Alaskans should curb effects of tourism

Posted: Sunday, November 08, 2009

I have debated writing this letter for the past two years, but feel something desperately needs to be done. I lived in Southeast Alaska from 1978 to 1991. Currently I live in Oregon, but I visit Southeast Alaska every year.

Each year, I cannot help but notice the changes going on. The number of charter boats and cruise ships in Southeast is ridiculous. I grew up in Southeast, worked at the sawmill in Haines, did some commercial fishing, and am a strong believer in the idea that the state's resources should produce jobs for Alaskans.

You are allowing outsiders to come in and take massive quantities of your resources with what seems like little regulation and control. Meanwhile, the families and heritage of this state and everything it once stood for suffers, along with the sustainability of all of its resources.

I am sure that many years ago, the people in California never thought the fish would be gone; yet, today, San Francisco has nothing. You are kidding yourself if you think this could never happen to Alaska. I see advertisements down south drawing tourists to the "Last Frontier," with fishing opportunities like no place on earth. Meanwhile, I fly out of the Juneau airport every August and see happy tourists with hundreds of fish boxes heading back south.

Yes, I bring one fish box back to Oregon with me at times, but pay more to do so seeing because I am no longer a resident. I love Alaska and absolutely hate to see the lasting affects of tourism. Towns are suffering from the loss of logging and the impact on fishing, and I do not believe tourism is a sustainable option for Alaska, as it will eventually ruin the state just as it has many others.

You need Alaskans working in your state who are going to put that money made back into the economy. Don't give it away to those that make it and take it: cruise ship companies, out-of-state charter owners, tourists, etc. If they do come to visit, make them pay higher prices for using up the state's resources, and make state representatives use these funds to sustain what you have.

What you do have is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Please keep it that way for all future Alaskans, and those that come not only to enjoy, but respect the great land that it is.

Jesse Bolander

Lebanon, Ore.

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