Eliminating our forests doesn't protect them

Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2003

Listening to Gov. Murkowski's State of the State speech, I was disturbed to hear him say the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's (ADF&G) Habitat Division will be consolidated with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Native corporation logging is controlled by the Alaska Forest Practices Act, which is the brainchild of DNR.

I have watched with horror as our Native corporations have clear-cut our forest right down to the edge of several salmon streams leaving very little or in some cases no buffers.

I have watched the Native corporations log away and continue to log away our viewshed and with total disregard for the users of the forest.

I have watched the corporations log right down to the beach leaving a thin 66-foot buffer and in some cases no buffer.

I have watched the Native corporations log mile-wide swaths 10 miles long, leaving no wildlife corridors.

I have watched the corporations foul the sea floor with toxic bark.

I have watched with horror raw logs being loaded on to ships and exported to Asia along with all the jobs associated with processing these logs.

I have watched all of this for over 25 years out of my living room window and it seems with the blessing of DNR. The ADF&G Habitat Division is the only entity allowed to approve, disapprove or even make comments about corporate logging on private land.

The Hoonah Indian Association, the Hoonah ANB and the Hoonah Tlingit & Haida Community Council have all submitted resolutions protesting corporate and USFS logging and in several resolutions asked that all clear-cutting be stopped. The corporations along with the Knowles administration ignored these resolutions and the Knowles administration was considered by the present administration to be anti-development. Now it seems that Gov. Murkowski wants to eliminate all processes of opposition. He said he would work closely with the rural communities and Native corporations to help develop our natural resources. One of our most precious resources, the forest, has been developed almost to the point of nonexistence in and around Hoonah.

Gov. Murkowski said he is concerned about the welfare and continued prosperity of Alaskans, but I can't understand how the elimination of the resource that protects our chosen and precious way of life (hunting, fishing, subsistence gathering, etc.) can be beneficial to us or the next generation.

Floyd Peterson


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