SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Open letter to Senator Bingaman: Sealaska Bill
By Alan Stein


January 28, 2010
Thursday PM

Dear Senator Bingaman,

I submitted testimony for the record when the committee you chair heard the bill Senators Murkowski and Begich introduced re handing over Federal Land on Prince of Wales Island to Sealaska Corp, a private interest.

Over my many decades in Alaska, I both lived on Prince of Wales and fished in the waters surrounding it. I hiked its mountains and fished in its streams. I shot geese, ducks, and deer there and homesteaded on its shores. My son was born and raised on the island.

In addition, I headed the largest commercial fisherman's organization in Alaska dedicated to protecting salmon streams. With my old friend and associate Chuck Zieske, I spearheaded an effort that led to passage of the National Forrest Management Act in 1976.

I am damn well opposed to Sealaska getting any federal lands transfered to its private ownership. My bones tell me it is wrong to pander to their entreaties.

Sealaska despoiled its lands.

Denuded mountain sides are bad for all of us.

Nothing they did was sustainable. They export the timber robbing Americans of jobs.

Nor, considering the recent actions of its Board Member, Albert Kookesh, is there much hope that things will get better in the future. Kookesh made it sound as though he was selling brill cream to teenagers. Kookesh is the guy who appeared to my ears to be threatening the City of Craig with a cut off in funds in the Alaska State Legislature if they did not endorse Sealaska's bill. A move he made in his own private interest apparently.

This brazen public threat by a law maker cannot be condoned, it will not be condoned, and Congress should not condone it by considering this bill any further. Not now and certainly not in an election year. You simply cannot reward Sealaska by allowing the bill to pass through your committee. .

I urge you to stand tall and block this bill and tell Senators Murkowski and Begich they are backing the wrong horse. Please do not let this bill leave your committee. It deserves to be trashed.

Alan Stein
Mendocino, CA


Received January 27, 2009 - Published January 28, 2010



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