Good luck, Mr. Brink

Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2001

In his letter, "Welcome Brink Back," Larry Knecht misses the point regarding the return of Steve Brink to the Tongass. Is the "professional" management Mr. Knecht speaks of guaranteed 50-year timber contracts for multinational pulp corporations? Thirty million dollar annual subsidies to plan timber sales? Logging watersheds and ignoring the impact on fisheries, wildlife and communities? All of these are the legacy of the Tongass timber program.

Mr. Brink's return is the only latest step backward to the bad old days of Tongass management: timber industry lobbyist, Mark Rey is overseeing the Forest Service, the locally supported 1999 Tongass Land Management Plan was not defended in court by the Forest Service against a timber industry lawsuit, and planning for clearcuts continues in important community use areas. Yes, I'm looking forward to balanced, community-based management of the Tongass.

If Mr. Brink is going to wrestle control from the timber industry and do what is best for the forest and local communities, I have a few suggestions. Mr. Brink can plan more small timber sales on the existing road system to minimize cost and maximize benefits to small-scale operators, involve local communities through collaborative stewardship processes early in planning to safeguard important subsistence; recreation; hunting and fishing; and habitat areas, stop authorizing the round log export of trees and jobs from the Tongass (25 million board feet in 2000), and cease planning timber sales in areas under review for wilderness protection.

The return of Brink makes these forward steps unlikely. Heck, I'm willing to be surprised. Brink, if you can wrestle the controls from the Alaska congressional delegation and timber industry good luck

Matthew Davidson, Juneau

Southeast Alaska Conservation Council

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