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Another regional environmental group?

Posted: April 4, 2013 - 12:00am

Every so often a team comes together that really clicks. Where agreed goals are readily reached, where differing opinions are sincerely heard and where a synergy fosters motivation. Hopefully this will be an enduring core of the new, volunteer-run, regional conservation group -- the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community (GSACC), formed a year ago. Our primary focus will be on habitat protection for fisheries and wildlife but within the greater context of pressing issues such as climate change, ocean acidification, and carbon sequestration.

The impetus for forming GSACC was to reestablish an authentic regional grassroots voice in the citizen oversight of natural resources in Southeast Alaska. We are concerned that the Forest Service’s Transition Framework to 2nd growth timber really means continued subsidized old-growth logging for decades and a “transition” only when the old-growth is cut out. We will also renew regional conservation support to the legitimate environmental concerns of communities, commercial fishermen and others that would be affected by the Sealaska bill (S.340). Simply stated, the Sealaska legislation is bad environmental policy and even worse economic policy. To support S.340 is either wrong-headed or disingenuous for unknown reasons.

In part, GSACC arose in response to recent collaborative efforts that have purposely excluded many grassroots voices. In contrast, GSACC hopes to broaden the diversity and dynamics of full public participation through the combined experiences and perspectives of its Board of Directors. Collectively, there is a pool of 220 years of first-hand experience in natural resource research, habitat advocacy, and public lands/resource management.

Three founders have worked for the Forest Service and three for the Alaska Dept. of Fish &Game. A majority of the board are current or former commercial fishermen. Nearly all board members still hunt and fish.

All of our directors have served on the boards of environmental or natural resource organizations and three have served on the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council’s board – including two as Board President.

Lastly, our experience is diverse and interdisciplinary, including environmental law, forestry, engineering, forest planning, road location/surveying, hydrology, forest economics, eco-tourism, wilderness studies, commercial fishing, seafood sales, wildlife biology, ecology, silviculture, journalism and video-production. But most important our leadership wants to build on decades of principled and accomplished advocacy – that is with fire in our bellies. You can find us at http://gsacc.net

Joe Mehrkens

GSACC Founder

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