SOUTH EAST ALASKA NATIVE LAND
ENTITLEMENT FINALIZATION ACT
By Hans Porter
February 03, 2010
Bill S. 881 "SOUTH EAST ALASKA NATIVE LAND ENTITLEMENT FINALIZATION
ACT" will lay waste to one of the most beautiful places
on this planet. The old growth forest with its amazing canopy
will be destroyed. The miles and miles of karst formation will
not be open to the public. Subsistence resources for several
communities will disappear. We will not be able to travel
by road. Our water supplies will be in danger or ruined. All
this for the short term revenues which will benefit no one but
Sealaska Corporation, will not create jobs, and will not provide
sustainable resources. It will be all damage and destruction
as is typical of this corporation's way of doing business.
This bill will further impact at least 3 communities as follows:
Roads: The bill states that
it provides for road access for subsistence and recreational
uses, it also notes that Sealaska will be able to eliminate
access for a myriad of purposes. These easement roads should
be kept open and maintained to promote tourism and private and
commercial travel to the northern end of Prince of Wales Island.
These roads must allow commercial access as that is how our
communities (Port Protection and Point Baker) receive propane
and other commercial items, travel for medical treatment, etc.
Use should not be restricted to subsistence and/or recreational
only with the provision of closing these roads when Sealaska
deems it necessary. Labouchere Bay should be kept open to the
public and vehicle parking be allowed to continue.
Potable Water Supply: The
proposed developmental area that is located behind Port Protection
(32, 33, 34, 27, 28, 29, 22, 21, 20, 16, 15, 8, 9, and 10) is
the source of the water supply to both Port Protection and a
smaller area known as Back Bay. The people in Back Bay have
hoses placed in creeks for water collection. Each one of these
areas, including numbers that may not be noted contain tributaries,
should be left untouched. There are also eagle nests in the
areas mentioned above. Our water comes from an unknown source,
travels through the limestone caves and emerges from the side
of a mountain where it is contained with a gravel cistern and
funneled into a catchment tank which provides year-round gravity
fed water to the entire village. Our village is one of the
few with fire hydrants available to every residence. In addition,
there are alarming rates of cancer on Prince of Wales Island
linked to logging / milling operations. Logging and fresh water
supplies do not mix.
Wild Sockeye Salmon: Proposed
areas 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 14, 15, 22, 23, 27, 26, 34, and 35, also
planned developmental land, is part of our watershed and an
essential migratory and subsistence area for wild sockeye salmon.
At a minimum it should be necessary to have an environmental
impact study in place prior to allowing commercial harvesting
of timber in these areas in particular.
Subsistence: Passage of this bill will eliminate our ability
to hunt, fish, gather firewood, pick berries as well as other
subsistence uses. Although the bill claims that residents will
still be able to use these lands for subsistence, Sealaska historically
finds reasons to close its land to private uses through one
means or another. It is a federal offense to use native corporation
land for subsistence activities as one lady in Klawock discovered
after accidentally picking wild berries on native land and was
prosecuted by the federal government for this activity.
The northern end of Prince of Wales Island has many SUSTAINABLE
economic opportunities from commercial berry picking through
land use permits to tourism. Per the Encyclopedia of Earth
"In addition, logging and extensive road building in
some ecological provinces (e.g., Prince of Wales Island northern
and southern provinces) will eliminate up to 70 percent of the
total old growth over the next 150 years. Projected logging
levels in old-growth systems are expected to result in significant
population declines in several species, including northern goshawk
(Accipiter gentilis laingi), Alexander Archipelago wolf (Canis
lupus ligoni), marten (Martes americana), northern flying squirrel
(Glaucomys sabrinus), brown bear, and some neotropical and resident
birds. In addition, well-drained karst terrain has been particularly
impacted by logging, as well as species rich <http://www.eoearth.org/article/Species_richness>
and riparian fringes (protected on national forests by narrow
(150-300 m) buffers). Village corporation lands (managed by
Native Alaskan corporations) have been particularly impacted
by extensive logging."
This bill has potential to cause a great deal of environmental
harm. It will limit non-native access to subsistence uses
whereas these areas are now accessible by all.
Port Protection, AK
Received February 02, 2009
- Published February 03, 2010
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