The ANCSA Improvement Act Threatens Lands Previously Protected by Congress

Last week, Senator Murkowski scheduled a legislative hearing for February 7, 2018, before the Senate Energy Committee’s Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining. Senator Mike Lee of Utah chairs this subcommittee and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is the ranking Democrat. The hearing’s purpose is to receive testimony on 15 bills, including S. 1481, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Improvement Act (ANCSA).

As currently drafted, S.1481 perpetuates the problematic and limiting western corporate model originally imposed on Alaska Natives by ANCSA. This model has historically created an economic imperative for Native Corporations in Southeast to pursue short-term resource extraction policies centered on logging corporate lands.

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Taking the Fight for the Tongass to DC!

fullsizeoutput_a8b.jpegA little over a week ago, Buck Lindekugel, Crystal Nelson, and I traveled to Washington, D.C to take the fight for the Tongass to D.C. at this particularly critical moment in time.

During the week we talked to lawmakers from around the country about the role the Tongass National Forest plays in the lives of Southeast Alaskans, and pushed back against the threat posed by two recent Tongass riders included in a Senate Appropriations package – exempting the Chugach and the Tongass National Forests from the Roadless Rule, and rolling back the 2016 Tongass Land Management Plan Amendment (TLMP) which includes crucial protections for important salmon watersheds.

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Mining Update - Federal Involvement in Transboundary Mines

Taku_Michele_Cornelius-06_2014_(6)_copy.jpgOur transboundary rivers here in Alaska have a new advocate, the U.S. Department of State. After years of petitioning by SEACC, Alaska Native groups, conservation groups, and the Alaska delegation, the federal government has taken the first steps in protecting our clean water, salmon, and the communities that rely on them.

On December 28th Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, who is heading the Alaskan administration’s efforts to address the issues of transboundary mines, released a letter from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs. The letter acknowledges our concerns and promises to engage their counterparts at Global Affairs Canada on the issue. They have secured a commitment from Global Affairs Canada to ‘engage in a bilateral review of gaps and limitations in the cooperation frameworks between B.C. and U.S. states.’ The Department of State will lead this interagency review and plans to share their findings at the April 2018 International Joint Commission (IJC) meetings.

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SEACC and Partners – Taking the BLM to court to protect the Chilkat!

Today SEACC, along with an Alaska Native Tribal Government and two other conservation groups, filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The suit challenges BLM’s failure to consider the cumulative impact of future mine development at Constantine Metals’ Palmer Project when reviewing exploration applications. The Palmer Project encompasses ongoing exploration activities in the Chilkat Watershed, directly upstream of Haines and Klukwan, AK.


An eagle on the Chilkat - Photo by: Josh Miller

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Tongass Updates - Take Action to Protect the Roadless Rule and 2016 Tongass Amendment

Last week, just before families gathered to give thanks for all we share, Senator Lisa Murkowski released her FY 2018 Interior/Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (or ‘Interior Appropriations’ bill for "short"). The proposed spending bill takes aim at one of the things that Southeast Alaskans are most thankful for -- the Tongass National Forest. Senator Murkowski’s targets, the 2016 Tongass Land Management Plan Amendment and the Roadless Rule, help keep the Tongass the wild place that we all love. 

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Take Action - Tell it to BC

With the new government in British Columbia, now is the time to speak up, be heard, and protect our rivers! Here are some ways that we can address the threat of mines on our transboundary rivers and take action to make sure that our communities continue to thrive.

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We need your help now (this morning!) to protect National Forests

We need your help today to stop another devastating bill that takes aim at our national forests. The House of Representatives is voting on H.R. 2936, the so-called “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017,” this morning, Alaska time. This bill, introduced in June by Representative Bruce Westerman, sets a dangerous precedent and threatens the health of all our national forests by strangling the public’s ability to influence management of these valuable public lands, completely failing to address the real problem with wildfire funding in our national forests: the growing impact of wildfire suppression on the Forest Service's annual budget.


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Looming Tongass Threats

At the end of September, we wrote to tell you about our win upholding the Roadless Rule on the Tongass. Today, we were deeply disappointed to hear that Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is mounting a two-pronged attack on the Tongass: to exempt the Tongass (again) from the Roadless Rule and indefinitely delay implementation of last December’s Tongass Land Management Plan Amendment decision.

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Protecting our transboundary rivers - petitioning the federal government

Bear_photo.jpgThe Southeast Alaska Conservation Council along with Alaska Native and other conservation groups has asked for federal involvement in protecting our transboundary rivers, petitioning the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to investigate six mines in British Columbia. The mines are on the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk Rivers which flow from B.C. into Alaska. These rivers provide habitat for the abundant salmon runs which drive our economy and have sustained local communities for thousands of years.

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We Won! Roadless Areas Nationwide Remain Protected

Yakutat_Lee_House-2016_(2)_copy.jpgFrom the Tongass National Forest to the rest of the United States, nearly 50 million acres of national forest remain protected today thanks to a new decision by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The judge sided with the USDA, Forest Service, and conservation organizations including SEACC in striking down the state of Alaska’s latest attack on the ‘Roadless Rule,’ and protecting our wild ‘roadless’ areas from logging and logging roads into the future. 

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