First Forester for Sealaska and Originator of Land Selections Passes

Sealaska is saddened at the loss of our first corporate forester, Pete Huberth. The board and staff were notified Huberth passed, Thursday, February 9, 2017.  

L to R – Pete Huberth, Robert Sanderson Sr., Marlene Johnson, Judson Brown and Steve Jacoby

After a career with Southeast Alaska saw and paper mills, Huberth began working with Sealaska in the mid-1970’s as one of its first employees. His role as Sealaska’s Corporate Forester was to work with Sealaska board and management to identify lands in Southeast Alaska that Sealaska would select under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). ANCSA was the largest land agreement with the United States and indigenous people and is the law by which Southeast Native corporations received land entitlements. (Pictured right - Ernie Hillman and Pete Huberth)

“As a result of his tremendous efforts, Huberth has provided Sealaska the opportunity to pursue a natural resource program that offers meaningful financial results and economic opportunity in our villages.” said Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott. “Sealaska is committed to maintaining opportunities for today and for future generations, through balanced land management.”

In addition to guiding Sealaska, Huberth also worked with the board and executives of Southeast Village and Urban Corporations to recommend lands suitable for selection under the ANCSA provisions. More recently, he worked closely with the five landless communities to identify possible land selections that could be part of the Landless land claim settlement. Huberth’s early land selection recommendations left a lasting legacy that continues to benefit Sealaska Corporation and Southeast village corporations. He will be remembered for his photographic memory, his knowledge of the land base and the ability to use available tools like timber inventories and aerial photos as well as flying the lands. This expertise was beneficial for securing valuable lands for both Sealaska and Southeast village corporations.

“I had the joy of working with Huberth for decades and can say unequivocally that he was a solid professional who was honest with a high ethical standard,” said former Sealaska Natural Resources Manager Ron Wolfe. “This enabled him to assist Sealaska from the beginning with ANCSA land selections and for decades to come, through many land management projects and issues.”

Huberth’s knowledge, continued to be valuable to Sealaska after his employment ended. He was a long-time consultant to the Natural Resources department with many accomplishments. One notable accomplishment was securing escrow payments from the federal government.  Through ANCSA the government was obligated to escrow funds the Forest Service received for use of lands set aside for Sealaska selection before the land was conveyed.  The Forest Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) calculated the federal government owed Sealaska almost $350,000 in escrow. Huberth knew the escrow sums were substantively underestimated based on his knowledge of Forest Service activities on land that would become Sealaska’s. Using Pete’s guidance and analysis, Sealaska disagreed with government escrow estimates of $350,000 and subsequently received payment of over $10 million in escrow payments. 

When Huberth was not working with Sealaska or traversing Sealaska lands, he could be found on the slopes of Eaglecrest. He was the Eaglecrest area manager several years in the early 80’s and continued to be a dedicated skier. He is recalled saying he loved skiing because it gave him the ability to move a bit faster than he could walk.

His wife, Jan Huberth, worked for Sealaska for many years, working in the finance department as well as the Natural Resources department.

Because of his leadership, knowledge and passion, Huberth became a very good friend of the Native community. His Sealaska family thanks him for his contributions and we will miss him dearly.

Additional memories of Pete Huberth

“Peter was also loyal not only to Sealaska but to family; until his father-in-law’s passing, Peter would give Jan a ride to work at Natural Resources and work there as if well if he had projects, but daily he would leave mid-morning and walk to his father-in-law’s apartment administer medication without complaint.  He had a good heart and was compassionate.  His vast experience gave him a good foundation to provide personal and professional guidance to those of us younger and less experienced in our respective careers.  I can think of quite of few who would happily agree and join me in appreciation of this.    

I am sure many will recall that Peter was quite an athlete, we would see him all over Juneau throughout the years running long distances; our very own Forrest Gump.  That is until he literally ran out of his hip and required hip replacement.  This began his journey as a bionic man with multiple joint replacements.  But he continued his athleticism by bicycling, hiking, exercise at the pool and of course skiing.  I can tell you he was quite a sight in the summer when he came to the office in his short exercise shorts. 

Peter had a good and full life and I am saddened with his passing.  I will miss him and will join many others who loved this wonderful man.”   -----Ron Wolfe, former Sealaska Natural Resources Manager

 

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