Monthly Archives: January 2011
On Feb. 1, the Sitka Fine Arts Camp will take possession of the core campus of the former Sheldon Jackson College. Campers won’t arrive until the summer, but in at least one building, the lights are already on. Work is underway to re-open the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, which closed late last year.
In Southeast Alaska it is easy to think about the value of salmon in dollars per pound. Fish prices are as common in conversation as the weather. But most people don’t think about how the value of a salmon translates into jobs and expenditure outside the industry itself. The sport fishing and conservation advocacy group Trout Unlimited is trying to change that. The organization recently commissioned a study that attempts to measure the yearly overall economic output of the commercial, sport, and subsistence salmon fisheries for Southeast.
The Sealaska Lands legislation would transfer ownership of dozens of parcels in the Tongass National Forest to the regional Native corporation for economic development. The company wants to use these Native future sites for eco-tourism, energy and transportation development. Residents and business-owners using these lands are worried about the potential impact on some of their favorite Southeast spots.
Among the most vocal critics of Sealaska’s land selection bill are conservation groups. They point to past logging practices by the regional Native corporation and others, which have removed large stands of trees from Southeast Alaska, and say the region can’t support much more in the future. Most say they want Sealaska to get its land entitlement, but that it should be within the boundaries set by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Sealaska officials defend the corporation’s environmental record, and say the bill will allow them to be an even better steward of the forest. Here's more in part three of our six-part series on the Sealaska legislation.
Sitka’s Assembly will consider an ordinance about whether to disband the Long Range Planning and Economic Development Commission. The idea comes after a special meeting last night.
If the Sealaska lands bill doesn’t clear congress, the corporation says it could be forced to shutter its Southeast timber operations in three years. Many industry insiders say those operations are pivotal in keeping Southeast’s remaining mills and loggers working. Some say they’d also like to see Sealaska mill more of the trees it cuts in the region. In part two of our six-part series on the Sealaska legislation, we talk to the timber industry about its perspectives.
Sitka’s Tree and Landscape Committee is looking for ideas. Over the past several years, the committee has been involved in around $400,000 dollars’ worth of beautification projects, events, and workshops – the issue is deciding what to tackle next.
The New Year will bring a new fight over Sealaska’s lands-selection legislation. The bill, which will be reintroduced in the new Congress, could determine the future of tens of thousands of acres of Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Backers say the measure will revitalize a troubled timber industry and help villages struggling to sustain their economies . Opponents say it will destroy valuable wildlands and hurt tourism, subsistence hunting and commercial fishing. This month, CoastAlaska reporters are taking a look at some of the controversies surrounding the bill, which was a major issue in last year’s U.S. Senate race. In the first of six reports, we examine why Sealaska is seeking new land selections.
Bert Stedman says the trooper academy isn’t going anywhere. The District A senator from Sitka told the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday (1-12-11) that the new aquatics center planned for Mt. Edgecumbe High School would help cement the community’s relationship with the Public Safety Academy, as well as the Coast Guard. Stedman’s remarks were part of his annual legislative preview for the Sitka Chamber.
Sitka is among the communities in Southeast Alaska that sees fewer visits from cruise ships than the Inside Passage mainstays of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. But local officials are hoping to change that, and on Tuesday they asked for the Sitka Assembly’s help.