1989 Scorecard Vote
The House passed strong reform measures that will balance the uses of our nation's largest forest, the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. The Tongass has the last extensive stands of uncut temperate rainforest in North America. A heavily subsidized Forest Service timber program now threatens this spectacular old-growth forest and its salmon spawning streams and habitat for bald eagles, grizzly bears, and many other species.
The Tongass Timber Reform Act seeks to bring responsible multiple-use management to the Tongass by replacing outdated 50-year timber contracts with short-term contracts. It would repeal a Congressionally mandated timber supply level as well as an automatic Congressional appropriation of at least $40 million a year to the Tongass timber program, thereby temporarily protecting valuable fish and wildlife habitat from logging and road building. Conservation groups would like to see this bill strengthened to include wilderness designations for key fish and wildlife areas and to require buffer strips along all salmon spawning streams.
A weaker version of this bill, supported by Chairman E. Kika de la Garza's (D-TX) Agriculture Committee, was unsuccessfully offered as a substitute on the House floor. The substitute would not have replaced the 50 year timber contracts, but would have called for improvements in the contracts by attempting to "re-negotiate" with the contract holders. The Agriculture Committee version also had weaker language regarding stream buffer strips and Congressionally-set timber supply levels.
The House rejected the weaker de la Garza Substitute 144-269. No is the pro-environment vote. The stronger reform measure was then passed by the House on July 13, 1989.