Court rules against Alaska communities

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, September 09, 2005

In Gov. Murkowski's comments in Monday's opinion page, it is quite clear that he was referring to the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe's lawsuit against the Forest Service to halt logging efforts in the northern part of the Tongass National Forest. He labeled the tribe as an "extremist" which is extremely untrue. The particular section of logging that concerned the tribe was along the Situk River watershed.

In this particular issue the tribal council was concerned that salmon habitat would be adversely affected if the logging was going to continue in this area. The Situk River is the lifeblood of the community of Yakutat and it is our charge to protect it whenever we feel it is threatened. That's what the tribal council felt it was doing when it instigated the injunction.

The council authorized the law firm, Earth Justice, to represent us in this case and to deal with this issue only. This does not mean that logging is done in Yakutat.

Even prior to the lawsuit, the tribe was in the process of trying to get the Forest Service and the city and borough's Yakutat Salmon Board together to begin developing a Long Range Timber Management Plan for the Yakutat area and it's forelands.

The tribe is also in the process of renewing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Forest Service. This MOU has language in it that outlines the process of consultation and specifically details how an environmental assessment and environmental impact statement will be carried out. We also have an MOU with the city and borough of Yakutat; these MOUs tie us all together so that we can jointly work on issues such as these. With these three entities collaborating together, I would envision a management plan that would fit the entire community's best interest.

There will still be people in the community who do not want any type of timber development here, but that is not the feeling of the entire community, nor is it the feeling of the council.

To be called an "extreme" environments was uncalled for without first trying to understand where we were coming from.

I would welcome a chat with the governor; perhaps during this conversation we can come to a meeting of minds on how we can all work toward making our communities and our state a better place in which to live.

Bertrand J. Adams Sr.


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