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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Support For Ballot Measure 2
By Eric Muench


August 13, 2012
Monday PM

I object to the title and to much of the content of the Ketchikan Daily News August 4 Point of View article from Tom Boutin of the Juneau Chapter of the Society of American Foresters. It proclaimed foresters say no to Ballot Measure 2 . As a forester with nearly 50 years experience in Alaska I want to say that he does not speak for all foresters. The local Dixon Entrance Chapter, of which I am a member, and as far as I know, the other three Alaska chapters of the Society, have not taken a position on Ballot Measure 2. Privately I take a completely different position.

Mr. Boutin does make a few good points. The scenic and aesthetic enjoyment language is troubling and a timely consistency determination requirement needs to be added. Also, upper boundaries of the coastal zone need to be refined and made logical. These and other tweaks can be accomplished when regulations are written to carry out the initiative once it becomes law.

TV ads that claim the initiative is equivalent to a blank check because regulations have not yet been written are a disingenuous distraction. Regulations are always written and reviewed by the public and legislature after a law is approved; it cannot be done until a law is in existence. In this case it has not been done because, as detractors would like us to forget, the legislature and governor did not do the job they were elected to do. Between them, they made sure that a successful program giving the State and local communities standing in federal decision making came to an end. Because of their inaction the choice now is: Ballot Measure 2 or no Alaska Coastal Management Program at all.

That choice should be clear. Small projects and small companies benefit from the more streamlined permitting process made possible by the coastal management process. Very large corporations with large staffs, legal teams and lobbyists may not need that help. They also enjoy enhanced influence with State and federal officials that others can only dream of. So they and the governor favor a top-down approach to land and water management. Local governments should just shut up and put up with whatever a pro-development Murkowski or a pro-environmentalist Knowles administration decides to do with our land.

I have seen advantages the Alaska Coastal Management Program provides. Individuals, communities and relatively small timber operations have benefited from the past program without anyone being able to veto projects they don t favor. We should not lose State and local influence on account of legislative paralysis, the present governor s short-sightedness and the wishes of out-of-state corporations.

Eric Muench
Ketchikan, AK

About: "I am a retired forester who spent much of my working life in Alaska working in forestry and on permitting of coastal facilities for timber operations"

Received August 11, 2012 - Published August 13, 2012

Related Opinion:

Alaska Society of American Foresters, Juneau Chapter opposes Ballot Measure 2


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Ketchikan, Alaska