Kake: Have your forest and
eat it too?
Community Alternative to timber
sale balances community and agency needs
By Sarah Campen
June 18, 2009
Whether it's fish, game, serenity, or jobs, properly managed
forests in Southeast Alaska can provide us what we need on many
levels. In communities like Kake, struggling against high unemployment
and high costs of living, meeting local needs with local resources
just makes sense. That's exactly what Kake residents and the
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council proposed through the Kake
Community Alternative to the upcoming Central Kupreanof timer
In January, the Forest Service released the Draft Environmental
Impact Statement (DEIS) for the sale, near Kake. The document
includes three action alternatives. The Forest Service's preferred
alternative is a large timber sale designed to meet the agency's
stated purpose and need. Unfortunately, it does not meet Kake's
community needs. The Kake Community Alternative meets both agency
and community needs.
Residents liked some parts of the agency's project alternatives,
especially the forest stewardship opportunities, but many are
concerned about negative environmental and economic impacts of
more large-scale logging in their area. They depend on the forest
for resources other than timber, and see this project as an opportunity
to enhance those other resources and uses.
Kake's concerns are nothing new, and it's not just Kake that
needs more from its back yard. Last year, similar conversations
in Hoonah led to the Hoonah Community Forest Plan <http://www.seacc.org/programs-and-projects/hoonah-community-forest-project>
which outlines the areas around Hoonah best suited for conservation,
restoration and logging. That plan led to SEACC and the Forest
Service's collaborative success <http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/082108/sta_321421324.shtml>
restructuring the Iyouktug timber sale to better meet Hoonah's
Hoping to replicate Hoonah's success, we designed the Kake Community
Alternative to emphasize parts of the Forest Service document
residents liked, modify portions they didn't like, and add some
new ideas to make this project a long-term management plan the
community can build on.
Tough times facing Kake residents mean many depend almost as
much on subsistence resources now as they did generations ago,
before years of industrial logging began around the village.
There is widespread concern that more large timber sales in
the area will further reduce wildlife habitat and deplete fish
and wildlife populations.
To address this concern, we expanded on the Forest Service's
lead (in Alternative 4 of the DEIS) and limited logging to already
roaded areas. Staying out of roadless areas reduces habitat
destruction, deer mortality from wolf predation, problems with
crossing salmon streams, and costly road maintenance.
The Community Alternative also proposes to scale and schedule
the timber sale in a way that allows small locally-owned mills
in Kake to compete for the trees. Past experience taught residents
that outsider logging operations hire minimal numbers of locals,
for minimal amounts of time. By limiting sales from the project
to 200,000 board feet per year, the Community Alternative allows
Kake's local sawmills to compete for local timber. This keeps
logging and processing jobs in town, ensures a long-term supply
of timber that meets or exceeds projected demand from Kake's
mills, and creates opportunity to grow a prosperous sustainable
forest products industry in Kake.
The Kake Community Alternative also looks beyond timber to ways
the Central Kupreanof project can support subsistence and other
economic forest product uses. It proposes cultivating forest
products like wild berries in gap cuts and mixing thinning by-product
and fish waste into fertilizer. The Alternative outlines forest
restoration contracting opportunities including road repair,
maintenance and decommissioning, pre-commercial forest thinning,
and blocked fish culvert replacement-all of which could be significant
Throughout the Tongass, the forests, fish, wildlife and wild
places give us what we need to maintain and expand the independent
quality of life we all enjoy as Southeast Alaskans. In Kake,
the Forest Service has an opportunity to help the community help
itself by putting local people to work using a variety of local
forest resources. We appreciate Kake and the Forest Service's
help with this project. We hope the Forest Service will incorporate
the Kake Community Alternative into its decision and use it as
a template for managing public lands around Kake. That way,
Kake may, forgive me, have its forest and eat it too.
About: Sarah Campen was raised
in Sitka and on Killisnoo Island near Angoon. She currently
lives in Juneau and works as a community organizer for the Southeast
Alaska Conservation Council.
Received June 18, 2008 - Published
June 18, 2009
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