Cover image for Tongass : pulp politics and the fight for the Alaska rain forest
Tongass : pulp politics and the fight for the Alaska rain forest
Durbin, Kathie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Corvallis : Oregon State University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
328 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SD428.T6 D87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Set in Alaska's coastal rain forest, Tongass is a dramatic story of greed, courage, bare-knuckles politics, and the fate of a remote, beautiful land.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

A vast, splendid coastal woodland in southeast Alaska, the Tongass has been home to native peoples for centuries, and to the timber industry's clearcuts and pulp mills for decades. Durbin (Tree Huggers) relates the political history of the Tongass since the late 19th century to the present., following particularly closely the money, popular movements, court motions, claims and counterclaims of the past few decades. The result is a blow-by-blow account of a messy controversy and an impressive example of thorough journalism. Complex struggles among tribes, companies, activists, the U.S. Forest Service and Congress ended in an environmental victory when the last big pulp mills closed in the early 1990s. Though it includes exploitative corporations and crusading ecologists, the story holds plenty of ironies too. The Alaska Native Claims Act (ANCA) of 1971 encouraged tribes to form corporations that could then sell forest rights for profit: when the Angoon Tlingit decided to try to protect uncut Admiralty Island, another tribe claimed the right to sell its wood. Durbin's study will reward anyone who wants to learn about Alaska or about environmental politics and law, whether out of historical curiosity or to prepare for the next big forest fight. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Durbin's well-written work explores the exploitation of and fight to conserve the world's largest remaining coastal temperate rainforest: the Tongass National Forest located in southeast Alaska. The book is divided into three sections corresponding to periods prior to 1980, 1980 to 1990, and after 1990. To stimulate local economic development and post-WW II recovery in Japan, the US government attracted two large pulp companies to the region by offering long-term harvest contracts and low-cost timber. With little oversight by the US Forest Service, the companies engaged in destructive logging practices, serious environmental pollution, collusive antitrust activities, and poor labor relations. Grassroots and national conservation groups, commercial fishermen, Tlingit Indians, and independent loggers mounted a defense for the forest at the local, state, and national levels. Durbin's expertise as an investigative reporter is evident from the thorough documentation of pivotal persons and important legislation and the establishment of a clear time line of events. Although similar to Joan Dunning's From the Redwood Forest (CH, Feb'98), Tongass should prove more useful as an educational source because it is based on well-researched evidence and in-depth treatment of both ecological and social issues. Undergraduates and up. J. King; Michigan Technological University