SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Government with wrong priorities for Gravina Island
By Amy Kay Snider


February 27, 2007
Tuesday PM

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter in response to Ketchikan projects occurring on Gravina Island within the Tongass National Forest. As an Alaskan, I am very concerned with the growing number of projects on Gravina Island. I understand that our government is more interested in development and the health of the economy rather than the health and vitality of its inhabitants. I have read comments by both George Bush and Lisa Murkowski, saying they would not accept laws that would harm the economy. This is clearly evident by the way in which projects are processed. There are several issues in which revision and maintenance need to be implemented, some of these issues include the environment and others involve dollars.

Since money seems to be the main prerogative to the decision makers, the bottom line is we are misusing valuable fiscal resources by creating these roads, one of these projects include the Gravina Access Highway. It is stated that, the Gravina Access Highway, at $25.7 million and 3.2 miles, was rushed to contract under the Murkowski administration on December 1, 2006, $8 million per mile for a gravel road . This is a huge sum of money that could be used in ways more valuable to Alaskans. It is also suggested that, the Army Corps of Engineers staff was placed under immense pressure to permit a bad project whose stated need has gone away due to lack of bridge funding. This project was permitted on December 20, 2006 . It is often the case in this day and age to find these pressures on agencies to do things that knowingly may be damaging either environmentally or economically. So, if for no other reason I urge that the Governor terminates the contract for fiscally responsible reasons. Aside from the monetary reasons we do have the responsibility of caring for the land that was so kindly given to us to live on.

We must, as a conscientious and wise society, take a closer look into the decisions we are making and the impacts they will have on the environment and our future. Though the generations before us had a bigger box and more resources to play with, it has left the future looking grim for the next generation. The younger generation, as well as those that have the chance to follow, have vast environmental concerns, due to not thoroughly thought out choices of the past.

I feel it is my responsibility as an Alaskan and inhabitant of this land to acknowledge these issues. Some of these concerns include, Murkowski era, Roads to Resources Bostwick Road. Even though each agency involved with the road (DNR, DOT, USFS, Borough) stated this road will remain open for recreational and other purposes, no permits were ever sought for this road under the Clean Water Act via the Army Corps of Engineers. Corps staff visited the site and was appalled by the conditions and lack of permitting. At least 4 unpermitted pits are in place illegally. Erosion controls are all but non-existent. Wetlands have been destroyed by haphazard construction . These are some serious issues that damage a very delicately balanced ecosystem and through this chain reaction will affect the beauty of these areas and the quality of life. For these reasons I urge that the governor close the state road and end all activity until proper Corps permits are in place, mitigation is performed to curtail damage, and erosion controls are in place. These decisions are fundamental to the future health, vitality and beauty of Alaska.

Though today our representative government may have strong beliefs in an overdeveloped infrastructure it is important to understand the long term consequences these developments will have on the environment; thus affecting the quality of life of all living things.

Thank you for your time,

Amy Kay Snider
Ester, Alaska

Received February 25, 2007 - Published February 27, 2006

About: "A student and resident of Ester, Alaska, with a great love and appreciation for the Tongass."




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