Bush Opens Alaskan Rainforest to Logging - Express Your Outrage!

Info at Circle of Life info at circleoflife.org
Tue Jan 6 15:08:17 EST 2004

Dear fellow environmental, peace and justice activists,

Just before Christmas Eve, President Bush quietly rolled back restrictions
on road building within Alaska's pristine Tongass National Forest -- proving
once again that millions in campaign cash can reap enormous rewards.

Bush's move opens up 300,000 acres of Alaska's grandest trees and best
wildlife habitat to commercial logging, and threatens to leave an
industrial-scale footprint of clear-cuts and roads across 2.6 million acres
of rainforest (for more and to take action on this issue, please see below).

Fortunately, public sentiment against this type of corporate plunder remains
strong, which is why the Bush administration delivered this gift so slyly
and so close to the holidays. In order to ensure that Bush's slash-and-burn
tactics are exposed -- especially during this critical election year --
please write your local newspaper and express your outrage today!

Our friends at the Alaska Coalition have made it easy by including excellent
sample letters in their notice below. Just log onto the following website,
enter your zip code, and choose from the list of local media organizations
to compose your letter (the more personal, the better!):

Thanks for your commitment in defense of the earth!

Yours for a just and sustainable future,

Aaron Lehmer
Action Support Coordinator, Circle of Life



On December 23, the Bush administration announced that they were revoking
roadless area protections from the Tongass National Forest. We need your
help in making sure that the Bush administration's decision is revealed for
what it was -- an outrageous gift to the timber industry.

This past summer when the Bush administration proposed to exempt the Tongass
National Forest from the landmark Roadless Area Conservation Rule and sought
the public's input, more than a quarter of million comments were delivered
to Forest Service. Nearly unanimously Americans opposed removing protections
from the Tongass which contains the world's largest remaining tracts of
coastal temperate rainforest. Less than one percent of the comments received
by the Forest Service favored exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule.

Instead of listening to the public's opposition to their plan to exempt the
Tongass from the Roadless Rule, the Bush administration chose to listen
instead to their allies in the timber industry.

Send a Letter to Editor of your local paper and help make sure that the Bush
administration's holiday gift to the timber industry is revealed. Visit the
following site -- http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media -- to send a
letter to the editor by email. Here are a few suggested letters that you
should feel free to personalize!


Dear Editor:

It appears as if an ironic sense of holiday spirit is alive and well in the
Bush administration. With a Christmas Eve announcement, they gave the timber
industry a gift of enormous proportions by revoking protections on our
nation's largest national forest. The gift: the best and biggest wild areas
in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska -- a national treasure and the
world's largest remaining coastal temperate rainforest.

Shamefully the "gift" was given despite the public's overwhelming support
for conserving wild areas in the Alaskan rainforest. And the price tag,
billed to American taxpayers, is steep. We lose millions of dollars every
year -- $35 million in 2002 -- because the Forest Service spends far more
money preparing logging projects and building logging roads than the timber
industry pays in return for the trees.

Rather than catering to the timber industry, the Bush administration should
have fulfilled the wishes of the American public and maintained the
protections of the Tongass. It would have been a priceless gift.


Dear Editor,

If the Bush administration thought that announcing an unpopular
environmental decision on Christmas Eve was a clever way to have it go
unnoticed, then they were wrong. Exempting the Tongass National Forest in
Alaska, our country's largest forest, from the Roadless Rule has been
noticed. How could it not?

The Roadless Rule, which prohibits commercial logging and roadbuilding in
pristine forest areas nationwide, is the most popular conservation policy in
history. All told the Forest Service has received on the Rule close to 3
million public comments with the vast majority in support of strong
protections. Most recently, when the Bush administration sought comment on
their proposal to exempt the Tongass, nearly a quarter of a million public
comments were delivered to the Forest Service. Less than 1 percent of the
comments favored removing protections.

It's past time that the Bush administration began to take note of the
public's wishes for a better record on the environment.


Dear Editor,

"Understated" is the kindest word I can find for the Bush administration's
suggestion that their decision to exempt the Tongass National Forest from
the Roadless Rule opens just 300,000 acres and impacts only 3 percent of the

Using the same statistical shell game, a decision to pave and clearcut all
of Yellowstone National Park could be described as impacting just 3 percent
of America's National Park System because development was limited to only
2.2 million acres. It sounds ridiculous because as a nation we recognize
that our National Parks contain some of the best of our country's natural
treasures and deserve protection. Sadly, the Bush administration has chosen
to revoke protections from the best of America's rainforest.

Truth be told -- exempting the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless
Rule removed protections from 9.3 million acres. If we're talking
percentages, then it's important to note that two-thirds of the Tongass
National Forest is rock, ice and muskeg. Only 4 percent of the Tongass ever
contained the biggest and most productive old-growth stands -- the
ecological heart of the rainforest. To date, over half of these areas have
already been clearcut and scarred by logging roads.

And the 300,000 acres? The Bush administration and their allies in the
timber industry have targeted 300,000 acres of the biggest trees and the
best habitat for logging that will leave an industrial-scale footprint of
clearcuts and road-building across 2.6 million acres of watersheds in the

* * * * *

For more information about this alert or other issues relating to the
Tongass and Chugach National Forests contact: Laurie Cooper, Forest Program
Director, Alaska Coalition (laurie at alaskacoalition.org).

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