It may seem like an unusual pairing: Florida-based sunglasses manufacturers Costa Del Mar has released a film, "Blue Highway," which seeks to inform the public about both sides of the issue surrounding the Juneau Access Road.
But because of the outdoor nature of their product, Costa Del Mar sponsors and supports many conservation projects.
The issue was brought to the attention of Al Perkinson, vice president of marketing for Costa Del Mar, through a friendship with the Alaska Mountain Guides. On a kayak expedition between Juneau and Skagway that traced John Muir's historic trip, talk of the road soon came up, and Perkinson got a personal view of the issue in a true Southeast Alaska way.
"The weather turned really bad. We were pushed off our schedule. We ended up camping in Berner's Bay," Perkinson said.
While in Berner's Bay they hiked around and took a floatplane to the glacier. They were amazed at the lush, working ecosystem and began to wonder, in Perkinson's words, "why the road was so important that it would go through such a pristine area."
The 25-minute film strives to present both sides of the over 30-year old argument. It features interviews with a variety of people, including former Juneau state senator, Kim Elton.
While the documentary strives to be unbiased, Perkinson has his own opinion.
"After spending time in Berner's Bay, experiencing the magic of the place, personally I would hate to see it destroyed."
The documentary premiered at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colo. as part of Costa Del Mar's emphasis on educating not only Alaskans but people down South.
"We have the chance to educate the rest of the country about an important issue that's happening in one of the most pristine states in the Union," Perkinson said.
While it may seem like a regional issue to us, Perkinson said the appreciation for Alaska in the lower-48 has sparked interest there as well. He said the more developed areas of our country are looking at us to not make the same mistakes they did.
The movie is available online at www.bluehighway.org. An Alaska Mountain Guides booth at the Southeast Alaska Fair will also distributing free copies of the DVD.