U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today commented on the Forest Service's issuance of a memorandum on the transition to young growth that will provide direction to the Tongass:
"Earlier this week, I welcomed the announcement that the Big Thorne timber sale is moving forward. I indicated then that I would prefer that the sale was somewhat larger and of a longer duration, with a greater assurance of a long-term supply of timber, but that I appreciate that the sale is on the market.
"As for the Secretary's announcement on transition to harvesting young growth, I am still very skeptical that such a transition can be successful. But ultimately, my goal is, and has always been, to get more marketable timber -- of whatever type -- into the timber base to develop a revitalized, sustainable Tongass timber industry.
"It will be vital to see the details and the timing of future old growth sales and exactly what the Tongass Land Management Plan revision will call for before knowing whether to accept or reject the Forest Service strategy. But given the years of a starvation diet of timber supplies, it's clear that the Forest Service has a big job ahead of it to reassure all sides that it can implement a successful transition to a young-growth industry in Southeast. The vigorous defense and completion of the Big Thorne sale will be a much-needed sign of good faith for the people of Southeast Alaska."
Murkowski is Alaska's senior senator and the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.