In her October 22 My Turn, Lindsey Ketchel described the Tongass Futures Roundtable as “a multi-party collaborative group” which “requires that people with different views persuade and educate each other to come to a reasonable consensus” regarding management of Southeast Alaska’s national and state forest lands. Ms. Ketchel did not mention that as executive director of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, she serves on the roundtable.
Unfortunately, the Tongass Futures Roundtable is an exclusive, non-governmental, privately funded, self appointed group which purports to represent a broader portion of the Southeast Alaska public than it really does. The roundtable and its members do a grave disservice and injustice to citizens who expect public discussion about the Tongass National Forest and other public lands to be aired entirely through public forums. Examples are public involvement efforts required by the National Forest Management Act, National Environmental Policy Act, other federal and state laws and regulations, and Congressional and state legislative deliberations. For the U.S. Forest Service to be a member of the Tongass Futures Roundtable is at best a circumvention of these public processes. At worst, the agency’s participation in the roundtable raises serious legal questions.
Alaskans do not deserve to have public land management considerations aired even partially by an exclusive, privately funded, and self appointed group such as the Tongass Futures Roundtable.