By Rebecca Knight
November 28, 2012
And one of the greatest threats to deer populations is from loss of low-elevation winter habitat. Currently, deer populations are crashing on Lindenberg Peninsula, just as they did 40 years ago on Mitkof Island, which was closed to hunting for 17 years and even today still has the shortest deer season in Southeast. Recently, the Petersburg Fish and Game Advisory Committee voted to recommend a reduced deer season and bag limit on Lindenberg due to conservation concerns.
The Petersburg City Council, Kupreanof City Council, and residents of Lindenberg Peninsula outside of city limits have expressed their concerns for further impacts on winter deer habitat crucial to maintaining local availability of huntable populations of deer.
Seemingly to address these concerns, the Petersburg Ranger District (PRD) initiated “collaborative stewardship” workshops which they claimed would enable the public to have a say in restoration of deer and fish habitat. But only three, of thirty-eight culverts currently blocking fish passage and degrading fish habitat in the project area, are being repaired. Standard precommercial thinning is being termed, “wildlife habitat restoration” but such thinning is well known to have only temporary effects for providing forage.
It was recently discovered that the PRD prepared an extensive “Change Analysis” of the Tonka Timber Sale, adding impacts that were not in the EIS, and incorporated those changes in the Tonka Stewardship Contract without the public’s knowledge or comment. So, while the PRD was conducting collaborative stewardship workshops, key decisions had already been made but were not revealed to public collaborators who believed that their voices would matter.
These extensive changes to the Tonka Timber sale and stewardship contract decisions, outside of the public purview during collaborative Stewardship workshops, constitute a breach of good faith in the public process.
The 100 page, “Change Analysis” tripled the original size of the Tonka log sort yard, and added additional clear cutting on 113 more acres of crucial deer winter habitat. The USFS claims these extensive revisions were “minor deviations” to the Tonka Timber Sale.
This discouraging evidence demonstrates clearly, the present era of “Collaboration and Stewardship” on the Petersburg Ranger District is not living up to agency promises.
The old adage, “Saying so, doesn’t make it so.” is as true today as it ever was.
Received November 27, 2012 - Published November 28, 2012
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