By Florian Sever
April 28, 2011
Sealaska Corporation is due to receive yet another allotment of land, separate and apart from the land that Sealaska is trying to get through the Sealaska Lands Bill. Sealaska has asked the BLM for 11 acres of land surrounding the falls where Lake Redoubt drains into Redoubt Bay, near Sitka. The falls are a popular site for subsistence fishing for sockeye salmon. Many people in Sitka rely on this fishery for a part of their livelihood. I question what Sealaska shareholders have to gain from the proposed conveyance of 11 acres of Forest Service land at Redoubt Falls into private Sealaska Corporation hands.
If Sealaska leaves the land in its present state and the public is granted full access, it seems as though shareholders would gain nothing from the conveyance aside from the satisfaction of knowing they hold title. I accept this is as a fair reason for shareholders to want the land, particularly if it is of historic cultural significance, which the Forest Service disputes.
I have much more trouble seeing how shareholders would benefit from a conveyance if Sealaska did not permit public access to the land, or if Sealaska sought to develop it. Prohibiting the existing public use for subsistence fishing would only result in hard feelings and animosity toward the corporation. The animosity would be even greater if Sealaska developed the property and the site was altered forever. The economic benefit to each shareholder from such development would be miniscule compared to what would be lost.
Sealaska has been unclear in its intentions for the Redoubt Falls site, but I am hopeful the corporate board is giving full consideration to what shareholders and the public have to gain from future uses of the site.
Received April 26, 2011 - Published April 28, 2011
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