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Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:
Oct. 24, 2012:
Ketchikan Daily News: Timber sale
Does the U.S. Forest Service's recent announcement about a potential Tongass National Forest timber sale signal the launch of yet another exercise in futility?
Southeast Alaskans with long memories might think so. We've seen the fate of many a proposed timber sale at the hands of legal action and policy shifts.
The proposed Big Thorne Project on Prince of Wales Island might be an exception.
With great luck, the project could become, in the words of Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole, "an important bridge" to the agency's goal of a sustainable, young-growth supported timber program in Southeast Alaska.
That's a big responsibility for a single timber sale, even one that's proposed to supply about 123 million board feet of timber over a period of up to 10 years. The average annual timber sale volume offered from the entire Tongass National Forest during the past decade (2002-11 was about 55.3 million board feet. The average annual purchase volume was about 43.2 million.
With some good luck, Big Thorne could prove to be at least a viable lifeline for what timber industry remains in Southeast Alaska.
Cole seems keenly aware of the stakes.
"The importance of this project cannot be overstated," Cole said in announcing the Big Thorne Project draft Environmental Impact Statement process. "It is the first project in many years that has real potential to provide stability to the local timber industry in Southeast Alaska, and the rural communities that benefit from that industry."
According to the Forest Service, the alternatives being considered in the draft EIS involve a mix of old-growth and young-growth timber harvesting from about 5,000 acres of national forest lands in areas between Coffman Cove, Thorne Bay and Control Lake.
Will it fly?
Owen Graham of the pro-timber Alaska Forest Association has expressed cautious optimism about the proposed sale, but anticipates legal challenges from environmental groups.
A representative of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council told KRBD that the group still is reviewing the draft EIS.
The public at large can express its own views now.
The Forest Service draft EIS process has a 45-day public review and comment period. The draft EIS itself is available on the Forest Service website at: www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project(equals)31542.
We hope that interested members of the public will take a look at the proposed Big Thorne Project.
It appears the Forest Service has developed a timber project worthy of broad approval. Its stated goals of sustaining the existing industry, attracting new investment and assisting in the transition toward more young-growth harvests should draw support from all sides of the timber debate.
Oct. 23, 2012:
Ketchikan Daily News: E-absentee voting
With Monday's presidential debate behind us, Alaskans are ready to vote.
For those who are away from home, that means voting by absentee ballot.
And, as of Monday, it can mean receiving and sending that ballot electronically.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell made the announcement Monday that Alaska voters anywhere in the world now can request a ballot by email or fax and have it within 48 hours. They can return their completed ballot not only by mail or fax, but, if they choose, by a secure Web-based ballot return system.
The system was launched last month for military and overseas voters. Others must wait until 15 days before the election to apply for electronic ballot delivery, according to the lieutenant governor's office.
You can apply for online ballot delivery at http://www.elections.alaska.gov/doc/forms/C07GE.pdf
Fill out the form on the site, and then return it to the Division of Elections by mail, email or fax. The division then will send the ballot by the method you choose, in 24 to 48 hours.
In filling out the form, you'll be asked to supply a physical address in Alaska; an identifier such as your voter ID number, date of birth, Social Security number, Alaska driver's license or Alaska state ID card number; a telephone number where you can be reached if there are questions. You'll need to sign the application - not electronically, but actually by hand - and then return it. That can be done by mailing a hard copy to Division of Elections, Absentee Voting Office, 619 E. Ship Creek Ave., Suite 329, Anchorage AK 99501-1677; faxing a hard copy to the office at the telephone number on the application; or scanning the signed document and emailing it as an attachment (PDF, tiff or jpg file) to the division at akabsentee(at)alaska.gov.
The Division of Elections must receive your request by 5 p.m. Nov. 5.
And here you thought the election would never get here.