The Mackovjak letter of March 6 suggests a lack of understanding of the forest industry. Perhaps Mr. Mackovjak would have a different opinion of Sealaska Corp., if he understood forestry issues. For instance:
Sealaska does practice responsible forestry. They have an effective reforestation program and they have healthy stands of timber in all the areas they have harvested.
Sealaska conducts ongoing research in forestry-related issues, including monitoring deer habitat. There are still plenty of deer in Hoonah.
Sealaska operates in compliance with the Alaska Forest Practices Act.
Sealaska Corp., has an obligation to make prudent economic decisions for the benefit of its shareholders. This obligation includes seeking the highest value for its timber products. The forest products manufacturing industry in Alaska has not been allowed to develop and grow like the industry in other regions, consequently mill operators in those other regions can pay more for timber than mill operators in Alaska.
The school may be the largest employer in Hoonah, but there is a small sawmill operating there. Hopefully that mill will be able to continue to operate and become more efficient and competitive in the future. A recent McDowell report concluded that Sealaska activities contribute almost 30 percent of the personal income in the community of Hoonah.
The timberlands around Chicken Creek can be harvested without harm to the salmon habitat. In fact, there are many locations around Southeast Alaska where fish stream enhancement projects have been made possible because of the improved access provided by the timber industry.
Consider this information, Mr. Mackovjak. Demonizing our industry through your characterizations such as "quick and dirty" and "brutal clearcuts" will not help the people living in small communities such as Hoonah. I understand your concerns about cultural values and I don't attack them. Please don't attack our industry. I would suggest you contact us or Sealaska to find out more about the benefits of forestry to the regional economy, the studies to ensure that we maintain productivity of fish habitat and efforts to sustain important wildlife dependent for cover and forage in managed forest stands.
Owen J. Graham
Alaska Forest Association