WEST SUSITNA ACCESS SHOULD BENEFIT ALL ALASKANS
Millions of acres of state-owned lands lie west of the Susitna River, within the boundaries of the MatSu Borough. These lands are currently inaccessible to everyday Alaskans who don’t own a plane and who can’t afford to stay at a high-dollar lodge.
The Good News? There is plenty of land west of the Susitna to be shared by all, and the list of known resources and potential opportunities in the area is long: minerals, energy resources, agricultural lands, timber, fisheries, and wildlife. There are recreational resources that could one day attract new facilities like campgrounds, boat launches, and trail access points, and there are options for state land sales.
Even better? The State has proposed a 100-mile road that would stretch from its current terminus at Ayshire Road by the Little Susitna River to an area north of Mount Susitna and along the permitted Donlin Pipeline route up through the Skwentna River Valley. This road to multiple resource areas would lead to greater state revenues and an economic boost for Mat-Su businesses. More importantly, the road would launch thousands of good-paying jobs that would provide a greater standard of living for many Alaskans.
The Bad News? An anti-development group from outside Alaska (Trout Unlimited) is already testifying at hearings and opposing the road and so are a handful of lodges that cater to an elite class of clients – trying to keep the rest of Alaskans out of these millions of acres of state-owned lands.
When did it become so difficult to build a road in Alaska, and why?
Ask yourself – which roads and highways do you wish we had never built in this state? The Parks? The Seward? The Sterling? The Denali? The Taylor? The Dalton? Alaskans and tourists use them all, every day for work and for play. It’s hard to imagine experiencing Alaska without these critical pieces of Alaskan transportation infrastructure that provide so many people with access to so much beautiful country and so many resources.
It’s not surprising that the few lodge owners, who each own just a few acres, want to retain the millions of acres of state-owned lands out their back doors as their own private playground from which they – and they alone – can profit from guiding wealthy big game hunters and hosting tourists from foreign countries.
That business model blocks everyday Alaskans from the good paying jobs, resources, and enjoyment of the land that an access road would provide.
To keep these lands to themselves and their elite clientele, the lodge owners have made no reservations about wanting to kill the road entirely – and along with it, kill the thousands of Alaskan jobs and millions of dollars in state revenues that would result.
Alaskans – don’t let this road be stopped before it starts. Let the state work through the public process and define the public access component. Let the process work. The lands west of the Susitna are a shared resource that should maximize benefits to the state and all its residents.