SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Southeast Alaska - The Ultimate Travel Destination
By Susan Walsh


January 04, 2006

I have lived in southeast Alaska since 1977 and have come to value the unique way of life it provides-fishing and crabbing; watching bald eagles, ravens, bears, and other wildlife; and getting in my boat, turning the corner and being in a wild place. There is no place like southeast Alaska left in the world.
If one was to follow the law of supply and demand i.e., if demand is up and supply down then the price rises and vice versa. Alaska has been heralded as the Last Frontier. As citizens we should do everything we can to maintain this feature. The recent McDowell group study cited revenues of $152 million dollars with 1,500 jobs generated by tourism. We face a challenge to retain a high quality of life in the face of mounting pressures for growth, homogeneity and change. Without well-designed and publicly supported strategies to preserve our unique character and surroundings Ketchikan is at risk of undermining the very assets responsible for future potential.

Think of the sight our visitors encounter before embarking on their land journeySnow capped Deer Mountain; numerous houses nestled on the hillside, the totems at Totem Bight and the lush greenery of the adjacent forests here on Revillagigedo, Pennock, Gravina and the Cleveland Peninsula. Once on shore they partake in our unique cultural opportunities available.
Ketchikan is in an enviable position, strategically located as the Gateway Community to Alaska and adjacent to the Misty Fjords National Monument.

I am the first to admit that I'm not an economist but I contend that Gravina and the Cleveland Peninsula are much more valuable to our local economy if left intact. I can think of nowhere else in the world where there is an island community with the infrastructure to serve long range visitors adjacent to a relatively pristine undeveloped island or in the case of the Cleveland a relatively quick boat/plane ride to a expansive wilderness region-How many locals have had the pleasure of the Helm Bay cabins or traipsing the beaches in Smuggler's Cove?

Twelve years ago:

1. Americans spent $18 billion a year to watch wildlife, triple what they spent on movies or sporting events. Bird-watchers alone spent $5.2 billion according to studies by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

2. According to a 1994 Roper Survey on Outdoor Recreation, fishing is the favorite recreational activity of American men. In 1991 anglers spent $24 billion, an average of $674 each. These statistics give rise to images of trails to lakes on Gravina in order to fly-fish, or authentic views of our community as visitors stay in local B&B's or shop in the grocery stores prior to embarking on a hut to hut trail hike.

A 1993 Bank of America survey concluded that public policies that protect a community's environment and quality of life help to sustain long-term economic growth.
The Forest Service is proposing the beginnings of a huge footprint into the Cleveland, the first in an extensive road network. The Emerald Bay sale is projected to provide about 12-16 mmbf of timber with a large percentage of the yellow cedar slated for export. Estimates for road building in order to liquidate public timber resources is about $1.5-3million dollars of taxpayer money. Clearcuts have not been marketable nor do they just grow back any time soon as evidenced by the local travesty seen on Slide ridge. No, we can't see the Emerald Bay sale from Ketchikan, but we can't see the Misty Fjords either. I would urge the Forest Service to focus on sustainable recreational opportunities for our locals as well as visitors.
Southeast Alaska - The Ultimate Travel Destination

"Nowhere else on earth is there such an abundance and magnificence of mountain, fjord, and glacier scenery... the Alaska coast is to become the show-place of the earth, and pilgrims, not only from the United States, but from far beyond the seas, will throng in endless procession to see it. Its grandeur is more valuable than the gold or the fish or the timber, for it will never be exhausted."
-- Henry Gannett, Chief Geographer, Alaska-Harriman Expedition, 1899
Unfortunately Mr. Gannett didn't foresee the large-scale destruction our modern age has afforded us. Mistakes have been made, but let us not continue to repeat them. Every successful business, organization, or individual has a plan for the future and our community should be no different. I would like to see a healthy economy based upon retention of the natural surroundings and community character.


Susan Walsh
E-mail: alaskancelt[AT]
Ketchikan, AK - USA


About: Resident of Southeast Alaska since 1977 and a longtime resident of Ketchikan.



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