Green anger as Bush opens Alaska forest to logging

The US will open more than 12,000 square kilometres of Alaskan wilderness to logging, mining and road building, the Guardian reported on Tuesday. The plans are intended to revive the state's timber industry, but worry green campaigners who say it will devastate the region.

The Tongass National Forest is a refuge for grizzly and black bears, wolves, eagles and wild salmon, the report said. The move will reverse the protection given to the area by president Clinton.

"In its final months, the Bush administration is attempting to give logging and mining industries the keys to the Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest," Robert Vandermark, manager of the Pew environment group’s heritage forests campaign, was quoted as saying.

But Owen Graham, executive director of a timber industry group, was quoted as saying: "It is critical that the final plan allows our industry to survive… not a continuation of the starvation level we have been struggling with for the last few years."

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