Conservationists are fighting a bill working its way through Congress that would needlessly give away priceless public fish and wildlife habitat to a native Alaskan corporation. The Sealaska Bill (S 881) basically amends previous settlements between the U.S. and Alaskan natives to allow Sealaska Corp. to pick and choose among some of the most pristine remaining acres in the Tongass National Forest for logging.
Few would claim the U.S. has a proud track record in honoring treaty commitments to Native Americans, but this looks more like a sweetheart deal from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to constituents. This report in the Anchorage Daily News gives a balanced overview. As noted by a report from Audubon Society, the bill would allow the Native corporation “unprecedented ability” to pick and choose tracts of public lands throughout the 16.8 million-acre temperate rain forest in Southeast Alaska.
President’s budget held good news for Fish and Wildlife Service
As outlined here previously, President Obama’s budget holds some serious bad news for fish and wildlife in the area of Farm Bill conservation programs. But it also holds some good news for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The administration has proposed to increase that agency’s budget by $72 million over the 2012 level, with some of that going to restoring the Florida Everglades. But sportsmen need to remember this is just the president’s proposal. Congress has yet to weigh in, and if it’s keeps the same focus it had last year, the bottom-line will be considerably smaller for fish, wildlife, and sportsmen.