Emerald Bay Timber Sale Again
January 09, 2006
Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole recently signed the Emerald Bay Record of Decision in November, approving the harvest of approximately 16 million board feet of timber from 600 acres on the Cleveland Peninsula. According to the Forest Service, the proposed project which is located approximately 40 air miles north of Ketchikan within the Ketchikan-Misty Fiords Ranger District would provide nearly 90 jobs in Southeast Alaska.
The Cleveland Peninsula between Ketchikan and Wrangell is known for its richness of large mammals such as moose, mountain goats, wolverine, wolves, and brown and black bears, and also supports superb wild fisheries. In annoucing the appeal, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council said this area provides outstanding economic and local use opportunities and represents some of the best of Southeast Alaska's rich and rugged wild. The opportunities for adventure and independence are immense according to the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council which is a coalition of eighteen volunteer citizen conservation groups in fourteen communities across Southeast Alaska, from Ketchikan to Yakutat.
Mark Galla, owner of Alaska Peak & Seas, said, "As a guide, I have used the Cleveland Peninsula for almost two decades. I could do so for decades to come if the area is managed with respect. But establishing a road system in a rich watershed in order to lose millions of dollars logging old growth will eliminate the wilderness experience my customers have come to expect. My business, and others like it, will suffer as a result."
Beth Antonsen, a woodworker from Ketchikan, said, "A money-losing timber sale in an area that will impact sensitive wildlife species doesn't make sense. Logging plays a role in our Southeast Alaska economy, but some areas are too important for other economic and community uses to be logged."
"The Forest Service is closing popular recreation cabins due to lack of funds, yet it's pushing for a timber sale that will lose at least $1.5 million of taxpayer money. The demand for Southeast Alaska timber continues to decline because of global markets, while support for other forest uses is increasing every year," said Dave Sherman, Community Organizer with Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. "The agency's priorities don't reflect common sense or the needs of the communities it's supposed to serve."
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council said last August the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the Forest Service's Tongass Land Management Plan misrepresented economic data and unnecessarily doubled logging levels in the Tongass National Forest. Due to that substantial error, the court ordered the Forest Service to go back and fix the management plan. At the heart of the court's ruling was the Forest Service's failure to consider logging less of the remaining wild areas in the rainforest, such as Emerald Bay.
"This is the wrong timber sale, the wrong time, and the wrong place, concluded Sherman. The Forest Service needs to drop this sale and work on the court-ordered revision of the Tongass Land Management Plan. This revision gives the agency and the public a fantastic opportunity to create a plan that accounts for the growing demand for adventurous recreation and the changing market for Tongass timber, so that timber sales costing taxpayers millions and sacrificing diverse economic opportunities are a thing of the past."
Southeast Alaskan woodworker Beth Antonsen, big game guide Mark Galla, and Meyers Chuck residents and property owners Fabian and Evening Star Grutter, and Jacquelyne and Robert Hunley are appealing the Emerald Bay timber sale along with the Tongass Conservation Society, Sitka Conservation Society, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), Natural Resources Defense Council, The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace.
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