Tongass roads would be just another giveaway

Letter To The EditorTongass roads would be just another giveaway

This article by Autumn Hanna first appeared in The Washington Post on September 29, 2019

In her Sept. 26 Thursday Opinion essay, “It’s time to lift the Tongass ‘roadless rule’,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) conveniently ignored who will bear the cost of exempting the Tongass National Forest from the national roadless rule: all federal taxpayers from Florida to Washington. That’s because the roadless exemption in Alaska is really about corporate welfare for the timber industry.

This week, my group is releasing a new report that details $600 million in money-losing timber sales in the Tongass over the past two decades. We’ve been working on this issue since the early 2000s, and it’s still mind-blowing that we actually lose money “selling” the timber we all own. We’re already losing on the sales happening outside roadless areas; opening up millions of acres more to timber harvest in the hardest-to-access places will cost taxpayers a whole lot more. And it saddles Americans with all of the liabilities associated with maintaining roads, runoff and more that comes with all that logging.

We already have a road-maintenance backlog of more than $3 billion in our national forests. Let’s tackle that and reform the timber program before moving forward on this latest giveaway.