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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Time for timber to face the harsh realities of their own making

By Hunter McIntosh


April 08, 2016
Friday AM

Viking Lumber and other southeast Alaska timber companies are threatening to close down unless they can continue cutting down old growth trees in the Tongass National Forest and other nearby forests. To which I say: Good riddance.

This is a shameless act of extortion by an industry that has had its way with our public lands for far too long. It s clear cutting of ecologically irreplaceable first-growth forests has been incredibly destructive, and not just to bears, salmon, birds, wolves, and other wildlife. Not to mention fully subsidized by the Federal Government (aka, our tax payer dollars), almost entirely for decades.

The tourism and fishing industries, neither of which receive a single penny in federal subsidies, employ far more Alaskans than the timber industry. Yet the timber trade group Southeast Conference claims that shutting down Viking and other mills would cost 150 jobs, but the fishing industry alone employs 10 times that many in boat Captains, deck crew, fish processors, packers, etc.

Salmon runs have been devastated by the reckless logging practices of these timber companies. That was one of many reasons why the U.S. Forest Service developed a plan to save some of the remaining old growth forests and transition logging efforts to second-growth trees.

It was a compromise plan. No one side got everything it wanted. Many conservation groups complained that the plan continued to allow logging on old-growth forests for years to come despite strong evidence that it threatened the viability of many endangered species. And neither the fishing, nor tourism industry was even invited to the table to begin with.

But now, while loggers continue to chainsaw magnificent 1,000 year old trees, the timber companies want to elicit public sympathies while going back on the deal. They have benefitted from vast public subsidies ($100 s of millions) from the beginning, hurting other industries in the process, and now they re crying about the gravy train ending?!?! Forgive me if I don t shed a tear as tourism took an enormous hit post September 11th with no help from the Federal Government, lasting roughly ten years. But we pulled up our boot straps, hunkered down and rebuilt the public trust in travelling a long distance from the lower 48.

The vast, untamed nature of Alaska has long allowed logging companies and other extractive industries to do as they please on our public lands. But the more we learn about our world, the more we understand the far-reaching impacts of clear cutting and other common industry practices.

As we adjust to a new world with a rapidly changing climate that will impact Alaska sooner and stronger than the rest of the country, we must adopt more sustainable practices and stop treating the bounty of Mother Nature as if it s an inexhaustible resource to exploit as we see fit.

And if Viking Lumber and other timber companies can t find a way to survive without continuing the exploitative practices of yester-year, then maybe it is time for them to shut their doors.

Hunter McIntosh, President/CEO
The Boat Company
Washington, D.C.

Received April 06, 2016 - Published April 08, 2016

About: "My family has operated a nature based eco-cruise tour operation in Southeast Alaska for 35+ years. The Boat Company has been working to protect what remains of the Tongass for future generations of Americans to visit."

The Boat Company has been operating nature based small ship cruise operations in Southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest for 36 years. They are the longest operating small ship operation in Southeast Alaska solely dedicated to nature based tourism.



Mid-sized sawmills face possible closures - Southeast Alaska’s last remaining mid-sized sawmill may close if the Forest Service forces a transition to young growth before the timber is of marketable size according to the Board of Directors of Southeast Conference. - Read more...
SitNews - March 30, 2016





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