A story in Wednesday's Empire, "SE Residents Leaving Towns," failed to analyze several factors contributing to the Southeast Alaska's demographic shift. It's true places like Hobart Bay, Labouchere Bay and Long Island have shrunk dramatically or have completely emptied, but to tie their demise to timber mill shutdowns is inaccurate. The fact is Hobart Bay, Labouchere Bay, Dora Bay, Port Alice and Long Island are gone because most of the trees are gone. Those who worked and lived at these camps cut their way out of a job.
Other outlying communities like Pelican, Elfin Cove, Point Baker, Port Protection, Port Alexander and Myers Chuck have not been hit by logging downturns but they have been negatively impacted by other environmental factors. Dams and habitat destruction have decimated salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. Impacts from these reductions ripple all the way to Southeast Alaska. And the rise of farm-raised salmon has depressed wild salmon prices.
Increasing the value of the things we produce, extracting resources in a more sustainable way, and adequately funding the needs of outlying communities will help us get rural Southeast Alaska back on track.
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