Senator Murkowski has proposed S.340, a new Sealaska Bill that offers some protections, but opens new areas for logging. Each revision comes as a result of hours of hard fought compromise.
Sealaska is entitled to 70,000 additional acres to satisfy the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Changes include 152,000 conservation acres and 26,000 acres on Prince of Wales withdrawn from timber harvest. Protections include Bay of Pillars on Kuiu, some land on northern POW, Sarkar Lakes, karst on East and West Kosciusko Island, Honker Divide and Sukkwan Island. This bill deletes “future sites”, now asking for 9 small parcels while 21 have been dropped. Protected areas are: the Situk River south of Yakatat, Bostwick Bay on Gravina and the Craig Community watershed. This bill would finalize land selections for Sealaska but many divisive issues remain.
Nine communities in Southeast have stated their fervent opposition to this bill. Timber lands of 68,400 acres will be taken from Calder Bay, Election Creek, the Cleveland Peninsula, 12 Mile Arm, Tuxekan Island, Polk Inlet, Keete Inlet, Kosciusko and Kuiu Islands.
Given that the Seaslaska Bill has be re-introduced for the past 4 years, TCS is unsure how far this bill will go. TCS remains concerned about the Sealaska’s treatment of its lands. Timber taken from these incredibly rare old-growth stands affects the health of the ecosystem for hundreds of years.