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Ketchikan’s economy is dependent on what occurs with the Tongass National Forest.
That fact describes the importance of a visit to the Tongass from the chief of the U.S. Forest Service.
Toby Tooke visited Ketchikan within the past week for a roundtable discussion about the Tongass, accompanied by Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
The discussion involved a variety of views, from the proponents of timber harvest to those who would just as soon leave the Tongass as it is — relatively untouched.
The visit allowed all of the hot Tongass topics to be aired — access, the Roadless Rule, the decline of the timber industry, the correlating and ongoing move from old-growth to young-growth harvest, and sustainable use of the forest’s natural resources.
The issues are essentially the same as they’ve been for decades, with all Southeast Alaskans involved expressing deeply felt convictions about the forest called home.
Given that decisions about the forest are often made by Outsiders, it is appreciated when they come to hear what those who live and work in the forest and communities surrounded by the forest have to say about its uses, of which there are many.
All are important for sustaining an economy in the Tongass and in Alaska.