My name is Sophia Polasky and I am a 20-year-old lifelong resident of Juneau. I was born at the Bartlett Memorial Hospital in 1984 and graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 2002. I am attending school at the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University in Minnesota, but the only house I have ever known as a permanent residence is the one I still come home to.
I attended the Kensington hearing last night and listened with particular interest to those expressing an interest to provide jobs to the next generation - my generation - through the mining industry. It's a generous gift being proposed, economic stability, but I don't believe it to be real or lasting. According to the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the U.S. Forest Service, 80 percent of the mining jobs would come from the Lower 48. Only 20 percent (approximately 45 jobs) would be available for Alaska residents to fill. What concerns me is that those 45 jobs come at the expense of something greater, our real inheritance, which includes things like untouched wilderness and clean water.
I can think of a superior gift. Leave us the quality of life we enjoyed as children: the opportunity to escape civilization, to fish with the expectation of catching something, and to know that our backyards remain unpolluted. That's what I remember while I'm away at school, and it's what draws me back each summer. Leave us a genuine heritage because it's what will really induce us to return.