SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Gravina Viewpoint Appreciated
By Gregory Vickery


March 06, 2007
Tuesday PM

Thanks for taking the time to write and to share your views. Although I do not expect us to agree while exchanging our thoughts, I would like to address a couple of your points, and share further our perspective.

1. You mention: "none of you thought to talk to any of us before you went and wrote all the scathing articles."

While I may not have spoken with you (I do not know who you are by sight), I spoke with others working on site, as did other individuals who made the trip. These trips occurred this winter as well as this past fall. When I visited the site with the Army Corps of Engineers staff in the fall, we also talked with folks on site.

2. You state: "I can tell you that all of us on that job treated the streams, land and animals with the utmost respect."

I am grateful you do what you can to take care of the land, under the circumstances given to you by your employers and the agencies that started construction without proper permits. I am also happy to hear that most of you clean up after yourselves. This does not, however, prevent erosion controls from being haphazard to non-existent, overburden from being cast aside from pits and onto wetlands, and debris left along embankments. We observed and photo-documented these issues, and the Corps and I visited the site in the fall and they acknowledge the existence of these problems as well.

3. You state: "That road will give countless people access to a place they wouldn t normally go."

You may not be aware of this, but the agencies involved now say the road will be closed after logging is complete. Although this is backtracking from original (and publicly stated) plans - and provides a justification, wrong or right, for the lack of permitting - it makes your statement inconsistent with the story now told by the State and Borough.

4. You mention: "Why don t you and your society give a truthful and fair account of what s going on over there? Why do you make it sound like logging is the evil of all evils?"

As we made clear in our article, the conditions have been photo-documented and observed by the Corps of Engineers as well as us. The conditions of the road and associated pits and the lack of permits are what they are. It is unfortunate that those agencies involved with road planning and design did not seek the proper permits or coordinate with the Corps of Engineers, and it is unfortunate for Gravina that construction has circumvented those protections inherent in the permitting process. In our article, we are talking about an illegal road with erosion problems, illegal pits with overburden in the waters of the US, and other associated road construction problems. We are not talking about logging. Our one concern with the logging activity - a concern that is independent of the concerns related to the road - is a query to ensure the activity stays within the state's boundaries and out of National Forest land. We are working separately with the Division of Forestry to make sur!
e any deviation from state lands does not occur.

5.You say: "Do you wipe your butt with paper? Do you live in a home built with wood? Where do you think those things come from? Give me a break here, these days there is so much red tape to do anything, do you think anyone can just go rape the land?"

Again, we are working to make an illegal road legal, and not dealing with the logging issue. And when the agencies involved with the Bostwick road circumvent the 'red tape' you mention, it becomes a suspect project. Photos show the problems associated with construction that proper permits - and the legal process - would have addressed via accountability and standardization. The Army Corps of Engineers staff who visited the Bostwick road verify this circumvention and documented the problems as well.

6.You state: "My children are growing up here and I m afraid that people like you and your society will make it so there is nothing for them here but a view."

We want more than a view, just like you. Here, we are on the same side of things. If you read our entire article, located at, you will read why we are speaking out, and you will read our solution for the Bostwick road issue. We encourage sustainable development and re-development, especially on the home island of Revilla; we believe in taking advantage of the opportunity provided by the expanding port at Prince Rupert; we promote economic diversity and the progress associated with it; we respect and encourage the Shipyard and the benefits it provides our community; we support the efforts of local small mill owners around Ketchikan and on Prince of Wales; we look forward to having more power available so one day the cruise ships may plug in and value-added industries may come and stay; we are working to create a regional recycling center here in Ketchikan that may provide up to 100 jobs; the list goes on and on. The long and short of it is this: TCS is a pro-active organization with a diverse membership and a common bond focused on seeing our community flourish in the 21st century. We are pleased to participate in the progress and enhancement of our collective quality of life.

7. You conclude: "It s really hard to by groceries without jobs, industry and progress. It is possible to strike a balance; you don t have to be on one side or the other. Maybe if you all tried to help bridge that gap we could all work together to responsibly log, fish and recreate instead of taking opportunities away from families like mine."

We work really hard to bridge the gap you mention via our pro-active methods. We will not allow circumvention of the law for roads and other development endeavors. But we will continue to converse and work with folks from all perspectives in order to define common ground and improve quality of life for all of us who live and work here. I enjoy working with chambers of commerce, the folks at the Shipyard, fishermen and women, cultural and traditional users, small business owners, and local mill owners. Our membership demands that we work together with others as often as we can. TCS believes we must be as collaborative as possible on a personal level to get things done that help our community. And that is why I appreciate hearing from you.

Please feel free to contact me again with thoughts or questions.

Take care,

Gregory Vickery
Ketchikan, AK

Received March 05, 2007 - Published March 06, 2007

About: " Gregory Vickrey is the director of the Tongass Conservation Society and is a good friend of Gravina."




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