Thursday's Empire article on the latest capital move attempt gives a troubling and inaccurate account of the issues facing Southeast Alaska communities and Juneau's role in the region's economic well being. Yes, all Southeast Alaskans should support our neighboring communities in need, however the idea that we must stand lock step on all issues does more damage than good. The fact that Juneau is sometimes more aligned with other communities in the region should be not used as political blackmail on the capital move issue. This fight will be won or lost in the railbelt communities, a lack of recognition in Wrangell or Ketchikan of what a capital move would mean to them only serves to divert energy unnecessarily.
Juneau's ongoing efforts to maintain its status as state capital in the face of the unrelenting political and population shift to the Anchorage bowl is not unique. All Southeast Alaska communities face the difficult task of filling the void left by the downturn in the timber market and transition to true multiple use forest management, struggling with a commercial fishing industry that is losing the battle with farmed fish from B.C. and beyond, and facing the massive growth in tourism and the impacts our environment, lifestyles, and livelihoods.
Critics' attempts to blame Juneau's elected officials, organizations, and citizens for world timber markets, federal forest policies, and the growth in farm salmon production, or population shift do not hold water. If fact, the positions Juneau has taken in support of wild salmon, cruise ship industry controls, capital city improvements, and Tongass National Forest planning benefits all communities despite arguments to the contrary.
As a Juneau resident and a Southeast Alaskan, I hope communities will recognize the importance of keeping the capital in Juneau and support our efforts, just as I hope Juneau will continue to seek out ways to support our neighbors as they work towards a future we can all live with.
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