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Donald L. Finney ( McCall 1950 )

posted: May 19, 2020

Don, 85, died July 12, 2012, in Ketchikan, Alaska. He grew up in Southern California and joined the Navy in 1946. He jumped at McCall 1950-51 getting five fire jumps in 1950 and six during the 1951 season. His first fire jump was with fellow rookie, Jack Deinema.

After smokejumping in 1951, Don went to southeast Alaska where he lived in the Sitka and Ketchikan area the remainder of his life. By 1954, Don was working for the Ketchikan Pulp Company, where he worked for the remainder of his career.

In 1976, the clearcutting of timber became a contentious political and conservationist issue when a U.S. District Court decision in Alaska halted a 50-year 8.2 billion board foot timber sale on the Tongass N.F. to the Ketchikan Pulp Company.

Don was a vice president for the Ketchikan Pulp Company in charge of timber for the Ketchikan area. He said the decision “could put 3,600 of our people out of work.” A contentious period over several years ensued between the environmentalists and the timber companies, not only in Alaska, but on other national forests throughout the United States. The fisheries industry sided with the environmentalists and Don’s wife became involved when in 1988 she wrote an editorial asking why the commercial fisherman “should repeatedly go on record trying to kill the existing timber industry.”

The clearcutting issue on national forests throughout the country led (and still does) to legislative actions providing direction for management of national forests. Don was intimately involved as a customer of the Tongass N.F.