Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Forester affirms Traitors Cove project

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JUNEAU - The Traitors Cove project has received the go-ahead from the highest Forest Service authority in Alaska. Regional forester Dennis Bschor this week upheld Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole's decision to authorize the project on Revillagigedo Island, 20 miles north of Ketchikan.

Bschor agreed with Cole's approval of the selected alternative, Alternative 2 with modifications. It allows the harvest of 17.1 million board feet of timber from 905 acres, and the construction of 7.14 miles of National Forest System road and 1.21 miles of temporary road in the Traitors Cove project area. No harvest or road construction is proposed in North Revilla Roadless Area 526. All new roads will be placed in storage or decommissioned after completion of the project.

Cole had modified Alternative 2 to drop Unit S07 due to multiple resource concerns, including cultural and traditional uses, and the largest known population of a rare plant in Alaska-the lesser round-leaf orchid.

The Forest Service received one appeal from an alliance of three environmental groups-the Cascadia Wildlands Project, Greenpeace and the Juneau Group of the Sierra Club.

Complainants questioned the deer model used to determine sufficient deer habitat for the support of wolf standards, subsistence and human-related uses. The appeal reviewing officer found that the Traitors Cove Final Environmental Impact Statement used the most recently approved deer habitat capability model developed for the Forest Plan to evaluate the quality of deer winter habitat in the project area.

The project is expected to create 82 year-round jobs to support local and regional economies.

Soldier helps Iraqi girl with vision problems

WAUSAU, Wis. - A 7-year-old Iraqi girl who had trouble finding candy thrown her way by troops is in the United States for a cornea transplant - thanks to a soldier who saw her difficulty, a Wausau doctor and some Lions Clubs.

Army Sgt. John Kempen, who is stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, noticed the girl's vision trouble when he served in Iraq from August 2005 to December 2006.

Kempen, a native of Crandon, took her to see his medic and then spoke to Iraqi doctors who said they couldn't help her. The girl's father told Kempen that she has felt like she has sand in her eyes since she was a baby.

The girl was identified only by her first name, Zahraa, to protect her family in Iraq. She is scheduled for surgery Tuesday at Aspirus Wausau Hospital. All the services are being donated, the hospital said.

A year ago, Kempen turned to the Lions Clubs, known for their work to combat preventable blindness around the world. The girl arrived in the United States earlier this month to be evaluated by Dr. Kevin Flaherty, a cornea specialist at the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin.

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