Last week, I took a drive out the highway to where I grew up and as I came up the hill towards home, I recognized a hard reality: The forest I played in when I was little isn’t there any more.

Now, I know that logging has always been an essential Alaskan livelihood, so here is my question: Why burn beautiful timber as we continue to build with lumber shipped all the way from Idaho, milled from trees barely big enough for a 2×4? What are we going to do when tug boat fuel costs $12 a gallon? Up here we still have so much opportunity to make good decisions about our resources. Buy local lumber, don’t burn it as firewood. I know many of us have access to enough standing dead trees to make it through the winter and an operation like Buster Benson’s mill was greatly appreciated for many years. Why can’t it be again?

I have a lot of respect for Haines businesses and it’s not my desire to see anyone go out of business. But it’s hard to sit by and see one of our valley’s prized resources literally go up in smoke. Let’s sit down and see what changes we need to make now, so in 10 years we’re not living in styrofoam houses and burning coal to stay warm. I love this place. Can we make it last?

                                    Merrick Bochart