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Southeast Alaska's timber industry is struggling to survive.
We need to maintain both the remaining sawmills that rely on federal timber sales and the private timberland operations that sell to both the local mills and export customers. Both segments of our industry employ our loggers, road builders, tug and barge operators, fuel suppliers, powder suppliers, transportation and the rest of the requisite infrastructure. If one or the other of these ceases to exist we will have insufficient business to sustain even the current low level of logging companies, road building companies, mills and the service industry that supports them in business. The loss would be felt by many communities in Southeast Alaska.
Alaska Forest Association supports Sealaska's land legislation that would complete their Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act land entitlement with lands that will enable them to sustain their forestry program, help maintain our regional economy and preserve the Tlingit and Haida culture.
Without this critical legislation Sealaska will no longer be able to maintain its operations and our industry could collapse altogether with devastating consequences for all of Southeast Alaska. Alaska Forest Association has worked with Sealaska to help craft this legislation and have found them willing to address issues that arise during this legislative process.
We encourage Congress to quickly work through any remaining issues and pass this legislation this year.
Owen J. Graham
Executive director, Alaska Forest Association