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What other say: Clean it up

Posted: September 24, 2013 - 6:38pm  |  Updated: September 24, 2013 - 6:52pm

Government isn’t our mother.

It shouldn’t need to go around after us and pick up.

And, we shouldn’t want it to. For heaven’s sake, we’ve got our pride.

At least, some of us do. Some of us don’t seem to, though.

We, as Alaskans, and specifically those with homes in Ketchikan and the surrounding area, often talk about our pride in the beautiful country in which we live. We herald its gorgeous landscapes, call it God’s country, wait anxiously for evenings and weekends for time to get out in it, and challenge Outsiders when they act as if we aren’t taking care of this treasure.

Sadly, in some cases, we’re not. We’re not taking care of it in the way we should all of the time.

For some odd reason, we’re dumping garbage hither and yon when we have a landfill at which items can be taken free of charge by all in the community. A few exceptions apply. For example, contractors’ building materials for which there is an additional charge. For others, though, it’s a matter of being directed to the appropriate spot to unload.

But, not all of us are doing that. For example, Harriet Hunt Lake. It’s a beautiful drive up to the lake through all of the trees and mountains. Then, you arrive at the parking lot by the lake, and feast your eyes on trash. Why anyone would drive all of the way up there to leave trash when the landfill isn’t any farther and may be less distance, depending on a starting point, is baffling.

Trash belongs at the landfill.

Reportedly, similar situations can be found at the end of the North Tongass Highway and along Brown Mountain Road. If disposals are happening in those spots, it’s possible any place.

The best solution would be for people to refrain from dumping their trash where it isn’t supposed to be, to respect the land entrusted to us. But given that that isn’t happening in some cases, and it’s fairly difficult to enforce laws prohibiting such dumping without 24/7 surveillance, other solutions might be tried.

For starters, students occasionally seek service projects as a way to thank the community for financially supporting their extra-curricular activities. Here’s such a project.

Some businesses might even make a significant donation in exchange for students cleaning up. The Kayhi wrestling team, specifically, annually offers its services in exchange for cash as a way to pay at least a part of its season’s expenses. The Kayhi drill team has done clean-up projects around town as a way to pay back. Maybe this is the type of cleanup that could be included on a team’s schedule.

Individuals and organizations, perhaps clubs, might adopt a spot. It would be like the adopt-a-mile, clean-up project on Tongass Highway. Various people and clubs adopt a mile and keep it tidy. Whether it’s a mile of highway or a parking lot, it’s a community service project.

Or, anyone, when out driving and hiking, could take along a garbage bag and pick up a little trash. One person wouldn’t have to do it all, but if everyone does a little, then cluttered spots get cleaned up.

This will save us the expense of paying the government to do it — which it shouldn’t have to do. But if it does, it will lead to higher expenses, costing more money, and indeed those funds might need to come from taxpayers.

Instead of paying more in an economy requiring not only government but business to do more with less, instead of leaving it to the government to do, let’s clean up — and not throw trash in such places as lakes and trails.

Then we can take pride in keeping Alaska clean. Then we can respond honestly when we say we’re taking care of this land. We can enjoy it because the places where we go really will be a beautiful and sightly.

— Ketchikan Daily News, Sept. 14

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