The Nation

The environmental lobby scored a long-sought victory as the House, by a 361-47 margin, passed a bill to overhaul the commercial timber program in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. The measure, sent to the Senate, would scrap the 1980 law that guarantees the U.S. Forest Service at least $40 million a year to support timber sales from the nation's biggest national forest and the continent's last large temperate rain forest. Supporters of the bill like the Wilderness Society say the guarantee--unique among U.S. forests--has caused not only destruction of ancient trees but huge losses for taxpayers, with Tongass sales posting a deficit of $254 million from 1982 through 1987. Alaska's lone House member, Republican Don Young, argued that the bill repudiates a deal made in 1980 with environmentalists when Congress put huge areas of Alaska's vast acreage off-limits to development.

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