Upcoming Comment Deadline


 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement offering a range of alternatives to roadless management and a proposed Alaska Roadless Rule.

If adopted, the proposed rule would exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule. The USDA Forest Service will publish the documents in the Federal Register this week. The publication will begin a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule, and on each alternative outlined in the draft environmental impact statement.

The public has until midnight on Dec. 16, 2019, to submit comments on the documents. Comments can be submitted the following ways:

For more information, visit:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/roadmain/roadless/alaskaroadlessrule.

The Federal Register Notice is available here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/10/17/2019-22638/special-areas-roadless-area-conservation-national-forest-system-lands-in-alaska

 

Proposals for Ballot Measures


It’s a few days after Election Day 2019, and there have been some interesting stories related to upcoming elections. Many are focused on the National level for 2020, but there are key local issues that will be considered.

In Oregon, Timber interests propose three pro-logging ballot measures. The industry says the measures would: 1. Give Oregon counties and the industry more control over how members of the Board of Forestry are selected. 2. Amend the constitution requiring the state to fully compensate woodland owners for any new regulations that limited their ability to log, such as expanded stream buffers. 3. Require that the forestry board use “non-biased” and “peer reviewed science”to come up with consensus-based policies.

These measures are the industry’s response to three ballot measures filed earlier this year by environmental groups. The Environmental Groups proposals would “tighten aerial herbicide spraying rules, increase forest stream buffers, prohibit logging in steep, landslide-prone areas, and prohibit conflicts of interest for state forestry board appointees.” These petitions are currently the subject of litigation.

Light filters through trees in Oregon State Park
Tryon Creek State Natural Area, Portland, OR

Sticker in snow reads "'Naligaaniktna!' I voted!"

APOC abused its discretion and “should reinstate enforcement of the contribution limits at issue.”

Campaign Finance

In Alaska, three citizens had filed Complaints against the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) for failing to enforce campaign contributions. The Superior Court concluded that APOC abused its discretion and “should reinstate enforcement of the contribution limits at issue.” 

The Complaints alleged that two groups, Interior Voters for John Coghill (“Interior Voters”) and Working Families of Alaska (“Working Families”), had accepted monetary contributions that exceeded the limitations of AS 15.13.070. Interior Voters and Working Families are entities created to support particular candidates for political office and meet the definition of groups. They are generally what are considered PAC’s

There is a lot of history in the opinion about campaign contribution limits in Alaska. It also considers federal law, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, and how the State reacted to Citizens United. It is very likely this case will be appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court.

As Common Dreams reports, this could be a way around Citizens United and its impacts on campaign contribution limits.

Equal Citizens has the court’s opinion here.

 

Alaska Federation of Natives Convention

Photo of AFN Convention
Panel presentation at AFN

This year, I was fortunate to attend the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Fairbanks, AK.

This year’s theme was “Good Government, Alaskan Driven.” The panels focused on the recent budget cycle, and the requirements under the Alaska Constitution to provide certain services to state citizens. 

This included separate panels on public education, public health, and public welfare. There were a lot of good discussions about what services should provided and aren’t because of the cuts, and how this impacts Alaska Native communities throughout the State.

 

Quyana

Unfortunately, my schedule to this year’s convention was tough! I missed a connection in Seattle, and didn’t arrive until 7 am. I was able to have good conversations with colleagues and friends. And learned more from the different conversations to help clients in Alaska navigate the challenges ahead.

Photo of dance group at AFN in Fairbanks
Nagsragmiut Inland Eskimo Dancers from Anaktuvuk Pass, AK

And was able to watch some of the dance groups at Quyana Alaska I the first night. Quyana is “thank you” in Yup’ik.

Find the conversations on social media with the hashtags:

#GOODGOVERNMENT

#ALASKANDRIVEN

#2019AFN

Welcome

In Fall 2019, I have launched my solo law practice, and this blog.  I will focus on legal topics that might be of interest to you!

This includes updates on important issues for tribes, tribal organizations, non-profits and small businesses. It will also include information related to climate change and climate adaptation.

Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And feel free to contact me with comments, questions or ideas for new posts.

This Blog is posted for information only. If you need legal advice, please contact me directly.