road-building in roadless areas, including Orion North and three other timber sales on the Tongass. President Obama supported the roadless rule in his campaign.
In this video, produced by savebiogems.org, you can see both the natural beauty of the landscape and wildlife In The Tongass Forest, along with the destruction that logging has caused.
Alaskan Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich both supported the administration's decision to allow the timber sale, explaining that it would provide jobs to the area's underemployed loggers.
Environmentalists have long criticized allowing logging in national forests as not only destructive, but a waste of taxpayer money.
According to The Wilderness Society:
American taxpayers have not only watched as the Tongass has been picked apart by road building and logging, they've paid for the privilege. The tab extends beyond $750 million over 20 years. In a single year alone, the Forest Service spent $36 million on the Tongass timber program and got back in revenues only $1 million. Subsidies for logging roads account for nearly half of timber program costs annually.