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At the Pelican City Council meeting on July 8, I listened with dismay to a teleconference with the U.S. Forest Service Ranger in Hoonah. The basic point conveyed to the residents of Pelican was that discussions were taking place between the forest service and Shee Atika representatives about exchanging Shee Atika land on Admiralty Island at Cube Cove for approximately one third of Yakobi Island and a portion of Chichagof Island across from Pelican.
Should this occur, all the now-public land on the selected areas in Lisianski Inlet would become the private property of Shee Atika Inc.
The Cube Cove land was selected by Shee Atika in the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; it has been logged by the corporation. The Lisianski land is adjacent to the West Chichagof-Yakobi Island Wilderness Area and is relatively undeveloped land. The Apex-El Nido gold mine across from Pelican went out of production in the late 1930s, and no structures remain standing.
The Chichagof selected land stretches from the waterfall on the inlet across from Pelican westward around into Lisianski Straits to a point approximately two-and-a-half miles past Stag Bay. The Yakobi Island selection reaches from Soapstone Cove at the mouth of Lisianski Inlet to Miner Island and the down the Lisianski Straits to a point approximately two miles past Stag Bay.
The forest service is interested in the exchange, because it would make Admiralty Island National Monument "more whole." Evidently, they overlook current settlements at Greens Creek Mine, Funter Bay, city of Angoon, and Pybus Bay Lodge.
I strongly object to this exchange; quite frankly Shee Atika made its selection and it should keep its land. Shee Atika has utilized its land by harvesting the trees; it makes no sense to trade that land for public land of great value.
The Lisianski land in question is regularly used by residents of Pelican, Juneau, Hoonah, Sitka and elsewhere for deer hunting and other subsistence and recreational purposes. The proposed land exchange would remove more than half of the best hunting areas from public access. Rather than make the Admiralty National Monument "more whole" at the expense of some other area, let us keep ANSCA whole by adhering to the original terms; a deal is a deal. I will be writing to Forest Cole, forest service supervisor in Ketchikan, regarding this subject as well as every politician that may influence him. I encourage others to do the same.
President, Pelican Chamber of Commerce