Exploiting Tongass would be criminal

Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I write as a longtime resident of Southeast Alaska to oppose Rep. Don Young's agency for Sealaska Corp. by means of House Resolution 3560, which would open many of the richest remaining protected areas in the Tongass National Forest to commercial exploitation.

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These designated special areas include places agreed to in the lead up to and enactment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, or designated as wilderness in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, or agreed to in the Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990, after years of negotiation by good-faith conservationists and Forest Service representatives.

There is, in other words, a long history of protective designations of selected special areas that were arrived at in legal and administrative processes and intricate negotiations following joint field studies.

All of this history, all of these enactments, negotiations, and good-faith legal and administrative agreements are thrown into a bargain-basement hopper by Young's bill. The balances between corporate commercial development and traditional subsistence life go one way in this design: to the corporate cherry-pickers. This has happened before; ask the folks in Hoonah.

To cleave through all of the interests involved in the cultural and economic and esthetic and resource-utilization melange of Southeast Alaska with such a blunt instrument would be a criminal act -- not an act of law. As for the healthy biological base of our Southeast life, write off the living beauty, the lonely coves and the quiet places.

William E. Brown


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