Last September Sen. Lisa Murkowski came to Juneau to hear what the public had to say about her Cape Fox Land Exchange bill, legislation that would trade public lands in Berners Bay for scattered parcels of mostly clearcut lands and subsurface rights near Ketchikan. Although the meeting only allowed a fraction of attendees to testify, the message was loud and clear: Hundreds of people in Juneau did not want to see Berners Bay lands given away to corporations.
Public lands are a hallmark of our society. Our country's vast acreages of public lands represent the true wealth of the United States. Senator Murkowski should consider the tremendous value the public, her constituents, place on the public lands surrounding our communities in Southeast Alaska. Berners Bay is cherished for its beauty, wildness, and abundant fish and wildlife. People from all walks of life use the bay - to hunt, fish, boat, camp, hike and kayak.
As Senator Murkowski tries to pass this bad legislation through Congress this month, I would encourage her to find other lands to trade. The Tongass National Forest is 17 million acres in size. Surely there are other public lands that could be traded without upsetting so many constituents.
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