Losing Our Soul, Speeding
Up Around a Blind Curve
By Jill Bohr Jacob
February 13, 2007
"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world,
and loses his own soul?" Mark 8:36
What do we profit if we gain development but lose the land?
I had a friend tell me the other night she was thinking about
leaving Ketchikan. She said Jill, everything I love here, the
things I moved here for, are going.
This was the same day that I read the state awarded a $25.7 million
contract to Kiewit Pacific of Anchorage to build the Gravina
Island Highway, a 3.2 mile gravel road starting near the intersection
of the Lewis Reef Road/Airport Access Road and ending near the
west channel, construction on the highway could start by mid-summer.
In the summer of 2003 we witnessed dead fry in tidal pools on
Gravina. The US Global Change Research Program cites large-scale
kills of unspawned salmon following warmer summer weather and
extended rainless intervals increasing the number and duration
of low stream flow episodes; the conditions that block the return
of spawning salmon. Alaska Fish and Game has noted the die-offs
are exacerbated by clear cutting and road building. I didn't
want this $8 million per mile road on Gravina, did you?
Also, the same day, our newspaper ran this story: the state is
seeking public comment regarding its proposed Whipple Creek Timber
Sale. The sale of 27.6 acres would yield an estimated 500,000
board feet of timber from 300-to-400 year old western hemlocks,
Sitka spruces and red cedars on state land about a mile east
of Pond Reef. The proposed sale has characteristics of an old-growth
forest, within a mature Coastal Region. The Division of Forestry
said the Whipple Creek sale probably wouldn't provide a lot of
timber for local mills. But bless their hearts, even though these
400 year old trees will be exported, the contractors doing the
cutting are doing us a favor since they're already cutting right
next to this parcel. Bless their hearts. Guess the State isn't
worried about the massive die-off of Yellow Cedar due to declining
snow pack freezing the cedars shallow root systems or that gale-force
windstorms in southern coastal forests have doubled in number
since 1950. In other words, blow down big-time. I don't want
anything cut, much less exported, near the Whipple Creek watershed,
Our beloved Coast Guard Beach
and South Point Higgins Beach are owned by the Alaska Mental
Health Trust and slated for development while just nine percent
of shoreline accessible by the road system on Revilla Island
is under public management and available for public use. These
beaches and other AMHT lands, Surprise Beach, and Mountain Point
Beach, boat launch and harbor are 1/3 of the nine percent of
available Ketchikan recreation land. Who here in the community
wants these beaches developed?
I thought it was very funny
last week when I heard Alaskan politicians debating hot air.
Get it? Politicians debating hot air. They were debating methane
gas, CO2, what and how much is being released from the northern
tundra and how to contain it. They were not debating WHO is releasing
the most hot air on our congressional floors, and definitely
not debating how climate change is affecting us here in the Tongass.
The amount of development in and around Ketchikan at this incredible
time is like speeding up while driving around a blind curve,
something teenagers are apt to try. Although after 15 years of
accompanying teenagers with their learner s permits, I m convinced
teenagers would make smarter decisions than these.
So this is the state of the Shire now. Do we, will we, can we
have a voice in any or all of these land grabs, or shall we all
go RV camping in the Wal-Mart parking lot? We could set up wading
Oh, and by the way, to round
out a bad year for beaches and trees, right now the Forest Service
is working on the Tongass Land Management Plan and their final
decision is due out late this summer, comments received until
What do we profit if we gain
development but lose the land? And who is profiting? Are you?
Jill Bohr Jacob
Received February 13, 2007 - Published February 13, 2007
About: "Ketchikan resident"
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on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
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