Logjam: Give Peace a Chance
By Lindsey Ketchel
September 08, 2009
The Tongass is the foundation of Southeast Alaska's culture,
communities and economy, so we owe it to our fellow and future
Southeast Alaskans to work together to keep all three thriving.
Most Southeast residents believe we can balance jobs and the
environment, as long as we get over our past battles. They're
also skeptical that either side will ever be able to get over
But we don't have a choice.
For over two years there has been progress between the timber
industry, conservation groups and other Tongass stakeholders
through the Tongass Futures Roundtable and various spin-off conversations.
Through these discussions, many of us now realize what many
of you have felt for some time: we're all in this forest together,
and we need to start acting like it if we want to pass on all
that we love about this place to our children and grandchildren.
Instead of leaving the future of our forests up to someone else
to decide, many folks are trying hard to work together as neighbors
instead of adversaries to find workable solutions.
Fighting and blaming each other wastes resources, time, and energy,
and it keeps us from seeing ways forward that might bring each
side a lot closer to what they need. In the case of the Logjam
timber sale on Prince of Wales Island, a good start to meeting
both sides' needs is already on the table.
It may not be perfect, but the proposal
submitted by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Audubon
Alaska, and the Alaska Wilderness League during the initial public
process, and again during the subsequent appeal process, is a
good faith attempt to find common ground, provide significant
jobs, and conserve important fish and wildlife resources on Prince
It offers over 37 million board feet of timber. That's over half
of what the Forest Service proposed initially and in its most
recent decision. This balance could preserve critical wildlife
corridors and still supply around two years of timber for Viking
Lumber or a similar mill. I strongly recommend everyone read
decision and the various appeal proposals on the Forest Service
The Forest Service can still restructure its decision to better
incorporate the diverse demands on the forest on Prince of Wales
Island and begin to undo the all-or-nothing mindset that has
plagued Tongass land discussions for years.
Last year, SEACC, the Sitka Conservation Society and the Forest
Service successfully struck a balance between conservation, community,
and local industry needs with the Iyouktug timber sale outside
Hoonah. Continuing those efforts with Logjam and future sales
could bring more certainty for everyone who counts on the Tongass.
After forty years of fighting, many Southeast Alaskans are justifiably
skeptical old adversaries can really change. But after two years
talking to one another, some on both sides are beginning to realize
that each have legitimate needs that deserve respect and consideration.
There will always be disagreements, but those of us willing
to reach across the table and open up our minds recognize that
helping meet our neighbors' needs can help us meet our own.
So let's hope the Forest Service doesn't give up on the Alaskans
who are working together. Finding a balanced resolution to Logjam
now would be a great step.
We all love this place and choose to make our homes here-and
we all need a healthy forest to make that happen. There will
always be points of contention with a forest that provides so
much for so many, but we must not let those differences prevent
us from finding the common ground that can move everyone closer
to getting what they need from the Tongass.
In short, let's give peace a chance.
Visit www.seacc.org to learn
about our Wild Idea for balancing Tongass forest management.
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council executive director
Received September 05, 2009
- Published September 08, 2009
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