Goldbelt's timeline doesn't match up

Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009

I recently wrote a letter to the Empire, questioning Goldbelt, Inc.'s claim that its dream of recreational development in Hobart Bay was actually stymied by the passage of the head tax. My observation was that the total clearcutting of the corporation's land in Hobart Bay left that area void of scenic values.

The response of Mr. Bob Martin, a long-time Goldbelt, Inc. board member, was interesting and reminded me of two things I had forgotten:

1. The validity of my opinion was a function of my racial background. Mr. Martin suggested that my opinion was not worthy because I was a "non-Native". Really, those were his words. I thought we were past that kind of thinking.

2. I had forgotten that clearcut areas can be called "wilderness" - even though it's now grown over with even-aged trees, so densely spaced that no light reaches the ground beneath them and only a weasel can squeeze between their trunks. Alaska Department of Fish and Game studies have shown convincingly that such areas become virtually devoid of significant wildlife for many generations. But some might still call that "wilderness."

But let's not lose focus here: The current issue is the correlation Goldbelt, Inc. made between the tourist head tax and the company's inability to convince a large investor to develop a destination resort in Hobart Bay. The company has owned and devastated Hobart Bay over a period of approximately 30 years. Blaming the two-year-old head tax for a 30-year-old problem ignores management shortsightedness as the real problem the corporation faces.

The company has tourist businesses now that rely on the patronage of the cruise ship companies for customers. So it is no surprise that Goldbelt officials join the industry chorus for a repeal of that tax.

James W. McGowan


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