Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, August 07, 2006

Cougar Ace moved to calmer waters

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ANCHORAGE - A car carrier carrying nearly 5,000 autos was being towed Sunday to calmer waters inside the Bering Sea to continue efforts to right the 654-foot ship.

The Cougar Ace was being towed through Samalga Pass in the Aleutian Island chain to waters north of Unalaska Island and was located about 10 miles northwest of Umnak Island in calm seas Sunday.

Authorities determined last week that the process of reducing the ship's 60 degree list could be carried out more safely inside the Bering Sea instead of in unpredictable sea swells in the North Pacific.

A member of the salvage team looking at how to stabilize the listing ship died July 30 when he lost his footing, slid down the ship's deck and hit his head.

Forest Service considers Yakutat timber sale

JUNEAU - The Tongass National Forest Yakutat Ranger District is considering a small timber harvest of up to 500,000 board feet along existing roads in the Yakutat Forelands.

Timber would be harvested in two- to 15-acre units, totaling about 100 acres, either through several small commercial sales or issuance of free-use permits.

The project is intended to provide a long-term, continuous supply of very small commercial timber sales for residents, small sawmill owners and Yakutat residents, who may obtain 10,000 board feet of timber through free-use permits. An open house on the proposed timber harvest is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 21, in the Kwaan Conference Room, next to the Yakutat ranger district office.

The U.S. Forest Service will review the effects of the timber harvest in an environmental assessment. To learn more, contact District Ranger Patricia O'Connor at 907-784-3359. Send comments on the project by Aug. 30 to Michelle Putz at the Sitka Ranger District, Tongass National Forest, Attn: Yakutat Small Sales EA, 204 Siginaka Way, Sitka, AK 99835 or fax: (907) 747-4253.

Bloggers can voice thoughts on forest management plan

JUNEAU - The Tongass National Forest has established a blog on its Web site for its Forest Land Management Plan revision.

The U.S. Forest Service is under a court order to revise the forest plan because it erroneously doubled the projected market demand for Tongass timber.

"Our hope is that this blog will be a forum for meaningful discussion about forest planning issues," said Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole.

The blog is organized as a series of discussion topics. New topics will be added in the future. The Web address is

People wishing to participate in the blog will need to register and log in to post a comment. One thing the blog won't be used for is submission of formal public comments on the Tongass National Forest plan amendment, Cole said.

Those interested in keeping up with the amendment process also can find details at the Forest Plan amendment Web site,

Interior official meets with tribes

JUNEAU - The associate deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior visited Juneau last week on a tour through Alaska to meet with Indian tribal governments.

James Cason, also an acting assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, met with the Tlingit-Haida Central Council on Wednesday to discuss matters such as federal funding for tribal self-governance.

The central council hosted a salmon and halibut dinner for Cason last Wednesday at the tribe's community council center. The dinner was attended by tribal members, leaders, elders and state legislators.

"A lot of these folks come down to the Lower 48 to meet with us," Cason said.

To reciprocate, Cason said he and several staff members carved out a 10-day block of time to visit tribes in Alaska.

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