My turn: Stop red tape from choking Alaskans

Posted: Thursday, August 17, 2006

The federal noose is tightening. If anyone has watched "Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" they know what a Vogon is. The Vogons are an alien race that must process "red tape." They sit around all day long and think of new forms to create and new ways to process more forms and papers to regulate the regulations. Vogons cannot make a move without a stamped form that directs a specific action. Their goal? To regulate everyone else in the universe "out of business." Its a weird movie.

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Alaska's Wilderness Areas and the Tongass National Forest cannot and should not be managed like the rest of the nation's federally owned lands. Alaska and its people do not live and do not want to live like citizens in the Lower 48 states.

Historic land-use rights are taken away under the disguise of "adjustments" and "revisions." New regulations are adopted because people who live in the Lower 48 far outnumber Alaskans and write more letters. The U.S. Forest Service comment system is seriously flawed. More consideration should be given to a resident's comments and far less given to a nonresident's comments.

It is my understanding that the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act doesn't restrict the number of people in the Tongass or Stikine/LeConte Wilderness Area. The legislation states that these areas can be used as established by historic use personally and commercially. Commercial riverboats historically brought groups of people to areas on the lower river and to Telegraph Creek.

Examples of traditional and historic use of the Stik-Heen (Stikine) River include entire family groups traditionally and historically using the Stikine River area for traditional summer camps. How long ago? Oh, let's say about 8,000 years. How many people from one tribal house? Approximately 40 people. This is about right, if my immediate family decided to go camping it would be about 35 to 40 people with grandpa, grandma, siblings, nieces, and nephews (including son-in-laws).

If this ridiculous "proposal" is accepted as a new regulation, it would mean that my family could not go camping or picnic together anywhere on the Stikine River. For goodness sake, Alaska Natives and Alaska Sourdoughs have been historically using the area since time immemorial and haven't trashed the place yet. We don't need an outside initiated, outlandish regulation to protect our own backyard.

If the general public wants to continue to enjoy the river like they have over the past hundreds of years, if the reader would like to continue using the river for family reunions or to just join a group of friends, spend the weekend cruising the river, skiing in Twin Lakes and soaking in the hot tubs, you better get out your pen and paper and write the U.S. Forest Service.

Remember when Wrangell and Southeast Alaska had a thriving timber industry? We don't have a thriving timber industry anymore because thousands of greenies sat down and wrote letters to the Forest Service asking the government to limit timber harvesting on the Tongass National Forest. Their non-resident comments far outweighed an Alaskan's comment and the health and economic welfare of communities and people living in the Tongass National Forest.

Please write your comments to: Tongass National Forest, Attn: Forest Plan Adjustment, 648 Mission Street Ketchikan, AK, 99901, or e-mail:

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for writing a short note to the address above.

• Wilma E. Leslie is a former timber business owner and soon-to-be former tourism business owner, due to overregulating Vogons. She is a resident of Wrangell.

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