May 02, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - On Monday, May 1, 2006, the Tongass Conservation Society submitted comments to the U.S. Forest Service strongly opposing the sale of public lands in order to fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, a proposal put forth by the Bush Administration.
The Forest Service failed to consider the high cultural, recreational, and historical values of these places before labeling them ready for potential sale. Local governments, private landowners, subsistence users, and conservation organizations were not given an opportunity to participate in the selection of parcels, said Gregory Vickrey the Executive Director of TCS.
Within the Tongass National Forest, 96+ acres are slated for sale should this proposal move forward. To highlight the significance of some of these parcels, Tongass Conservation Society points out the following:
Shakan Strait, Prince of Wales Island
This proposed land sale lies
east of Hamilton Island in Shakan Strait, in close proximity
to the Nutkwa area, lands Congress designated for long-term protection
in the Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990. There are native graves
as well as petroglyphs on an island across the channel. The native
ghost town of Shakan lies in the immediate vicinity. Private
ownership of this land would increase traffic through the passage,
potentially impacting the important cultural sites in the area.
The 6-acre proposed sale was
an old homestead turned over to the Forest Service in the 1930s
for recreation. A picnic shelter still stands on this property,
a historic remnant from the Depression era. In 2003 the City
and Borough of Juneau, with assistance from the Southeast Alaska
Land Trust and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, purchased 147
acres of land surrounding the proposed sale for community recreation
in this popular area.
The proposed land sale consists
of two small islands and the tip of Point Macartney on the northwest
side of Kupreanof Island. Tlingits historically maintained a
fort on a small, treeless island off of Kupreanof, to guard the
village of Kake. This land has significant historical and cultural
values to the village of Kake and communities of Southeast Alaska.
Source of News:
Publish A Letter on SitNews Read Letters/Opinions