Assembly snubs Tongass roadless plan
JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly passed an amended resolution Monday urging land planning management for the Tongass National forest be conducted via the Tongass Land Management Plan. The original resolution contained the phrase "and not through the national roadless area," which was removed by assembly member Jim Powell.
The U.S. Forest Service completed an environmental impact statement in November that includes a proposed ban on logging in roadless areas of the Tongass. A final decision on the proposal by the Forest Service and federal Department of Agriculture is expected this month.
"The Tongass Land Management (Plan) comes from a process that's been going on for 10 years," Powell said. "Agreements were struck, and that's what we're sticking with."
In testimony before the assembly, Southeast Conference Executive Director Loren Gerhardt said imposition of the roadless plan would cut timber harvest in the Tongass by two-thirds and create difficulties, primarily for small timber operations. "The pulp mills and multinationals are gone," he said.
Gerhardt cited other communities in Southeast such as Ketchikan that have already endorsed similar resolutions.
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council spokesman Matthew Davidson told assembly members passing the resolution would run counter to sentiments expressed by Juneau residents at public hearings on the roadless issue last summer. "This is clearly against the wishes of a large number of Juneauites," he said. "Over 90 percent testified in favor of the roadless policy." The real issue, said Davidson, is that there's plenty of timber on the existing road system.
Gerhardt questioned whether residents testifying at public hearings really represent public opinion. "I don't think you can count on that," he said.
The resolution endorsing the Tongass management plan and ignoring the National Roadless Area Review passed the assembly unanimously.
Diver charged with attempted murder
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JUNEAU - Alaska State Troopers say a geoduck diver tried to murder another diver near Craig.
On Dec. 8, Alaska State Troopers received a report of a fight between two commercial fishermen near Craig. The men had been in an ongoing dispute over fishing regulations about the giant clams that fetch high prices in the Orient. The men disputed in particular how close one boat could be to another on the fishing grounds, according to a trooper press release.
At about 11 a.m. that day, Rodney D. Garnick, 40, of Bend, Ore., attacked Richard L. Summers, 46, of Craig, troopers said. Both men were in about 45 feet of water and breathing through surface support air hoses at the time. Troopers said Garnick punched Summers, partially dislodged his face mask, and pinched off his air hoses. Garnish also took some fishing equipment from Summers by force and attempted to hit Summers with it, the release said.
Garnick was charged with attempted murder, first-degree robbery and third-degree assault.
New labor standards chief appointed
JUNEAU - Gov. Tony Knowles has appointed Richard Mastriano as director of the Division of Labor Standards and Safety, citing his experience in the public and private sector,.
A current employee of the division, Mastriano succeeds Al Dwyer, who recently retired after nearly 20 years with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. "Rich Mastriano's work in the Labor Standards and Safety division and strong background in the construction industry give him a thorough understanding of the concerns of both management and labor," Knowles said in a news release.
Mastriano, 58, brings more than 20 years of experience as a contractor and 11 years of experience with Labor Standards and Safety, most recently as a wage and hour investigator. His duties included enforcing employment practices and working conditions, Alaska statutes and regulations pertaining to child labor.
He will earn approximately $75,000 a year.
AIDEA plans to pay dividend
ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority plans to pay a $17.5 million dividend to the state treasury next year based on its fiscal 2000 profit of $35.6 million.
The state agency is a key source of business loans and development funding, from small projects to multimillion-dollar efforts.
Since 1996, the agency has turned over 25 percent to 50 percent of its profits to the state general fund. Since then, the agency's board has authorized $109 million in dividends, AIDEA said.
Native corporation to end Cube Cove logging
PETERSBURG - After 20 years of logging at Cube Cove on Admiralty Island, the Shee Atika Native corporation plans to halt logging operations and sell the property back to the federal government.
Shee Atika, based in Sitka, has clearcut about 20 million board feet of timber yearly at Cube Cove but is discouraged by weak timber markets. The 23,000-acre property shares a 100-mile boundary with the Admiralty Island National Monument. Cube Cove is the last remaining large piece of private land adjacent to the monument.
The agency is interested in acquiring lands adjacent to national forests, said Forest Service spokeswoman Beth Pendleton. Shee Atika owns the surface rights to the property while Juneau-based Sealaska Corp. owns the subsurface rights. Pendleton said discussions are in the early stages with the two companies and a deal could be reached by next spring.
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