January, 2015 Comments to the Tongass Advisory Committee
January 21, 2015
Jason Anderson, Designated Federal Officer
Tongass National Forest
P.O. Box 309
Petersburg, Alaska 99833
Re: Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce Comments to Tongass Advisory Committee
I write this letter to express the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce’s continued support for a meaningful timber industry in Southeast Alaska.
While promising economic opportunities exist on the horizon for Southeast Alaskans, the reality is that the present situation is less than rosy. This is especially true for those living in rural areas who are dependent almost solely upon income that can be generated from the land and its resources. Timber is one of these resources, and it is a tragedy that Alaskans—those who best know and have a vested interest in good stewardship of the land—cannot utilize this resource to support themselves, their families, and their communities. The amount of private land that is available for resource development in Southeast Alaska is very small. Responsible socioeconomic policy must address this reality and the day-to-day struggles that are faced by isolated Alaskan communities with few economic drivers.
Continued old-growth timber sales can and should support the family businesses that rely upon the forest’s resources until the time that young-growth sales can be made in a manner that makes business sense. Southeast Alaska’s timber industry is already miniscule, and any transition to young-growth harvesting absolutely must ensure that this industry is not further reduced. Creating policy that is not mindful of these realities will deliver a socioeconomic blow to Southeast Alaskans and sound the death knell for an industry that has already been battered by outside interests that, quite frankly, often misunderstand what it means for a resource to be renewable.
The United States Forest Service is a part of the Department of Agriculture, and it is wise for us to consider managing the timber industry as we would other subsectors of agriculture. Trees can be managed, harvested, and re-grown as wheat or barely can, and we here in Southeast Alaska have a very real interest in ensuring that this can persist for generation after generation. Respect for the environment and nature is in our blood. No one wishes to see the Tongass destroyed. The reality, though, is that the Tongass is immense, and tress can and should be harvested in a manner that is responsible and which respects the socioeconomic realities faced by Alaskans each and every day. We will continue to be vocal in our support for a meaningful timber industry in Southeast Alaska because it makes both environmental and socioeconomic sense. Trees will be cut; let’s do it where we can do it best.
Thank you for your consideration.
Chelsea J. Goucher, Executive Director
Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce
O: (907) 225-3184
C: (907) 220-2133