Bush Reverses Logging Ban in Alaska’s Tongass Forest

Doing their part for holiday spirit, the Bush administration announced just two days before Christmas that it is exempting Alaska’s Tongass National Forest — America’s largest, and a longtime environmental battleground — from a controversial Clinton-era ban on development in roadless areas of national forests. The administration says the change opens only 300,000 acres of the nearly 17 million-acre forest to logging, but environmentalists retort that the roads that will be built to carry loggers to their loot will disrupt up to four times that much land, by the U.S. Forest Service’s own estimates. That’s not good tidings for southeast Alaska’s renowned salmon runs, which enviros say could be seriously harmed by development in the ancient forest. And that’s not all the Bushies snuck through while you were ripping off wrapping paper and quaffing champagne — more in today’s Muckraker column.