2004 Scorecard Vote
At 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest of southeast Alaska is America's largest national forest and the world's largest remaining old-growth temperate rainforest. Centuries-old trees provide critical habitat for wolves, grizzly bears, wild salmon, and bald eagles.
Over the last 45 years, however, the timber industry has cleared more than 1 million acres of old-growth trees from the forest and carved out an estimated 5,000 miles of logging roads. Despite all this activity, the Forest Service has continually lost money on the Tongass logging program, forcing taxpayers to provide millions of dollars in subsidies. In 2002 alone, the Forest Service spent $36 million to subsidize logging operations in the Tongass and earned a mere $1.2 million in timber profits.
Nevertheless, the Bush Administration has worked to open more of the Tongass to logging. In December 2003, Administration officials removed logging protections that had been put in place under the Clinton Administration and moved forward with nearly 50 timber projects in previously protected areas of the Tongass.
On June 16, 2004, Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Robert Andrews (D-NJ) offered an amendment to H.R. 4568, the Interior appropriations bill, to prohibit the use of federal funds for building commercial logging roads in the Tongass. On June 16, 2004, the House passed House Amendment 554 by a bipartisan vote of 222-205 (House roll call vote 253). YES is the pro-environment vote. This provision was not included in the final Interior appropriation.