Because of our unique history and foundation as a Native-owned company, we realize our story is a complex one to tell. We are committed to helping our neighbors understand who we are and how we shape our policies to positively impact Southeast Alaska communities.
The stewardship and sustainable management of Sealaska’s land is guided by our Native values which require us to balance cultural, economic, environmental and social needs.
Myth: Sealaska clear cuts all its lands and has clear cut hundreds of thousands of acres.
Fact: Over the years, Sealaska has made difficult choices to clear cut portions of our land in order to address the severe economic conditions of our tribal member shareholders. We acknowledge this, but we also want to be clear that our land is an extremely small part of the Tongass Region—only 1.3 percent of the entire Southeast Region, our traditional homeland. We have clear-cut only about 40 percent of our land, or less than 1/2 of 1% of the Tongass Region.
Sealaska’s total ANCSA land ownership is 290,000 acres where we own the surface estate and subsurface estate and an additional 280,000 acres of only subsurface estate beneath village and urban corporation land. This means Sealaska owns only 1.3% of the 23 million acre Tongass Region and the village and urban corporations own another 1.3%. Under ANCSA the federal government owes Sealaska another 0.4%, which will bring our total ownership to a mere 3.0% of the 23 million acre Tongass Region.
Sealaska must choose between clear-cut (even aged management) and selective cut (uneven aged management). Both have advantages and disadvantages. As of the end of 2010 we have even aged managed 85,000 acres and have uneven aged managed 115,000 acres. Clear cut (even age management) results in healthy regrowth and stimulates understory browse vegetation but is not aesthetically pleasing for several years following harvest. Selective harvest (uneven aged management) results in less timber harvest, less long term tree growth and less understory browse, but is more aesthetically pleasing. Regardless of which method we choose, Sealaska practices stewardship for the future by utilizing the latest silviculture methods to assure healthy forests.
Myth: Sealaska is responsible for cutting down most of the old growth forestland in Southeast Alaska.
Fact: More than 75% of the old growth in Southeast Alaska has not been harvested and is permanently off limits to any development; this includes some 5 million acres on the Tongass National Forest alone, and there are more acres on non-Tongass National Forest lands here in Southeast that are protected in Bald Eagle nest tree zones, anadromous fish stream buffers and other environmentally sensitive areas.
Most of the old growth forest that has been clear cut was managed by the Forest Service. The federal government has clear cut more than five times as much as Sealaska.
Sealaska understands the sacrifice that comes with cutting old growth forest. We also understand that this small fraction of forestland provides the means for us to prosper and survive in the Tongass Forest. Because our core cultural values require us to balance our needs with those of the forest’s, Southeast Alaska is not and will never be without old growth forest!
Myth: Sealaska’s practice of round log export does results in fewer jobs and economic development than sending logs to the sawmill.
Fact: Investigations done by independent third parties show that Sealaska’s round log export produces the same number of jobs on a per million board foot basis as does the local domestic processing sawmills. These round log export jobs are in our tribal member shareholder villages, which means they can continue to live in their homes and not have to move to another town where a sawmill happens to be located.
Myth: Public access to Sealaska’s lands is prohibited.
Fact: Sealaska does not prohibit use of our land by the public however we do need to regulate use of our roads for safety and other reasons; therefore our signs ask that you call us for information. Please read more about our Land Access policy here
Many of the land selections we seek through the Haa Aaní legislation (aka Sealaska Land Bill) pending before Congress guarantees pubic access. This also includes public road easements to ensure the public’s ability to use these lands for recreation and subsistence activities. Please learn more about the Haa Aaní legislation here
Myth: Sealaska is a large publicly traded, for-profit corporation.
Fact: Sealaska is a for-profit Native owned corporation with more than 20,000 tribal member shareholders. Under federal law, shares cannot be sold; Sealaska will always remain a Native-owned corporation. Tribal member shareholders receive dividends based on Sealaska’s profits, and all profits derived from natural resources, such as forestry, are shared with other Alaska Native Regional Corporations.
Sealaska is guided by our Native values, which lead us to value such activities as saving our endangered Indigenous languages; educating our next generation through our successful scholarship program and other important cultural programs.