1998 Scorecard Vote
The Tongass National Forest in Alaska preserves America's last great temperate rainforest, home to pristine trout and salmon streams and such species as grizzly bears, goshawks, and wolves. More than four decades ago, the Forest Service opened up this area--the country's largest national forest--to widespread clearcut logging and road-building, which jeopardize ecosystems, wildlife, and wild areas dependent on the old-growth forest.
A 1997 U.S. Forest Service plan authorizes cutting 267 million board feet from the Tongass--more than double the amount cut from the forest in 1996--and permits subsidized construction of up to 110 miles of new roads every year. Despite being home to the biggest money-losing timber program in the country, the Tongass was omitted from the Forest Service's 1998 moratorium on road-building in national forests.
Rep. George Miller (D-CA) offered an amendment to H.R. 4193, the Fiscal Year 1999 Interior appropriations bill, to prohibit funds from being used to construct new roads in the Tongass National Forest. On July 23, 1998, the House rejected the amendment, 186 - 237. YES is the pro-environment vote.
Led by Rep. John Porter (R-IL), many moderate Republicans voted against the Miller amendment because of an agreement they reached with Resources Chairman Don Young (R-AK) and the House Republican leadership to eliminate the Purchaser Credit Program. Under the Purchaser Credit Program, the logging roads were built in national forests by timber companies in exchange for receiving "credits" that they could use in lieu of cash to make payments on their federal timber sales. In essence, this program traded trees for logging roads. The environmental community has advocated the elimination of the Purchaser Credit Program for years. In exchange for the elimination of Purchaser Credits, the moderate Republicans agreed to oppose any efforts to further restrict road-building or the timber sale program in the Fiscal Year 1999 Interior appropriations bill, and the conservatives agreed not to use the bill to undermine the Forest Service's proposed road-building moratorium.