We should worry about logging in our own backyards

Posted: Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Bob Martin's Sunday My Turn in the Juneau Empire brings up a great point about the past logging in Hobart Bay. It is growing back and nice, second growth is forthcoming. Sealaska's plan for that land is good and should be pursued.

We logged land in Kake where I supervised back in the 1990s when I was their president. We spent $250,000 per year replanting and thinning the area, and today it is growing back and looking great. We followed all of the state and federal rules and regulations and even went beyond that by keeping logging away from salmon producing streams.

I wish I could say the same about logging in Juneau. Behind McDonald's and Jordan Creek condominiums, they logged within 10 feet of Jordan Creek - an endangered salmon-producing stream.

I recently had a conversation with the owner, just asking how far they will log, since my home is right behind there. He informed me, "right up to the limit of 10 feet from my land." I asked why and he said it is because of how the homeowners treated him during the hearings set by the Planning Commission, and he said selling the logs would bring in revenue. The many homeowners nearby worked within the system and thought we had a solution. I guess I was wrong.

They will do what they want, even with the solutions we had adopted by the Planning Commission. If a Native corporation was doing this, they would be fined a very large sum. Here in Juneau, no one questions this. It is private land but so is the Native corporation land.

Before criticizing Native corporation policies, folks here in Juneau should look in their own backyard and speak up. There is logging in the borough and right behind me. They are violating all of the state and federal laws relating to that industry.

Another is the opening of the Kensington Mine. The Slate Lake opponents here don't look around in Juneau. At the Juneau dump, the area is the size of Slate Lake. The garbage seeps into Lemon Creek and it flows into the Gastineau Channel and into Auke Bay and beyond. The seepage will have a huge impact on the ecosystem around Juneau, but no one talks about a solution to the dump nor do they file lawsuits about its impact.

It is my opinion, that seepage from our dump will have a larger and longer lasting impact than Slate Lake.

I was taken aback at the comment of the land owner behind me. I asked if he would plant shrubs and trees as we were told would happen. He said no.

"We will log right up to your backyard," he said.

So much for the planning process and time we all spent on it. The logged land will be vacant for a while given the economy. And because some of us spoke out, we are being punished. Strange place we live in.

Gordon Jackson

Director of transportation, Central Council Tligit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and former president and CEO of Kake Tribal Corp

Juneau



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