The following statement from Austin Williams, Alaska Forest Program Manager for The Wilderness Society, is in response to the hearing on S. 730, the Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization and Jobs Protection Act, or Sealaska bill.
“We recognize and support Sealaska Corporation’s right to claim its outstanding acreage from the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, but it should not be allowed to re-write the rules and force American taxpayers to foot the bill.
“The Sealaska bill would undermine efforts to move toward a more stable, viable economy for Southeast Alaskan communities. The US Forest Service has already made a commitment to transitioning to a more secure and sustainable economy, and research shows that this transition will improve the economic opportunities for the future.
“Only by transitioning away from the boom-and-bust old-growth timber economy and by taking advantage of the Tongass National Forest’s strengths – restoration, recreation, fishing, and tourism – will the communities in Southeast Alaska be strengthened.