(Juneau Empire File)

Letter: Unintended consequences of tourism — a plea for a balanced Auke Bay

I am a resident of Auke Bay who has watched our neighborhood undergo a transformation that is difficult to reconcile with the community we once knew. The surge in tourism, particularly the unending parade of tour buses and vans, has altered the very fabric of our neighborhood, leaving many of us grappling with the unintended consequences.

Auke Bay was once synonymous with natural beauty and fun for the people who live in Juneau. Today, however, the scene is marred by the incessant rumble of engines and the relentless beeping of backup alarms from tour buses and vans that have, quite literally, invaded our neighborhood.

The amount of bus traffic has reached a point where Auke Bay’s serenity is dissapearing. This is further compounded by the overwhelming presence of whale watching boats, each making numerous daily trips. The noise and vibration from some of these vessels is felt at my kitchen table.

It is not only the noise that troubles me, but also the changes in accessibility that impact our local boating community. The sharing of the loading zone between private boats and the whale watching vessels makes it difficult for private boaters or local fisherman to get into the loading zone. The boat traffic in the harbor has reached an incredible level.

I share these observations to encourage a measured approach to tourism that preserves the essence of Auke Bay for its residents. The city’s transformation into what sometimes feels like a bustling amusement park has left many of us yearning for the community we once enjoyed. The impact of over tourism is undeniable, as evidenced by the strain it places on our resources, environment, and quality of life.

The current volume of cruise ships and tourists is testing the limits of our town’s resilience and our collective spirit. Let’s explore avenues that strike a balance, recognizing that our town’s allure lies in its unspoiled beauty and the tranquility that attracted us here in the first place.

Bill Kramer