Forest Service Cancels Timber Sales in Tongass

The U.S. Forest Service plans to cancel 20 timber sales in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest — not because it’s dedicated to preserving old growth in the vast rainforest, but because the sales were sure to be money-losers for logging companies. Enviros are feeling vindicated by the development; they say it proves that a lack of timber from the Tongass has not been the cause of decline in the region’s timber industry. Aurah Landau of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council says the timber sales could have led to damaged salmon streams and expressed hopes that the Forest Service will redesign them to be more ecosystem-friendly. That seems unlikely, though: In working to come up with sales that will be profitable for loggers, the Bush administration is likely to relax rather than beef up environmental protections.