Part of the watershed that provides drinking water for the 700 people of Kake will be protected from logging under conservation easements signed this summer with the help of federal dollars. The easements, plus a related land exchanged and compensation package authorized by Congress last year, bring to a close a 17-year effort to protect the competing interests of the city of Kake and Kake Tribal Corp. Kake Tribal, an Alaska Native corporation with about 650 shareholders, received land in the Gunnuk Creek watershed in the early 1970s as part of its allotment under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. But the city got an injunction in 1984 to stop Kake Tribal from logging on its watershed holdings because the cutting threatened the city's water supply. The easements, signed in May, protect about 2,400 acres from commercial development, but continue subsistence hunting, fishing and gathering of berries and materials for baskets. "These are historical activities that we wanted to guarantee into the future," Kake Tribal President Sam Jackson said. The easements also allow for replacement of a dam on Gunnuk Creek punctured by a tree in July 2000. It holds back the town water supply.
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