House Cuts Funding for Tongass Roads

The U.S. House of Representatives last night passed a bipartisan measure that would — if approved by the Senate and not vetoed by President Bush — cut off federal funding for building logging roads in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the country’s largest intact swath of old-growth forest. Supporters of the measure argued that federal funding of road-building amounted to a massive corporate welfare program — for the $36 million the Forest Service spends annually administering logging sales in Tongass, it gets back just over $1 million. Enviros hailed the decision as an important step toward protecting the forest, long the subject of heated controversy. The debate over the bill brought out some rather interesting arguments from opponents. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) called the measure “very rude.” Rep. John Peterson (R-Penn.) said support for the measure by hunting groups was misguided as “[o]ld-growth forests don’t have a lot of wildlife because there’s no food there” — an assertion that is, strictly speaking, loopy.