On June 5, Rich Poor's My Turn painted an idyllic picture of the Juneau access road with all sorts of expanded recreational opportunities such as new campsites, cabins, trails and beach access. It sounds nice.
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For a preview, I encourage Mr. Poor to spend a weekend enjoying our current out-the-road recreational opportunities. Go camping at the Echo Cove campground - relax in the tranquility of the all-terrain vehicles (mufflers optional), guns and alcohol. Too much action for your tastes? Then hike down to one of the quiet roadside beaches along the way. Share the site with one of the semi-permanent encampments with its blue tarps, piles of trash and human sewage. Take in the uplifting sight of discarded appliances along the road during your drive.
What will we get with the extension of our road? More of the same, if things don't change.
I'm willing to concede that this road will be built, despite legitimate questions regarding cost, safety and visual and environmental impacts. And I won't be too proud to drive it myself. But now I want to know, who is going to manage it?
Clearly the present management system is not working. It takes resources and political will to do this job right. Are our government agencies developing a management plan? Who will be responsible for this plan? The Forest Service? The state? The city? Are they gathering citizen input? Who will provide the badly needed law enforcement? Where will the money come from?
Twenty years from now, perhaps this road will be seen as a positive feature of the community. But what if it yields more of what we already have out there? If we're going to do this thing, please, let's do it right.
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