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Well informed discussion

Few topics have generated more conversation in Ketchikan over time than how the Tongass National Forest is managed.

That long conversation is continuing with the U.S. Forest Service’s recent publication of a draft Environmental Impact Statement in which the agency’s preferred alternative is to exempt the Tongass National Forest from the national roadless rule.

The public comment period regarding the draft EIS began earlier this month and will continue through to midnight on Dec. 17.

In addition, the Forest Service has scheduled a series of “Alaska Roadless Rulemaking” public meetings in communities throughout Southeast Alaska.

The public meetings will include overviews of the rulemaking process, the proposed rule, and the draft EIS, in addition to a question-and-answer period.

There won’t be an opportunity to provide official public testimony, but there will be information about how to submit written comments for the official record.

The public meeting in Ketchikan is set for 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, 50 Main St.

Other public meetings in southern Southeast Alaska are scheduled for 5 p.m. to 6:30  p.m. on Wednesday at the Craig Tribal Association Hall in Craig; 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 12 at the Hydaburg City Hall; 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the Totem Trail Cafe in Kasaan; 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Thorne Bay Ranger District office in Thorne Bay; and 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 14 at the Point Baker Community Building.

Following each of the above-noted public meetings will be subsistence hearings, which will provide opportunity for recorded and transcribed comment related to subsistence aspects of the draft EIS.

The public meetings offer the opportunity for interested community members to learn more about the proposed rule and the Forest Service’s process for developing that rule.

That’s good information to have when writing comments for submission during the public comment period that ends on Dec. 17.

As we’ve seen during the long debates regarding the Tongass, conversations are often most productive when they’re well informed.