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Lessons and Opportunities in Managing Resources to Sustain Healthy Ecosystems, Communities & Nations

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Sandor, John
Conference: Joining the Northern Commons: Lessons for the World, Lessons from the World
Location: Anchorage
Conf. Date: August 17-21, 2003
Date: 2003
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/997
Sector: Forestry
Region: North America
Subject(s): IASC
land tenure and use
forest management
Abstract: "Many lessons can be learned from a history of the use and management of public lands and resources in the United States and Alaska. These lessons can help land owners, policy makers and citizens better evaluate opportunities and strategies for managing lands and resources on which they and future generations depend. "History reveals a remarkable record of a young nation facing up to the problems associated with the abuse of its public lands. With the initiative of visionary leaders, the concept of responsible stewardship was adopted by a young, but rapidly growing country. As a result, a system of National Forests, Parks, Wildlife Refuges and other special categories of land were established for the use and benefit of present and future generations. "Through the vision of President Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot and others, National Forests were established to protect forests, help homeowners and improve the prosperity of the nation. Through the Forest Services century of service, the organization reconciled conflicting uses of the forests and implemented the Multiple Use - Sustained Yield Act. As populations increased and conflicting uses intensified the past two decades, special interests promoted the concept that public forests should be undisturbed by humans and commercial timber sales ended. But the lessons from the land show that withdrawing forests from professional management and use will increase disease and insect infestations and a build up of fuels that can lead to disastrous forest fires. Science-based management of public forests - with the involvement of communities dependent on those forests - is the best strategy for sustaining healthy ecosystems, communities and nations. "Alaska's history after U. S. purchase in 1867, reveals decades of neglect; but the Gold Rush awakened interest in the territory. World War II proved Alaska's strategic importance to the nation, and the momentum for statehood grew. Congress passed the Alaska Statehood Act on June 30, 1958 and President Eisenhower signed the Proclamation January 3, 1959. The gigantic discovery of the Prudhoe Bay oil fields in 1968 stamped out any remaining thought Russia had 'sold us a sucked orange'. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, finally compensated the original inhabitants of Alaska with 44 million acres of land and nearly a billion dollars; assuring Alaska natives a well-deserved role in Alaska's future. "The euphoria of statehood must be tempered with the reality that the federal government retains 'ownership' of 60 percent of the state, and continues to erode promises and pledges made under the Alaska Statehood Compact. The opportunities and promises of Alaskas future are bright; if we apply the lessons of history. With a positive vision, 'sound' science, accessibility, affordable energy, public-private initiatives and international partnerships we can sustain healthy ecosystems, communities and nations for the benefit of all mankind."

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