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By CATHY BOLLING
Island Post Staff Writer
U.S. Forest Service staff briefed members of the Prince of Wales Landscape Assessment Team on Jan. 16, regarding the team’s role in the Feb. 20 objectors resolution meeting for the agency’s Prince of Wales Landscape Level Analysis documents.
Tongass Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart told the group he had accepted many of its recommendations as part of the preferred alternative. Craig District Ranger Matthew Anderson added, “There is a lot of support for 95 percent of what POWLAT submitted.”
The ad hoc, island-wide collaborative group formed at the invitation of the Forest Service, and met from May 2016 until May 2017. In June 2017 it submitted its proposal, including 29 recommendations across many categories.
Roll call for each POWLAT meeting includes more than 20 entities: island communities, Native tribes, the POW Chamber of Commerce, representatives from the timber, energy, and visitor/recreation industries, conservation groups, the State of Alaska, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, education, and at-large seats for any member of the public.
Cathy Needham of Kai Environmental served as group facilitator, hired through an agreement with The Nature Conservancy.
At the objectors meeting, all questions will come from the reviewing official and Regional Forester David Schmid, Stewart or Anderson. POWLAT may be asked to share its mission statement, and discuss how its membership formed, how notes were taken, how records of decisions were kept, and how recommendations were formed, said Stewart.
It also will be beneficial to differentiate the group’s membership by explaining who they represented by category, community or other entity, he said.
POWLAT members might be asked to recall discussion on particular issues.
The group agreed that POWLAT Chair Jon Bolling would be the first to respond to questions, and other members could add additional details.
Stewart expressed his appreciation to all the POWLAT members who worked on the project.
“You have helped us change a system to where the public can make collective partners that we have out there, all have a voice in a very different way,” he said. “It is absolutely amazing to me when I look at the full scope of the effort you put forward and how you worked through the challenges. … It is the demonstration that I will tell you very candidly, is a national model for how to work and operate with the agency which many other communities across the country will take value from.”
Also during the Jan. 16 meeting, Anderson said he would review the topic of greenhouse operations to produce seedlings and other native plant materials for reforestation and other projects. This was one of the recommended projects but was not included in the draft record of decision, noted POWLAT at-large member Pat Tierney of Thorne Bay.
The Prince of Wales Community Advisory Council website, powcac.org, has a menu tab for the POW Landscape Assessment Team, including its history, an account of each meeting, the working project list and the finalized package submitted to the Forest Service.