I'd like to publicly thank Senator Stevens for his vote for the Harkin amendment protecting overtime pay for the working class of America and Alaska. I'm sure the senator took into account the thousands of people who called and wrote to him regarding this very important subject. I, for one, know that I submitted comments and phone calls long before the vote was to take place. After all, we have a government that does not function in a vacuum.
It is with this in mind that I'm befuddled by the rider introduced on the Interior Appropriations bill (S.1391) establishing a 30-day statute of limitations on challenging timber sales only in Alaska! Thirty days after the Forest Service issues a record of decision approving a timber sale is simply too short a time to do adequate research and "get one's ducks in a row." Picture this scenario: ROD released June 1 and you have 30 days to scrutinize and respond to the extensive data. In the meantime the Kings are running, you need to get firewood for next winter, kids are graduating, visitor/tourist season is gearing up, get the boat ready (number one on the list) and on and on. But WAIT! Put everything on hold, especially if the timber sale is in your front yard or back yard as the case may be, or affects your watershed, property value, or livelihood if you're a lodge owner who relies on the "wilderness" experience to make a living.
The Forest Service just gave all Tongass timber sale holders an additional three-year extension on their contracts, because of poor global market conditions. So what's the problem? Why, Senator Stevens, are you wishing to ramrod this piece of legislation? What or who are you afraid of? That we Alaskans will continue to partake in this great experiment called democracy? Consider, Senator Stevens, the words of W.E.B. DuBois: "Honest men may and must criticize America." At least give us the same time frame afforded the other states for partaking in democracy.
Susan E. Walsh
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