SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


S 881
By Judy Magnuson


June 21, 2010

We are still waiting to see the new revised S 881 bill, hopefully we will have enough time to adequately assess the new impacts of this legislation on the communities of Southeast. From what we have heard so far I feel that the new bill will not be any different than the last one, places will have been moved around effecting different communities more and others less, but the main objections to this bill will remain the same. Sealaska will still be given millions of dollars of infrastructure paid for at the taxpayers expense, in essence a bail -out of a private corporation by the taxpayers because of their own failure to properly utilize the land they were originally given. The second growth alone cost the taxpayers $10 million in thinning on the 20,721 acres of young growth, plus costs of roads, log transfer facilities, bridges, decades of maintenance, costs of planning, studies, loss of 184 acres with established long term research plots, and loss of 7,359 Geological Special Areas.

Now a whole new resource is rumored to be thrown into the bill -- the giving away to a private corporation valuable energy resources that should be held for the public, for the publics benefit, not given to a private corporation at the publics expense. If something of this nature is given away it should not be in a direct exchange of land as equal value. It is interesting that one of the main reasons Sealaska gives for this exchange is because they were short changed originally and forced to take inadequate lands. This is not backed up by any documentation just by their say-so.

If Sealaska had a problem with the lands given to them they should have said so 35 years ago when they had ANCSA Amended by Congress. Addressing the problems of land selection at that time there was nothing said about wanting other lands. The documentation seems to point totally in the opposite direction. In 1975 Sealaska President John Borbridge asked Congress for an Amendment to ANCSA, stating, We would greatly prefer to satisfy our rights out of lands in the area that were withdrawn by section 16 (a) for the ten villages in the southeast region . The reason given at this time was that they contained good timber land but also because lands conveyed in the areas could be combined with lands conveyed to the village corporations to form better management and economic units.

It is wrong for Minority staff members along with special interest groups, such as the Tongass Futures Roundtable members to be forming Forest Policy based on political reasons, making decisions to provide inadequate Old Growth Reserves and fisheries habitat protection in exchange for valuable lands. Where are the biologists, fish and game experts, geologists and other experts that make up the Forest Service and other agencies in charge of our Public National Forest in these talks and decision making? Why does Senator Murkowski and her staff feel that they should be the ones to negotiate a land give away when we have an agency already set up with the knowledge to know what is in the best interest of the public , the present owners of this land. There is already a process set up in ANCSA by which Sealaska can exchange land without a bill through Congress, but the land exchanges need to be based on equal value and the public interest, and that is not what Sealaska wants.

Judy Magnuson
Port Protection

About: "Commercial Fisherman"

Received June 18, 2010 - Published June 21, 2010


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Ketchikan, Alaska