Opinion: Now’s the time for a Civilian Conservation Corp-inspired effort

Opinion: Now’s the time for a Civilian Conservation Corp-inspired effort

Federal investment now would allow tour companies and employees to join a CCC-inspired effort.

  • Wednesday, May 13, 2020 11:45am
  • Opinion

It’s no secret this is going to be tough summer for tourism businesses. Like many businesses, Gastineau Guiding makes our income for a full year of operations in just a few short months. We recognize that the current conditions mean that it won’t be right for many people to visit Alaska this summer or patronize our business. In the meantime, we see an opportunity to put seasonal employees to work and improve our community at the same time.

During the Great Depression, faced with vast unemployment, the federal government created the Civilian Conservation Corp. Young Americans worked on some of our most famous and enduring public recreation infrastructure, including transportation and infrastructure improvements in both the Chugach and Tongass National Forests. As a tourism business, we still rely on many of these trails and public facilities today to share the grandeur of Alaska with our visitors. We also don’t want to wait until everyone is unemployed: Federal investment now would allow tour companies and employees to join a CCC-inspired effort, saving businesses as well as jobs. The danger is that we lose not only job, but the businesses too.

Our trails, campgrounds, facilities have a large maintenance back log. Recreation infrastructure needs some love. The tourism sector has always supported these investments, but the truth has always been that, with shrinking funds and staffing, the back log has continued to grow. With Congress’ plans to appropriate more relief funding, investing in a CCC revival would allow us to capitalize on having the time and the staff to get the job done. Let’s put it to good use.

Who better to do this work than Alaskan guides? We know and love these trails already. We know what it is like to work in Alaska’s tough weather and terrain. The CCC showed just how much one skilled trail builder could accomplish with willing hands to shovel gravel. As we slowly return to normal, trail work can be accomplished outdoors, with appropriate distancing and with workers from within the community.

Like all Alaskans, we are looking forward to welcoming visitors to Alaska when it is safe for our communities and our guests. In the short term we can keep employees on the payroll and our doors open for next season’s business. Long term, we’ll have done good work on the trails that will make Alaska a great place to live and a great place to visit.

• Sierra Gadaire is general manager for Gastineau Guiding Company. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

More in Opinion

Web
Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: Legislature will best serve Alaskans by rejecting Dunleavy’s executive orders

Dunleavy’s executive orders have nothing to do with “streamlining” and everything to… Continue reading

Students enter a bus stopped on Douglas Highway during the first day of the 2023-2024 school year. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Unintended consequences of the school district reorganization plan

During school board public comment sessions on proposed school reorganization options, many… Continue reading

Former President Donald Trump speaks to a capacity crowd at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on July 9, 2022. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: A primary election of ill-informed voters

On Tuesday, Republicans across the state will help anoint Donald Trump as… Continue reading

HEX Cook Inlet, LLC and Subsidiaries presents a check to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Administration in October of 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Administration)
My Turn: The Legislature should rein in AIDEA

This story has been updated to correct the photo caption, which originally… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: What’s wrong with this picture?

At 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, I and several other moms and… Continue reading

Palestinians sell goods next to buildings destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. An estimated 1.5 million Palestinians displaced by the war took refuge in Rafahor, which is likely Israel’s next focus in its war against Hamas. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
My Turn: Palestinian residents are helpless victims in attacks made by leaders

In 1948 the United Nations gave the country of Palestine to European… Continue reading

The Juneau School District administrative office, which would be closed and turned over to Juneau’s municipal government under a pending consolidation plan. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)
Opinion: Juneau School District edges closer to balanced budget, but what’s next?

After a marathon public hearing last week, the Juneau School District (JSD)… Continue reading

Students at Juneau Community Charter School play chess in a classroom. (Juneau School District photo)
Opinion: Final Draft – Civic education and the problem with standardized testing

There’s a lot of intense disagreements with the education bill that the… Continue reading

Most Read