Image courtesy of markcbrennan via flickr
Any (admittedly dim) hopes that President Bush might choose to salvage his tattered - some might say non-existent - environmental credentials were dashed when his administration announced plans to open more than 3 million acres of Alaskan forests to logging, mining and road building. The Guardian's David Adam reports that the plan will open 3.4 million acres of the Tongass National Forest, a haven for a variety of vulnerable species, to logging and other development, 2.4 million acres of which are currently pristine. The area had previously been granted protection by the Clinton administration under its "Roadless Rule" provision.
Claims by supporters of the plan that it would help bolster and sustain Alaska's economy were quickly shot down by environmentalists, who pointed out that logging makes up only around 1% of the state's economy - a far cry from the much more significant share made up by other activities that will be put at risk by the move, such as commercial fishing and tourism.In what seems like a poor attempt at jest, Denny Bschor, the Alaska regional forester who helped approve the scheme, told Adam that it would "sustain the diversity and health of the forest . . . and ensure a source of recreation and solitude for forest visitors." Other interest groups, already clamoring for more giveaways, have decried the plan as not going far enough; Owen Graham, executive director of the Alaska Forest Association, said the plan, as is, wouldn't even ensure his industry's "survival."
Hidden amongst its concessions to the timber industry lie a few meager protection provisions: 90,000 acres of old-growth reserve and 47,000 acres of karst lands would be placed off-limits to logging activity.
Via ::The Guardian: Bush opens 3m acres of Alaskan forest to logging (news website)