Shame on you, Forrest Cole. Just a few weeks after your widely circulated editorial praising the Tongass as "one of the 'crown jewels' of public lands" and stating that the Forest Service "intends to keep it that way," the agency has gone ahead and approved Coeur's operating permit for the Kensington Mine.
That the Forest Service has expressed no significant reservations about this proposed mine under your supervision is deeply saddening. Apparently implementing the forest plan means "efficiently" giving private profits higher priority than the health of the forest, because they certainly aren't the same thing. It seems to me that the Tongass is a jewel you are content to pry out of the crown and hawk to anyone who flashes some green; and I don't mean spruce.
Berners Bay is an economic and ecological treasure already. It is a haven, a place of growth and resurgence for people and animals alike, and already supports businesses that manage to sustain themselves without fundamentally changing the natural state of the bay. All of these current functions of Berners Bay stand to suffer from the inevitable impacts of mining in the immediate vicinity. For the Forest Service to hand this cherished place over to mining interests after such an uncritical evaluation is disheartening.
I would have liked to believe you meant what you said about the Tongass as a crown jewel of our national forests, but the thing about crown jewels, Mr. Cole, is that they only retain their majesty when you leave them intact.