Listen Up, Government! The People on the Ground Know
Dateline: Alaska, Kupreanof Island. In nearby Kake, Alaska, unemployment stands at 80%. In an attempt to help the battered timber industry, the U.S. Forest Service has been planning to open up several large stands of old-growth trees which would require building 25 miles of roads at a cost of $6 million. For the three tiny sawmills in Kake, bidding on such an enormous operation is out of the question. However, the local Forest Service ranger did something unheard of: he asked some 500 Kake residents what they wanted to happen in the remaining uncut forests around their village. Yes. They wanted jobs—just enough timber sales to keep the mills going. But here’s the surprise. They wanted no roads going into the virgin forests! They want to protect their way of life: hunting the black tailed deer. The result is a new plan that will reduce the number of board feet of timber and require only 1.8 mile of new roads. According to Lincoln Beach of the Native Tlingit tribal council, “We want to protect what’s left…we want to see a sustainable logging operation…We need to protect our hunting lands and our watersheds.” Since I speak on resiliency and finding multiple solutions for an issue—it seems that listening to the people at ground zero in the Alaska timber industry makes darn good sense.