July 12, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 28

Opinion

If illegal dumping at roadsides weren’t a serious issue here, sorting through trash to identify its owner would seem a little funny, along the lines of Arlo Guthrie’s retort in the classic protest song, “Alice’s Restaurant”: “Officer Obey, I cannot tell a lie. I put that envelope underneath that pile of garbage.”

But dumping is a problem. It can habituate bears to human sources of food, leading to run-ins with people and eventual injury or death, for people or bears. Depending on what’s in the trash, dumping also can pollute local streams, poisoning our water and the fish we eat.

We report in this week’s paper on a rare conviction involving dumping. But police continue to report that bears are finding and getting into human sources of food at various places around town. Without more convictions, or a better solution, we’re likely to keep feeding bears, then killing them.

That’s too bad. To live in proximity to brown bears is a rare thing and a kind of gift to us. For now, we’re making a sow’s ear out of a silk purse.

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There’s something about donning a winter coat in July that’s just so Alaskan. Not Alaskan like you see in the tourist brochures, but real Alaskan, like the backside of a storefront unseen by visitors, heaped with rusty oil barrels, five-gallon buckets and broken-down equipment. The myth of Alaska is that we Alaskans are special, a breed apart, tough and resourceful. The truth is that we are mostly ordinary folks, living in an extraordinary place. This summer, however, we get a chance to live up to our myths, to keep our winter boots on, to go picnicking in the wind and rain, to burn the woodstove in July. We get to measure ourselves against the myth. That’s not all bad.

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Although my dream is to ride a bicycle around the world, as of July 1 I am the owner of the Chilkat Valley News. If you have a gripe with anything you see printed in these pages, or even if you don’t, stop in or call. The newspaper office is located above the dentist’s office on Main Street. We always have snacks. If I can’t make you happy, I’ll at least give you something to chew on.

-- Tom Morphet