What others say: Alaska rises and falls with its resources

  • By Ketchikan Daily News editorial
  • Wednesday, November 29, 2017 9:00pm
  • Opinion

Alaska’s economy is based on natural resource development, whether it’s oil, natural gas, fishing, mining or timber.

Even tourism is largely dependent on wise management of natural resources.

Like in nature, this requires a balanced approach. Neither one extreme nor the other will ever prevail forever. The views of present Alaskans are likely to differ — at least somewhat — with future thoughts on Tongass management.

That said, the future of natural resource development in the Tongass National Forest made headlines this week with Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s effort to exempt the forest from the “Roadless Rule” and pre-empt the 2016 Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan Amendment.

Murkowski has proposed to Congress that legislative adjustments be made to secure a viable timber industry in Southeast Alaska. Since the closure of two large pulp mills and smaller sawmills over the past couple of decades, the timber industry has struggled to stay alive.

Murkowski proposes a 360,000-acre inventory of young-growth timber in the Tongass. This inventory is viewed as necessary by the industry if there is to be a successful transition to young-growth-based harvests.

If Congress should adopt Murkowski’s proposed adjustments, the U.S. Forest Service would manage the 17-million-acre Tongass under the 2008 Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan.

The proposal is included in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal 2018.

Murkowski is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Murkowski’s proposal is in response to the industry’s plea. It has witnessed the amount of Tongass timber under contract for harvest by the Forest Service decline in the past 20 years from 498 million board feet to 78 mbf. Young growth doesn’t begin to fill the gap.

It’s also mostly an export product at present. Murkowski’s efforts may lead to developments within the industry to allow for regional manufacturing, which would provide jobs and enhance the economy.

Meanwhile, exempting Alaska’s national forests from the Roadless Rule would loosen restraints on other types of development in the Tongass, as well.

Tongass management is a decades-old topic with significant time, work, money and planning invested. It’s also been confronted with much uncertainty for the industry. Most of that might have been unnecessary if Murkowski’s plan had been adopted previously.

As it is, Murkowski has a Congress and a president expected to be open to her proposal.

And ultimately Alaska depends on development of natural resources, as witnessed by their rise and fall through the years. The economy thrives when they are developed; not so much when they aren’t.

That will be the way of the land absent new ventures coming here.

— Ketchikan Daily News,

Nov. 25

More in Opinion

The official ballot for the Aug. 16, 2022, Special General Election features ranked choice voting. (State of Alaska Division of Elections)
Voices of the Peninsula: Check out the ballot before you vote

This kind of ballot is not something you have seen before.

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Why I’m voting for Walker

Walker is the only candidate with the potential to govern effectively for all Alaskans.

Nick Begich III campaign materials sit on tables ahead of a May 16 GOP debate held in Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Nick Begich is who Alaska and America need now

It is in Alaska’s best interest to elect a member of the Republican party

State Sen. Josh Revak (Photo provided)
The time has come to end Big Tech’s rule

The hope is that the bipartisan American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992) will come to the Senate floor for a vote

Michael Heimbuch attends a memorial service for the late Drew Scalzi on Aug. 5, 2005, at the Seafarers Memorial on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Point of View: King salmon: The clash of culture and science

People do some pretty awful things to king salmon stocks

Lieutenant governor candidate Edie Grunwald speaks at a Charlie Pierce campaign event at Paradisos restaurant in Kenai on Saturday, March 5, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Election Integrity: An Alaskan question with an Alaskan answer

A needless round of feel-good meetings and what-if conversations will be a thing of the past

This photo shows the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’m a longtime educator, and I’m supporting Walker/Drygas

The issues our state faces are significant with regard to education.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Congress could keep health insurance costs from rising, but it has to act fast

The cost of health insurance will rise substantially next year for about 13 million Americans

The offical ballot for the Aug. 16, 2022, Special General Election features ranked choice voting. (State of Alaska Divison of Elections)
Opinion: Alaskans deserve an election system that represents our differences

The new system’s goal is to make this election cycle transparent, secure and easy for all Alaskans to vote

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell (Courtesy)
Opinion: UAA’s career certificates are helping to fill Alaska’s workforce pipeline

At UAA, we are announcing a new suite of certificate programs responding to some of the state’s most critical needs

Opinion: Remaining vigilant after 30 years

Exxon Valdez spurred both federal and state legislatures, the industry, and the public to come together