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out of lands in the area that were withdrawn by section 16 (a)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.
About: "Commercial Fisherman"
Received June 18, 2010 - Published
June 21, 2010
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