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News that Ucore Rare Metals is proceeding to the next step in its process toward developing a mine at its Bokan Mountain/Dotson Ridge property on the southeast coast of Prince of Wales Island should be viewed positively — despite coming at a difficult time for the rare earth element mining sector.

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Letty Eileen Cole, 93, died on Oct. 15, 2014, in Ketchikan.
Susan Marie Mallott Patrick, 58, died Oct. 11, 2014, in Ketchikan.
Daniel Edward Hines, 47, died Oct. 11, 2014, in Juneau after a nine-month battle with brain cancer.
3/19/2013
Breathing room

Several Ketchikan residents have weighed in already on what they think management of the Tongass National Forest should look like in the coming decades. Now we all can.

Originally, the deadline for comment on the Tongass National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan was Easter, March 31. It’s a busy time of the year as we prepare for spring (and spring break!), as well as the holiday.

On Monday, the U.S. Forest Service announced that the comment period has been extended through June.

Now, comments will be accepted online (www.tnf-5yearreview.com) through June 30.

Based on the agency’s review process, which does give weight to public comments, Tongass Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole will decide how the plan will change. He could decide to enact minor changes or clarifications, or a full-scale revision.

The last time the plan was updated was 2008. This time, the public comment period began in January and was slated to last three full months. It’s welcome news that it now will be twice that.

Officials told those who showed up for last month’s meeting at the Ted Ferry Civic Center that they would find it very helpful if comments are as specific as possible. Tell them what you are thinking; tell them how to improve the plan. Timber issues and logging roads were the topics most people spoke about in?February.

But now there is time to think about it, and come up with positive ideas to shape the Tongass.

To get information about the Tongass National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, go to the U.S. Forest Service website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/tongass.

Then think about it, come up with specific ideas, jot them down, and send them to the Forest Service. It’s good to have the extra time to study the plan that is so crucial to the future of the Tongass — our home.