The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) within the Department of Agriculture manages 193 million acres of public forests and grasslands collectively known as the National Forest System. The Tongass National Forest (Tongass) in southeast Alaska is the largest national forest at 16.8 million acres, roughly the size of West Virginia. Every year, the USFS prepares and conducts sales for the rights to harvest millions of board feet of timber from the Tongass. These sales have consistently generated less revenue than the USFS spends to administer them, resulting in large net losses for U.S. taxpayers. New budget data for the latest fiscal year reveals that the USFS has continued its decades-long streak of losing millions of dollars on Tongass timber sales.
- In fiscal year 2019, the USFS lost $16.1 million.
- Since fiscal year 1980, the USFS has lost approximately $1.7 billion, or $44 million per year on average.
- USFS could end up losing nearly $190 million in the Tongass over the next five years from planned sales, and more if currently roadless areas are opened to logging.
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