Legislation working its way through Congress could allow a single corporation, Sealaska, to log some of the best, oldest, most biologically-rich areas left in America's Rainforest, the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
Sealaska Corporation, which has a history of clearcutting its lands, is seeking ownership of some of the most ecologically and biologically diverse parts of the Tongass National Forest. In fact, the lands targeted by Sealaska have more than ten times the habitat value of other Tongass forest land!
Help us stop this over-reaching legislation and protect the forest, along with the communities and wildlife that depend on it.
Conveyance of Sealaska's final land entitlements does not require an act of Congress; Sealaska has already selected their final entitlements and is using this legislation as an attempt to get a sweetheart deal, bypassing the intention of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
At 17 million acres, the Tongass is our largest national forest and is one of the last, intact coastal temperate rainforests in the world. Old-growth forests and salmon streams still support abundant fish and wildlife populations, sustain traditional ways of life, provide outstanding recreation opportunities, and serve as the lynchpin for local economies. Yet for decades the Tongass has also been a place of controversy where land issues pit neighbor against neighbor. The Sealaska bill only serves to continue and codify this conflict.
The legislation does not represent the future of Southeast Alaska. Rather, it promises to divide people even further precisely at a time when, after years of collaboration, stakeholders have identified a shared vision for the region.
The future of the Tongass' forest-dependent rural communities, and the unique rainforest ecosystem, lies in moving away from the intensive logging practices of the past to restoration, small-diameter wood utilization and a locally scaled wood products industry that provides local economic benefits. This bill does nothing to further that future and in fact threatens its viability by selecting the best remaining old growth forest. S.881 fails to consider the needs of the unique and rare rainforest environment and could adversely impact small, forest-dependent communities and local industries, including the region's leading economic engines--tourism and commercial fishing.
I ask that you oppose S. 881, a unilateral and controversial piece of legislation, and instead support this collaboratively identified vision for a sustainable ecological and economic future for Southeast Alaska.