By Bob Claus
August 20, 2012
To the editor:
Tom Boutin, a forester and logging engineer with over 40 years of experience, recently wrote an op-ed opposing Ballot Measure 2, the Coastal Zone Management proposal.
I disagree. Local control of our coastal areas, vital for salmon production, traditional and customary use, and our tourism and recreation industries, is the key to our future economic growth. Our Southeast Alaska lifestyle, admired and adopted for a time by our visitors, depends on our ability to set and maintain local priorities. These priorities include healthy food from wild sources. Local control is the best option for maintaining these food sources vital to our culture.
Local input and control is necessary to identify those places used by people, now and in the past, for the non-destructive ecosystem services like fish, deer and other wildlife habitat, like the coastal groves that provide shelter and natural harbors for working fishermen, and like those “scenic and aesthetic” values, mocked by Mr. Boutin, that are the reason that we have all chosen to live here.
Mr. Boutin admirably summarizes the hubris of the old-school forester: “We believe that every forest value and benefit can be achieved through active forest management.” Really? The public lands of our forests are not some engineering problem to be solved for maximum profit of a few investors. This argument for active management disregards the last 40 years of ecosystem science. Human intervention at the industrial scale in the forest is detrimental to forest health, not beneficial. Active management of the forest has been an ecological disaster for the Tongass. It is time we Alaskans catch up with the ecological sciences, stop regarding the forest as a profit center, and begin viewing the Forest as an ecosystem that supports our communities as a whole.
Mr. Boutin’s argument against Ballot Measure 2 is flawed by his rejection of anything but an industrial perspective. I support Ballot Measure 2 as a fundamentally conservative effort to return local resources to local control.
(This opinion is my own and does not necessarily reflect that of my employer or any group I am associated with.)
About: Bob Claus is a Forest Program Director with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.
Received August 17, 2012 - Published August 20, 2012
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