Ferry system should be made a priority

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, December 18, 2006

Gov. Sarah Palin needs to make improving the Alaska Marine Highway System a priority and keep Berners Bay from being a dumping ground.

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The Alaska Marine Highway should be Palin's top priority, because the ferries are the coastal communities' lifeline. There should be ferry service all year round for both locals and tourists alike.

The ferries have been a part of Southeast Alaska for a very long time. The so-called road out of Juneau would only service a mining company. I believe Southeast Alaska and the Alaska Marine Highway has more precedence over any road to a Coeur Alaska mine.

Berners Bay has been a Mecca for wildlife and for endangered species such as the Steller sea lion, humpback whale and brown bear. Berners Bay is traditional land for the Auke tribe, which consists of two clans: the Ya' xte hit (Big Dipper House, Wooshkeet Taun Tribe) and Til' hit Tribe (the Dog Salmon House). These two clans protected Berners Bay by respecting its ecosystem for hundreds of years. To have any mining waste in the waters of Berners Bay would destroy that environment and would cause a rippling effect for all marine and land mammals alike.

The Kensington Mine would need to bring in ports, barges and a road that would threaten the herring and eulachon runs. The mine will cause great harm to the environment and the pristine clean waters. The other bad move - using Lower Slate Lake for mine waste disposal - must not happen.

Keep Berners Bay from becoming a dumping waste ground, once and for all.

Leimomi Matunding

Juneau



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