Vitter told The Daily Signal, “Instead of finding a middle ground that promotes responsible forestry and jobs, these litigation-happy organizations are solely focused on shutting down the forestry industry and completely disregard the potential environmental benefits.”

A family-owned timber firm that operates the last significant sawmill in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest has won a momentous U.S. Forest Service contract: the Big Thorne Project, which will allow the harvest of nearly 150 million board feet of wood.

The Obama administration’s decision marks the transition away from old-growth timber and toward a sustainable forest industry based on young growth. More than a quarter of the trees in the contract are regrowth on previously logged sites, to be nurtured for a sustainable future.

But winning bidder Viking Lumber Company can’t begin the transition because at least five environmental groups are suing to “stop this massive old-growth clear cutting on public lands.” For years, environmentalists have tried to stop logging in old-growth forests—lands that are economically valuable because they have been growing for over a century.

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