Murkowski, Biden at odds over Alaska post-timber future

By Marc Heller | 05/07/2024 06:29 AM EDT

The Republican senator wants more funding for new programs after the administration reinstated limits on timber harvesting in 2021.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sees Biden administration logging-related efforts in Alaska as just a down payment. Francis Chung/POLITICO

The Biden administration’s plan to help southeastern Alaska adjust to a future without old-growth logging faces a nagging political problem: It’s not enough for Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Murkowski, the state’s senior senator, is at a stalemate with the administration, pushing for more funds for the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy, a $25 million effort — so far — to spark a wider range of industries in the formerly timber-dependent region.

Officials crafted the plan in 2021 as compensation for the administration’s decision to reinstate limits on timber harvesting and road construction on nearly half of the Tongass National Forest’s 16.7 million acres.


The ventures, matched with local funds and enlisting economic development and conservation groups, include commercial fishing, tourism and a smaller-scale wood products industry built on cutting trees in areas ready for a second harvest decades after their first logging. Old-growth forests are mostly left alone.