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EDITOR, Daily News:
A Point of View written by Frank Murkowski and published in the Sept. 4, 2019, edition of the Ketchikan Daily News promoted Alaska’s exemption from the Roadless Rule. Many of his statements are untrue or misleading. I want to explain what I have learned.
First, the anti-Roadless contingent wants access to timber on the largest rainforest in the U.S. There are no plans to log the Chugach or another Alaska forest. Nope, after clearcutting southern Southeast Alaska, logging advocates are devising ways to log closer to Wrangell, Petersburg and Kake. As the world decries forest fires in the Amazon, clearcutting the Tongass is promoted. I consider the Tongass the “lungs” of our area. Our massive spruce, cedar and hemlock contain huge amounts of carbon, as does much of the ground beneath the trees. Logging proponents fail to recognize the usefulness of the Tongass.
Second, there have been at least 58 projects, some renewable energy, that have been approved on the Tongass while the Roadless Rule has been in force. It’s not true that the Roadless Rule blocks development.
Third, mining exploration and development is difficult, but again, potential mines have been explored on Prince of Wales Island and Southeast Alaska, all within the Roadless Rule.
Fourth, only 1% of the region’s economy depends on logging. Contributing 1% does not indicate an industry, just Viking hanging on by their teeth until another subsidized timber sale is arranged. Each timber sale since the 1950s has been subsidized, so taxpayers pay to have logs shipped to Asia. How convenient that Viking can be assured of a future.
Fifth, unlogged areas are more productive for deer and fish. My sons hunted on Admiralty, and always returned with five legally hunted animals. Admiralty was not logged, leaving plenty of habitat for deer. As for fish, Joel Jackson, president of the Kake Tribal Council, has talked about Kake recovering from intense loggin in the 1980s. Kake’s people depend on subsistence fishing, which was drastically harmed by intense logging on Kake tribal land. They recognize the danger of logging to fish habitat.
The Roadless area protects this part of Alaska for us and future generations.