Keep temperate forests intact

Regarding the editorial ``World's Wood Resource,'' Feb. 4: The temperate rain forest is one of the rarest ecosystems on earth, and exists in only a few places - the coasts of New Zealand, Patagonia, and western North America (of which the southern two-thirds has been reduced to scattered fragments). The largest intact areas of temperate rain forest remaining in the world are here in Alaska. But since these have not been included in the International Tropical Timber Agreement they will soon be fragmented as well.

The Forest Service has decided to continue its destruction of the rain forest on Prince of Wales Island and other areas of the Tongass National Forest. This does not make any sense, environmentally or economically. According to a study by Randal O'Toole, the Tongass timber expenses for 1989 were $32 million, and Treasury receipts were $3 million. It gets worse by the year until 1992, when we had Treasury receipts of minus $14 million and Treasury expenses of $45 million. Would you invest in a company with this kind of returns? Well, we each are - it's our taxes that are subsidizing this industry.

Here's my suggestion: Since we are paying money to the Forest Service to subsidize these operations, I would rather just pay all the employees of the Ketchikan Pulp Mill and all the other company people on Prince of Wales Island their salaries and not cut the trees. It's our money being spent one way or another, so why not pay them not to cut? Better yet, let's provide for retraining, education, whatever it takes to help these people make a living and not have to depend on a false economy for their survival. We are asking other countries to do this, and yet we cannot practice what we preach. Karin Holser, Wasilla, Alaska

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