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In this issue of Alaska Mining we are reviewing Alaska’s “Roads to Resources” program
and what it means to Alaskan miners.

Here is what it is:

Quoted from the Report of the Alaska Minerals Commission 2004
"Many of the major mineral and coal deposits in Alaska are “stranded” and remain undeveloped because there is no road access to existing road and/or rail, major rivers, or to tidewater. The last major road built in the state was the 52-mile road from the Red Dog Mine to the DeLong Mountain Transportation System port near Kivalina in 1988. Public road access could benefit many areas, including the Ambler mineral belt, the northwest Arctic and Beluga coalfields, the area around and west of Illiamna, the McGrath to Aniak region, and the Goodpaster mining district.

Although Alaska Statutes AS 19.30.020 and 19.30.030 address development access roads, the funding available, even if inflation adjusted, would probably not even begin to cover the costs of permitting. During the next few years it is possible that significant funding for access improvement might be available through GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) bonds , the Denali Commission, and special federal appropriations similar to those used in Appalachia.

The Governor direct the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities to prepare a prioritized list of potential “Roads to Resources”, and investigate mechanisms whereby funds can be made available for a long-term program. This program would ideally create unrestricted public road links between potential resource development areas and existing overland supply lines (roads and/or rail), major rivers, or tidewater."

Here is what we think:

To start my review, I want to relate one of my personal experiences about this program with “outsiders” in the lower 48.

It was at a Thanksgiving Holiday meal in Portland Oregon, that I was sharing my excitement over the needed benefit that the Roads to Resources would bring to Alaska. Well...the Oregonians at this meal let me have it with both barrels about what a “horrible environmental disaster” that would be to a pristine Alaska.

I didn’t really want to do it...but I felt an obligation to set the record straight right then and there for these "green" Oregon residents.

Don’t get me wrong I do not have a problem with going green, but enough is enough! They lacked the info to properly make a judgement.

So... I needed to inform them that, unlike the lower 48, Alaska only has a very few roads going to anywhere. Even our state capitol does not have a road going to it. (Although one has been on the drawing board for years.) I ask them to imagine what their life would be like if all, but say 4 roads, in Oregon were eliminated?

Next I had to address the problem that we Alaskans have with being the relief of all “outsiders” guilty conscious. They have made their lives easier and richer by removing most of their “pristine” areas, so they use Alaska as their shining pristine star to point to and say, “See we still have a HUGE pristine area in the good ‘ol USA.” “Well” I said, “do you know that Alaska, being 2 and 1/2 times larger than Texas and if overlain on a map of the lower 48 including the Aleutian Islands would stretch from coast to coast, border to border, still only 2 % of the whole of Alaska has been altered in any way, including dog sled trails, etc., by man?” Even Russia is pressing for a railway across the Bering Strait to give Alaska and them both access, world wide, for much needed resources.

The bottom line of my conversation was that if they agreed to go back to the nineteenth century with their states transportation ways, then we would be more prone to listen to their requests to keep our state locked in the past.

So as you can probably tell by now, we here at Alaska Mining are all for the Governors “Road to Resources” program! It’s about time Alaska gets with it and is allowed to help our country out with some much needed resources!

On the following pages we have included some of our state governments responses and findings about the Roads to Resources program, for the years 2004 through 2006.

We welcome your comments—pro or con—on this issue. Talk to us here>>> Alaska Mining Blog

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