A fair chance

Posted: Monday, October 22, 2001

I feel compelled to answer Mr. Davidson's (Southeast Alaska Conservation Council) question about "professional" management of the Tongass National Forest. No, Mr. Davidson, I do not support 50-year guaranteed timber contracts, haphazard logging of watersheds and ignoring impacts on fisheries, wildlife and communities as you seem to suggest. What I am referring to is acting Regional Forester Steve Brink will provide professional leadership and management of the national forests in Alaska in the form of education and experience along with his team of hydrologists, fish-wildlife, timber resource and other personnel.

Together with local community input, decisions to arrive at sound management practices for the wise use (conservation) of our resources for the public good and minimal disturbance to the renewable environment can be achieved. I'm sure you are aware the subsidies to prepare timber sales you mentioned resulted, in no small way, from delays due to lawsuits from organizations such as yours to timber sales already prepared and ready for sale. The reason I'm saying this is the need to allow local professional land managers to make informed decisions and implement plans without interference from the current and ever-changing political climates. Managing public resources in a wise way demands long-term planning and execution. It cannot be managed effectively when decisions made from years of study and planning are turned upside down every four or eight years depending upon the politically correct whims of the times or by endless lawsuits.

I'm sure there is a way to provide local small-scale operators with economical opportunities along existing roadways. In my view, the larger operators deserve the same treatment, possibly in areas that contain no roads now but will have some roads established for future small, local operations and for public access and recreation. I join you in wishing Mr. Brink good luck, although I believe luck has no part in the decision or implementation process unless it's confined to you giving Mr. Brink a fair chance. I hope so.

Larry Knecht


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