Opinion: Alaska Native corporation land bill is bad for whole state
"For 18.5 years I worked as a biologist with the Habitat Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the panhandle of Alaska, which encompasses our nation's largest national forest, the Tongass. A remote and rare coastal temperate rain forest, the Tongass offers one of the few opportunities left in the United States to conserve the species and integrity of a landscape at an ecosystem scale. But within a few months the Tongass, as we now know it, may no longer exist.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress may soon take action on a controversial piece of legislation that would transfer public lands rich in wildlife to the Sealaska Regional Corporation, which has already unsustainably clear-cut an abundance of some of the most valuable and biologically productive lands in Southeast Alaska.

My primary duties as an area biologist included monitoring the impact of logging on fish and wildlife. I regularly worked in the field with Sealaska, which has holdings of approximately 453 square miles and is the largest private landholder in Southeast Alaska. While I gained extensive first-hand knowledge regarding the resource issues and concerns on both private and public lands throughout Southeast Alaska, I was shocked and dismayed at the corporate land management practices I witnessed. Like another Gulf oil spill, this can and should be prevented from happening again.

Under Sen. Lisa Murkowski's S. 881 proposal, however, the Sealaska Corporation would receive about 125 square miles of high-value land in small parcels that would allow them to select the best estuaries, bays, stream mouths and stands of large old-growth trees for intensive clear-cut logging and other developmental purposes.

It may also privatize, at taxpayers' expense but without any public review or informed discourse, access to extremely valuable tidal electrical generation sites."

Get the Story:
Jack Gustafson: Tongass land transfer bad for the forest and Alaskans (The Anchorage Daily News 7/19)

Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization Act:
H.R. 2099 | S.881

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