Can't get through the Forest Service matrix

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, November 24, 2006

Business owners and their families are gearing up for "round two" with the U.S. Forest Service.

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Yes, Alaska needs another draft plan that creates more paperwork to fill out, more reports to write and, of course, more fees because it looks good in the draft plan.

Apparently, the planners think Southeast Alaska and its communities have recovered phenomenally since the drastic decline in the timber industry that small-business owners now have "money growing on trees."

Alaska community members turn out in force, they write, plead, explain, attend "community meetings and public hearings," but still cannot get through to the bureaucrats trapped in the U.S. Forest Service matrix.

The government cannot and should not manage Alaska's national forests in the same manner as they manage the rest of the nation's forests. In this age of accepting and encouraging diversity, the government continues to use the outdated method of "cookie cutter" management.

The Forest Service plans on drastically raising commercial operations fees (some more than 480 percent) in the Tongass and Chugach National Forests.

Doing business and making a decent living in the Tongass National Forest is becoming harder and harder for "Ma and Pa" businesses due to over regulation and unjustified, outlandish fees forced on the people.

The Forest Service claims to be "business and community friendly." Its actions contradict its words.

I encourage all those businesses that are directly and indirectly involved in the visitor industry to contact Sen. Stevens, Sen. Murkowski and Rep. Young, as well as the U.S. Forest Service at Tongass National Forest, Federal Building, 648 Mission St., Ketchikan, AK, 99901, (907) 225-3101, or e-mail mjjones@fs.fed.us.

Wilma E. Leslie

Wrangell



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