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PUBLISHED: 4:59 PM on Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Dear Capital City Weekly:
On August 5th, 2005, the people of Southeast Alaska gained a significant victory. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that substantial, admitted errors in Forest Service calculations influenced their 1997 Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP). Instead of designing a Forest Plan that looked to the future of Southeast, the Forest Service had erroneously created a plan that chained our communities and resources to the failed plans of the past.

Some have complained that this decision prevents all logging on the Tongass National Forest. Some have complained that this is what environmentalists want, that they speak with one voice for the elimination of all logging from our National Forests. Might as well say that all Republicans are pro-war or seek the elimination of all public education. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that this decision is a huge win for the people and communities of Southeast Alaska. This decision gives us an opportunity to protect our community hunting grounds, the places where we fish and recreate, the places that are important for traditional cultural identity, tourism, and economic growth. They are the backbone of our world famous salmon, internationally recognized tourism opportunities, and the secret spots we take family, friends, and loved ones.

The international demand for Tongass timber has sagged, and economists do not see this trend reversing. Rather than chasing our tail until we have cut and exported every tree in every drainage, we can now pursue small scale timber sales that enrich local economies rather than foreign investors. Small sales, designed for local mills, are the future, not the sprawling clearcuts that suck up millions of federal dollars and return pennies to our communities. Small sales do not require massive road building, do not require sacrificing our watersheds or the image of our wild fisheries, and provide wood to local manufacturers rather than foreign woodlots.

The lower 48 are checkerboarded with clearcuts and strangled by a spaghetti network of roads. Southeast is different because of our remaining intact forests, our pure watersheds, our stunning natural scenery, and our community based economies. These are all worth protecting, and this decision opens the door for real multiple use management. Contact SEACC at (907) 586-6942 or info@seacc.org and let them know what areas are important to you.

Dave Sherman

Juneau, AK


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