The Orion North timber sale awarded to Pacific Log and Lumber of Ketchikan and will destroy 381 acres in Thorne Arm on Revillagigedo Island near Ketchikan.
In addition to the clear-cutting of the trees and elimination of important forest habitat, two miles of roads will be constructed at tax-payer’s expense to enable loggers to get at the trees.
In March, a coalition of five conservation groups filed a lawsuit challenging the proposed timber sale because the logging would destroy lands in the last major intact, roadless watershed remaining on Thorne Arm. The groups point out that the watershed provides important old-growth habitat connecting Misty Fjords National Monument with the coastal habitat along Thorne Arm.
“The day when this kind of timber sale made sense is long gone,” said Carol Cairnes, president of the board of the Ketchikan-based Tongass Conservation Society. “Cutting these trees will not even bring in half the money the Forest Service will spend building a road to get to the trees.”
“The Orion North timber sale has been on the books for a decade. Since then, timber prices have plummeted while the costs of timber sales to taxpayers have skyrocketed,” said Kate Glover, an attorney with Earthjustice, the law firm representing the conservation groups.
“There has also been a lot of new scientific research in that time. For example, we now know that deer habitat in Thorne Arm may barely be sufficient to support wolves and deer hunting,” said Glover. “If the Forest Service keeps logging here, we could see restrictions on subsistence and recreational hunting in the future.” But the district judge did not agree.
In June, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an injunction to halt the timber sale.
Both of Alaska’s senators applauded the timber sale despite the massive cost to the environment and wildlife.
“While this is a relatively small sale, it’s a good first step for the Secretary’s new policy,” said Begich. “I appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s willingness to look at the facts and draw the right conclusions. I look forward to helping him and the new Chief of the Forest Service, Tom Tidwell, get to know Alaska and the issues on our national forests, the two largest in the system.”
Clear-cutting trees in our national forests in this day and age is just plain stupid and self-destructive. There are plenty of affordable green substitutes for wood and paper. If the real cost of logging was allowed into lumber and paper prices then people would simply choose more responsible options. The federal government only subsidizes the most destructive industries.