I don't think I want to hear this.
That's perfectly understandable. Nobody uses the barracks, because the townspeople at nearby Teneke Springs went to court and stopped the building of a road from Corner Bay to their town—after the Forest Service had completed 11 miles of it.
In all, the service maps and builds roads in Southeast Alaskan forests good for 450 million board feet of cutting each year, even though these days only about half of that is sold when it is offered at auction. By last summer the Forest Service had a six-year backlog of unsold leases for mapped and road-ed timber tracts.
You've gotta be kidding.
Anyway, according to the Forest Service's own figures, the roads in difficult terrain like the Lisianski Inlet usually cost from $150,000 to $250,000 a mile. That seems low, considering the estimated 21 heavy-duty bridges that will have to be built in the complicated river-mouth area. But even using the Forest Service's figures, the nine winding miles of road the project requires would cost from $1.35 million to $2.25 million.
So the U.S. Treasury, by way of the Forest Service, pays the difference and loses money?
Always, and lots of it. In 1983 the service lost 91 cents on every dollar invested in Southeast Alaska—if invested is the right word. In '84 it lost 93 cents on each dollar. In '85 and '86, 99 cents.
Does the Forest Service do this badly in the rest of the country?
Not quite, but the government does lose $600 million a year on below-cost timber sales across the country.
And the timber companies don't share in any of these costs?