Dear Editor

by Frank Keim

Well everybody, the Arctic Man weekend is over, and now it’s time to reflect on what you accomplished.
To haul yourself and your snow machines to the Gulkana Glacier-Summit Lake area in your behemoth pickups and RVs, you spewed more than 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Racing around in your highly inefficient mostly two cycle snow machines you probably spewed another million pounds of carbon dioxide into our once clear Alaskan skies.
Using your machines on the surface of an area that drains into that loveliest of Alaska Range lakes left scars of exhaust carbon and petroleum residues that when melted into surface water will cumulatively pollute Summit Lake, which is the spawning ground of many Copper River red salmon. Not to mention the Gulkana River which drains the lake and is the main route of travel of these fish.
Anadromous waters such as these are not supposed to be compromised by motorized vehicles. Four years ago when I mentioned this to the Dept. of Fish and Game they blew me off. Under Governor Palin, this could change, but I doubt it will because of the tremendous political influence of the snowmachine industry. I suspect Fish and Game hasn’t even done a baseline study of the area to determine possible future scenarios for the red salmon that travel and spawn in these waters.
In the 1960s this region was my favorite hunting, hiking, mountain climbing and cross-country skiing country in Alaska. Where once all you heard was the sound of footsteps and gliding skis in the silent immensity of the mountains, now, at this time of year, all you hear is the roar of polluting snow machines.
Especially in a period of war and dramatically quickening climate change the Arctic Man seems to me to be a frivolous and hugely wasteful abuse of this area, and of the earth’s air and climate in general. It should be halted. Of course, it won’t be until the price of fuel goes up to about 10 dollars per gallon. Let’s hope that happens sooner than later!

Frank Keim