Save state parks

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2002

During the 25 years I lived in Alaska, I enjoyed and appreciated many programs created by giants - men and women whose vision and labor left grand legacies for us today and, with proper care, will also benefit those who follow us. These giants crafted a system of dreams, dreams that became reality, reality that includes schools, universities, roads, airports, museums, bike trails and more.

Also on this impressive list are state parks - the finest, largest state park system in America. When I think of Alaska's 100-plus state parks, I think of the giants who built the system: Bill Egan, Walter Hickel, Lowell Thomas Jr., Helen Bierne, Bill Sheffield, Jay Hammond, Sharon Cissna, Esther Wunnicke, and many, many more public servants and citizens alike; Republicans and Democrats working together to build a system that today receives more than 5 million visits each year from Alaskans and out-of-state tourists.

But today, Alaska's parks are under siege from some legislators in Juneau who do not see the value of what the giants gave us; legislators who want to dismantle parks, to lock the gates where Alaskans and visitors camp, hike, fish, picnic and boat.

It's not too late for residents to stop this short-sighted action, to save these precious places that refresh us, recreate us, connect us with the real Alaska. But you must act today. Contact your state senator - phone and fax is more effective than e-mail - and tell them to keep their hands off your parks.

Neil C. Johannsen

Bainbridge Island, Wash.

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