Native peoples throughout Alaska have made their homes and their livelihood from the rich resources of the land and sea. As a major land manager in southeast and southcentral Alaska, the Forest Service desires a close working relationship with numerous Alaska Native groups. Rural Alaska Natives face many economic challenges, including the small size and remoteness of local markets, the high cost of labor and fuel, the lack of basic infrastructure, economic capacity, and sustainability. Approximately one-third of rural Alaska Native households remain without solid-waste, sewer, and drinking-water infrastructure. It is costly and challenging to construct, operate, and maintain facilities. Disproportionate impacts on low-income, rural Alaska Native populations may raise issues of environmental justice. These facts have resulted in the Alaska Region taking a closer look at conducting tribal consultation, building government-to-government relationships, and carrying out trust responsibilities to tribes.
The Alaska Region tailored the existing Forest Service tribal relations guidelines to meet Alaska laws and regional needs relative to natural resource management. The region continues to identify areas of mutual interest, to understand community needs, and to promote the hiring of Alaska Natives in timber thinning, fire suppression, trails development, cabin maintenance, and healthy forests initiatives. The region s planning strategies increased Native hires in management-level positions to further strengthen relationships and improve our Native knowledge base. The region works to minimize the impact of tourism development and growth on Native communities, to stimulate economic development, and to help communities garner grants.
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