Tongass Timber Plan Plunders Taxpayer Pockets

Tongass Timber Plan Plunders Taxpayer Pockets

Article,  | Analysis
Dec 11, 2008  | 2 min read | Print Article


Since 1982, the Forest Service has lost nearly $1 billion subsidizing the timber industry in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. That equates to an average annual loss of nearly $40 million. It is long past time for the Forest Service to come clean with the American public about how much it spends and put a stop to these wasteful subsidies.

  • The Forest Service continues to ignore the realities of the market place, spending millions of taxpayer dollars to sell timber no one wants—even at bargain basement prices. 45% of the timber sales the agency offered between 1998 and 2007 received no bids.
  • Of the 5,000 miles of Tongass forest roads, only 1,200 miles, or 24%, are open to passenger cars. Built with taxpayer money, the remaining 76% of roads are for timber access and extraction. Taxpayers are building roads they cannot use in order to shield timber companies from the true cost of doing business.
  • Job numbers have been inversely proportional to Forest Service spending. Between 1996 and 2007, Tongass timber-related jobs fell from 1,558 to under 200. Consequently, taxpayer subsidies per Tongass timber job have skyrocketed to nearly $300,000 per job.                                            

The Bottom Line

Taxpayers should not be forced to pay the price for the Forest Service’s mismanagement. Basic common sense dictates that ignoring rising losses year after year points to just one thing—increased future losses. It is time for the Forest Service to stop throwing good money after bad and face the realities of a changing market.