It’s a big bummer, but not a big surprise: The Bush administration ruled on Friday that it will not provide wilderness protection for any additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, a move that will open up hundreds of thousands of acres of old-growth forest to logging. Public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of creating more wilderness in the Tongass; about 170,000 of 175,000 public comments to the U.S. Forest Service on the matter favored that course. But Forest Service officials dismissed most of the comments because they were form letters, a decision that Tim Bristol of the Alaska Coalition said showed contempt for the public process. The decision by the administration is just the latest in a string of moves in the last six months that make forest policy more friendly to the timber industry and less friendly to wildlife and ecosystems.

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