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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why are Americans destroying our Tongass National Forest?


In a late-night backroom deal, Members of Congress snuck a provision into an unrelated Defense Authorization bill that would log some of the rarest and largest ancient trees remaining in one the world’s most intact old-growth temperate rainforests—Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. This is a forest that you and I own, as American citizens.

Bald Eagles

The Tongass has been hit hard by industrial-scale old-growth logging, and pending timber sales, such as the announced Big Thorne project. Excessive logging is already threatening the tracts of unbroken forest needed by birds and wildlife. The language in the Defense Authorization bill will transfer irreplaceable public lands from Alaska's Tongass National Forest to a private corporation, allowing it to cut some of the rarest and largest ancient trees left in the forest. These old-growth forests are critical for birds and other wildlife, including the Bald Eagle, Queen Charlotte Goshawk, Alexander Archipelago wolf, Sitka black-tailed deer, and more. This sneaky, underhanded attack on the Tongass will only add to the risks for birds and other wildlife. It will affect us all.


According to the State of the Birds 2014 report, the list of “home-wreckers,” threats to healthy bird habitats, is long and growing: they could threaten half of all North American bird species. The Tongass National Forest itself is the home and breeding ground for many, many species of wildlife, but unfortunately few voters. Please urge Congress to leave the large, ancient trees of the Tongass standing, instead of giving them to lumber companies.


OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.  


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