Sealaska land claim threatens Tongass guide businesses

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With 235 guides and outfitters providing similar services all across the region, our economic impact is significant and increasing. Nature-based tourism in Southeast Alaska had revenues of $15.5 million and attracted 42,000 visitors in just the summer of 2005, according to a report by the University of Alaska.

Our businesses also provide an important stream of revenues for the U.S. Forest Service, through the various permits each guide and outfitter is required to have. In 2008, Forest Service revenues from those permits reached nearly $1 million.

…If Sealaska develops each of the "futures" sites it seeks in this legislation, the entire fabric of the Tongass would be altered permanently. Places where guides like myself have operated for years would belong exclusively to Sealaska Corporation, to do with as they please. That valuable solitude that people are willing to pay to enjoy could evaporate overnight if this legislation passed. The very future of the nature-based tourism industry as we know it would be in question, and it is likely that some guides and outfitters would be crowded off the Tongass National Forest altogether.