On Feb. 25, a letter to the editor by David Lubin, a small business owner from Sitka explained his opposition to the Sealaska land bill. After I read his letter I concluded that he is in principle supporting the legislation because it accomplishes Lubin’s stated goals, the protection of important watersheds, creating employment diversification, providing sustainable jobs, and protecting important fish producing systems in Southeast Alaska.
The legislation changes where Sealaska can select lands. Currently Sealaska must make its selections from lands with high fisheries values, remote undisturbed landscapes and areas that provide municipal drinking water. Under the 2011 legislation, these important areas will remain in public ownership. The legislation protects the priceless natural areas that the author references. The land bill also promotes and encourages further expansion of the ecotourism opportunities that David supports.
In our public meetings, that included Lubin, the Sitka Tribe and others, Sealaska considered their ideas in modifying the legislation, including ways to avoid land selections that conflict with existing businesses. Sealaska held more than 225 meetings, where all stakeholders were welcome to speak, and their ideas are reflected in the current legislation.
Sealaska agrees with the author—jobs and the diversification of our economy—are our greatest strengths. This legislation does just that.