FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: ROBERT DILLON (202) 224-6977
MARCH 3, 2011 MEGAN HERMANN (202) 224-7875
Murkowski Questions Forest Service Chief On Declining Timber Sales
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today questioned Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell over the lack of timber sales in the Tongass National Forest, which is threatening the economic viability of Southeast Alaska communities.
Murkowski made the following comments during her opening statement at the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee’s hearing on the service’s 2012 budget proposal:
“In your written testimony, Chief Tidwell, you have a portion titled ‘Jobs in Rural Communities.’ Folks in Southeast Alaska are skeptical and, perhaps, cynical about the promises made by the Forest Service.
“The big mills in Southeast were gone years ago, but this year, the second largest remaining mill in Southeast closed and has gone from over 600 employees to six. The sole remaining large mill is desperately worried about its timber supply. The second largest timber-related construction company is gone and the largest is now down to four employees.
“Chief Tidwell, the federal government owns 98 percent of Southeast Alaska, with the vast majority of that being the Tongass National Forest. Income is falling in Southeast and it is the only region of our state where the population is declining and getting older. This is a direct result of policy and management changes by the Forest Service.”
To view video of the hearing available at the Energy Committee web site: Click here.
In 2008, the Forest Service promised to offer four 10-year timber sales, of up to 200 million board feet each, in the Tongass National Forest. The sales were meant to ensure the economic survival of mills in Southeast Alaska. In its current budget proposal, however, the Forest Service is now saying it wants to convert two of the timber sales to “stewardship” contracts and only offer half the board feet in small parcels. The continued failure of the service to offer access to timber has resulted in the closure of mills in the region and threatens the existence of the industry in Southeast Alaska.
For further information, please contact Robert Dillon at 202.224.6977 or Robert_dillon@energy.senate.gov or Megan Hermann at 202.224.7875 or Megan_Hermann@energy.senate.gov.
Visit our website at http://energy.senate.gov/public/