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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Deer Mountain

By Norbert Chaudhary


September 06, 2016
Tuesday PM

It's a bit of a stretch to use the popularity of the Lumberjack Show as justification to continue outdated practices of the past and to log Deer Mountain - as was recently written in a letter supporting Mental Health's ultimatum. Using that same logic, Dolly's House is quite popular so why not bring back prostitution? After all, along with clear cut logging, Ketchikan's Red Light District provided jobs and was once a major contributor to our local economy. But of course we have moved on in our growth as a community and as a state. Or have we?

The mentality of the Mental Health Land Trust Board and those who are influencing them appears to be stuck back in the time period before we understood the impact we were having on the land we live in. They are attempting to turn this Deer Mountain logging debacle into a polarizing referendum on logging practices throughout Alaska. Well if that's the way they want to frame this debate, then so be it.

These folks talk as if they are the saviors of a forest resource economy when in fact they are enabling an industry dependent on Government assistance. What seemed to be viable yesterday was never truly sustainable and is not economically sound today. That Mental Health is down to this last stand of timber on Deer Mountain indicates gross mismanaged the lands they were entrusted to. The fear and bullying tactics pushed by the few who benefit from logging on public lands is deplorable. And the scared silence from most of our elected leaders and those in our community who know better is sad proof that these tactics remain effective.

Once upon a time Alaskans took bold steps forward for Alaska's future. By outlawing salmon fish traps and the destructive unsustainable fishing practices of the past, we created a permanent, sustainably managed salmon fishing resource industry that provides many Alaskan jobs and will continue to do so indefinitely. We can - and must do this today with our state timber lands.

The era of tax payer subsidized, destructive industrial clear cuts on state and federal lands must now be part of our past. Exporting Alaskan round logs overseas only to then import finished manufactured wood products from these distant countries is taking us rapidly down the road to Third World status.

We need fundamental changes in the way we utilize our timber resources in this state and we need this to happen immediately. Other First World countries have long ago learned these lessons and have sustainable, value added timber industries that provide high wage employment to many people, from harvesting to the sale of finished products.

We are at a pivotal point in the history of the State of Alaska. Relying on the export of raw resources has brought us to the brink of financial collapse. Rather than encouraging this backward behavior we need Alaskans who have the foresight to realize that the future of Alaska depends on decisions we make right now.

Let's ask our leaders to take a step forward for the future of our state and pass a law to end the export of round logs harvested on state lands. We need to encourage the creation and growth of a local wood products manufacturing base right here in Alaska.
Rather than throwing good money after bad in support of an obsolete business model, let's use tax incentives, provide support and encouragement and move our Great Land into an even greater tomorrow.

Deer Mountain must be saved by whatever means possible including this unbalanced land swap that they so desire. But Alaska timber should be sustainably harvested by Alaskans for Alaskan sawmills and Alaskan manufacturers in Alaska. The wisdom we show today is the legacy we leave for tomorrow.


Norbert Chaudhary
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received September 03, 2016 - Published September 06, 2016

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letter Communities that value nearby Trust land have had years to secure community interest in it By Russ Webb




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