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Alaska editorials

September 27, 2017 - 9:45 AM

Here is a sampling of Alaska editorials:

Sept. 23, 2017

Ketchikan Daily News: Timber benefits

A diversified economy creates the most stability.

That's as true here as in any place else, and Ketchikan and southern Southeast welcome most business and industry.

While tourism is king in the region at present, the timber industry that had its heyday, too, remains a contributor to the economy.

It'd like to contribute to a greater extent, and it's holding on for when that time comes. Business and industry, like life, is cyclical.

This month the U.S. Forest Service awarded a $2.6 million timber sale to Ketchikan-based Alcan Timber Inc. The sale covers about 1,500 acres on Kosciusko Island, the largest sale this year to date.

The sale during harvest and road building will secure up to about 30 jobs in the industry for a couple years, according to the Alaska Forest Association. That's all good.

The harvested trees will be shipped to China, where demand for the type of lumber possible from young-growth trees is increasing. The oldest of young-growth trees are about 60 years, and they have a lower value than old growth of 100-plus years.

It is less expensive at present to ship the trees to China than to barge them to mills in the Pacific Northwest. The highly mechanized Northwest mills currently have created more supply than is in demand, AFA says.

Alaska isn't equipped to make product from the young-growth trees. Those manufacturing jobs will be in China. Not so good.

This sale still effectively contributes to the economy, securing jobs and adding to the bigger picture of a diversified economic base.

It's diversity that will lead to growth and increased revenue here, and throughout the region and the state. Alaska's Department of Natural Resources effort to prepare, award, harvest and administer the Kosciusko sale will pay off.


Sept. 21, 2017

Peninsula Clarion: Burning pallets on the beach a safety issue

The Kenai City Council is considering a change in municipal code to ban the burning of pallets on city beaches. The ordinance comes after complaints to the city about piles of nails and screws left behind on beaches, creating hazards for other beach users.

We agree that piles of nails in such a popular and well-used location pose a threat not just to people, but also to vehicles, pets, horses — not to mention wildlife, and applaud the city for taking steps to curb the problem. Indeed, beaches up and down the Kenai Peninsula are popular recreation spots. In addition to seasonal sport and commercial fishermen, beachgoers year-round are likely to encounter residents and visitors combing the beach for shells or agate; walking or running; exercising their dogs; riding horses, fat-tire bikes or ATVs; or just enjoying the view and getting some fresh air.

Walking through a pile of nails certainly impacts the enjoyment of those activities.

We'd also note that piles of debris left behind by a person or group of people using the beach constitutes littering, which under city code is punishable with a fine of $500. Discarded construction materials already are included in the city's definition of refuse.

But we also realize that cleaning up piles of screws, nails and staples half-buried in the sand is not an easy task, and preventing the pile from accumulating in the first place is a more proactive solution.

We want all users to be able to continue to enjoy the Kenai beaches, and we'd rather not see things get to a point where a permit is required for a campfire. The ordinance under consideration would add the prohibition on burning pallets to the section of code governing camping, fires and other activities on city beaches, which regulates activities that could damage property, or threaten use and enjoyment of the beaches and public safety. Certainly, an activity that leaves behind hundreds of sharp objects falls into that category, too

Our Kenai beaches are treasured by residents and visitors alike. The city of Kenai has gone to great lengths to protect them over the years, from parking improvements to fencing to protect sensitive dune areas. Prohibiting something with the potential to harm anyone else who uses the beach would seem to be a reasonable approach to maintaining one of the city's greatest assets.


Sept. 27, 2017

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: State should keep standing up for Southeast Alaska timber

Alaska needs to be able to see the natural resources within its borders developed and done so in a responsible manner. Other states likewise need to be able to see natural resources developed.

But a federal judge in the District of Columbia apparently doesn't think so.

The judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit challenging a rule issued during the administration of President Bill Clinton that limited logging and road construction in national forests around the nation. Alaska and other states have been fighting what's been called the "roadless rule" pretty much since it was handed down literally in the final days of President Clinton's time in office.

In Alaska, the rule has sharply limited the activity in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.

The administration of Gov. Bill Walker is deciding whether Alaska should appeal.

It should.

The roadless rule affects 9.5 million acres in the Tongass National Forest. That's 56 per cent of the Tongass, which at 17 million acres is the nation's largest national forest. The rule also applies to nearly 80 per cent of the 6.9 million acres of the Chugach National Forest in Southcentral Alaska.

It is the impact on the Tongass National Forest that has been the greatest on our fellow Alaskans. Southeast Alaska once had a thriving timber industry, with the communities of Ketchikan, Sitka, and Wrangell, for example, synonymous with mighty Alaska logging.

The industry has been decimated over the past quarter century, however. The bustling sawmills and pulp mills have long since been idled, victims of a steady assault by national environmental groups accompanied at times by friendly occupants of Congress and the White House. Restriction after restriction eroded an industry that once was Alaska's top employer.

Why should people in the Interior care about this?

Because an attack on one industry could someday be an attack on one of our industries.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski noted the bottom-line impact of the D.C. judge's ruling: "A judge can dismiss a case, but Alaskans cannot dismiss the negative impacts the roadless rule is having on our communities."

Just about 40 years ago, on Sept. 29, 1977, the Daily News-Miner published an editorial about Alaskans views on natural resource development. It cited a poll taken at the state fair in Palmer that year by a group called The Organization for the Management of Alaska's Resources. And, yes, that editorial did acknowledge that fair polls aren't scientific in any way.

But the poll captured a sentiment that has been prevalent through the decades since then. Here's an excerpt from that 1977 editorial:

"One question asked, 'How much development of Alaska's resources would you like to see happen over the next 10 to 15 years?' Three-quarters want 'enough development to provide stable, year-round jobs for Alaskans,' while the extremes in development and preservation were generally even. Ten per cent went for 'little or no development to preserve the land in Alaska' and 8 per centfavoured 'large-scale mining of minerals for shipment outside the state.'"

"... This sample shows that there are no more over-development fans than preservationists, and most of us want only enough development to have steady jobs."

That's what Alaskans want today, too. Alaskans want policies from their state and federal governments that will allow this state's economy to grow, that will allow for the responsible and timely development of the plentiful natural resources that exist in all parts of this land, and that will provide those steady jobs.

Fighting the roadless rule isn't a fight to be waged just for Southeast Alaska. It's a fight that should be waged for Alaska in its entirety.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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