This is in response to the My Turn column by Pat Veesart in the Oct. 16 edition concerning management of the Tongass National Forest. Pat uses fear tactics and name calling, ("the largest and wildest national forest ... hangs under a dark cloud and Steve 'never saw a road he didn't like' Brink, Region 10 interim Regional forester") in an attempt to falsely alarm the public. The people can see through this masquerade quite easily, Ms. Veesart. Mr. Brink is a top professional and returns to Alaska with the knowledge and expertise to manage the Tongass National Forest according to existing mandates, including the Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP), which went through many years of development, including unprecedented local public input. The Clinton Administration harpooned this process after it was signed into effect with a last-minute stroke of the pen initiating a roadless area policy in order to circumvent the TLMP process mandated by law.
It is high time we manage the Tongass National Forest by professionals according to the charter of the Forest Service and not by politics. Please note readers, the legislation Pat refers to, the Alaska Rain Forest Conservation Act, is sponsored by two East Coast representatives. Do you believe, for one second even, that they know what the best management practices for the Tongass are? No way. The local people be damned, it looks like to me.
We already have hundreds of thousands of acres removed and set aside in roadless wilderness that have been removed from the Tongass in years past. This fact seems to elude the ones who want it all. I welcome Steve Brink back to Alaska. It's about time we re-establish a professional leadership team to carry on with the wise use of our public land. I trust the decisions of experienced professionals who have the integrity to stand up and defend their decisions to the public and to the politicians.