Sealaska Director: Trying to make lives better for Alaska Natives
"I respect Steve Haycox as a fair recorder and interpreter of Alaska history. Thus I was taken aback by his recent column on the Tongass.

I won't argue the environmental protection vs. economic development fault lines that rigidly define so much of natural resource decision-making in Alaska. Lawyers and courts often make the decisions that Alaska's residents are unable to make and we are forced to live with the result and either praise or decry "governmental interference," another Alaska political fault line. Thus, for example, we get Govs. Jay Hammond and Tony Knowles on one side of the line as leaders for a while and then Wally Hickel and Sarah Palin on the other.

The pendulum swings and most Alaskans can only hang on for dear life.

So it is with Sealaska Corp.'s effort to change its land selections to better reflect current reality in public and economic policy. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Congressman Don Young also see potential benefits for both the environment and Alaska's equally fragile economy, and try to create public policy that balances competing interests. It is not surprising that they are lambasted from all sides. Their courage to tread these Alaska fault lines gives one a sense of hope for the future.

The Sealaska land legislation is very different now than originally introduced several years ago. It will be different tomorrow as various interests intervene. If and when it passes, it will be different from tomorrow's version. That is the way of controversial legislation. Sealaska may get a bill that will require it to prove to a watching world that it was right after all. It may get a bill so different and bastardized that no one can make it work. It may revert to its current withdrawal areas and try to make them work despite what it knows of environmental passions and economic reality. The Alaska world will continue to turn. But it will be different.

Whatever happens with Sealaska Corp. and this legislation, it will go about its corporate business -- either better off or worse. But many of its shareholders, all Alaska Native people, will pause once again and wonder about their future in Alaska."

Get the Story:
Byron Mallott: Dealing with resources shows fault lines (The Anchorage Daily News 8/13)

Another Opinion:
Carl Portman: Legislation would promote responsible use of the Tongass (The Anchorage Daily News 8/14)

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

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