SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Sealaska's Land Bill: Mediation to Nowhere
By Alan Stein


April 14, 2010

On April 19th at Douglas Library across from Juneau, a mediation will most likely occur between Sealaska Corporation on one side and three green groups on the other. Mediating will be Bruce Bothello, mayor of Juneau.

Alaskans are at loggerheads over Sealaska's Land Bill. Will Bothello's brain storm rescue the day?

Juneau is 150 miles from the nearest point on Prince of Wales Island which Sealaska has targeted for its land grab

Absent from Douglas Library will be the communities on Prince of Wales that will have their economies degraded if S 881 passes.

jpg PTB to Shakan Bay from 10 point 79 miles up

PTB to Shakan Bay from 10 point 79 miles up
Click on the map for a larger view.

Absent will be elected representatives of Port Protection. Edna Bay, Point Baker, Naukati, Hollis, Cape Pole and most likely Thorne Bay.

Absent will be the press.

Absent will be the public.

In this age of open public process, how can a few self appointed green groups think they can somehow represent the true interests of these communities or bargin for their positions?

Let us call this mediation for what it is--- hubris gone hog wild.

Why should the public at large-- including guides and sportsmen-- have faith that these green groups will represent their interests?

Maybe the greens will try to grab land of their own with a deal to lock up more wilderness or will make trade offs for land on Kosciusku Island, Polk Inlet, Red Bay, Enterprise Creek, or Hobart Bay?

How can they be trusted to deny the 200 salmon stream sites Sealaska seeks to grab that are disguised as cultural heritage site in the bill?

Why should public land be subject to deals that these groups make?--- For my little birdie tells me it will be ACF, Alaskawild, and SEACC that will be at the table. How do we know that trade offs made now will benefit or harm communities latter?

How can these green groups be trusted to insure that Sealaska selects land that was given to it under ANCSA but has never been logged for instance, the 76,600 acres at Yakutat? Yakutat is the home of the Chairman of the Board of Sealaska.

On June 10th, 2008, Sealaska did ask BLM to select Yakutat and areas within the 1971 boundaries, but then delayed the process hoping it could hood wink Congress into giving it lands that were more valuable. The time to process Sealaska's 2008 request is long over due.

All the other native villages have been heavily impacted by massive moonscape logging, not Yakutat.

If equal means sharing the pain, then by rights Yakutat should be logged instead of placing all of the impacts onto Hoonah, Kake, and Hydaburg and Klawock.

Will Byron Mallot agree to share the pain other villages experienced by having Congress pass a revocation of the 1979 ANCSA amendment that requires trading Yakutat for land in the rest of the Tongass? Isn't this what equal means?

In my 40 years of working to make the Tongass a place that satisfies the needs of all Americans long into the future, I have never seen such a disgraceful dodge of the responsibility to determine the fate of the Tongass in public. Let us hope there is time to head off the mediation at Douglas Library.

For those persisting on mediation, everyone should be aware that no one can represent Prince of Wales who has not been elected by Prince of Wales. While Albert Kookesh is POW's State Senator, I don't think there will be agreement about letting him represent the island given his pending trial for fishing and ethics violations to say nothing of his having a conflict of interest as Chairman of the Sealaska Board.

The notion of collaborating with those whose interests are fully at odds is as reachable as the Aquarian Age. When there is a loggerhead as large as that which exists over S 881, it is time to let the bill die.

Alan Stein
Mendocino, CA

About: "Alan Stein was the Director of the Salmon Bay Protective Association and an Alaska commercial fisherman."

Received April 13, 2010 - Published April 14, 2010



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