Photography and Photographic Art by Michele Cornelius

Protecting Alaska

Don’t Pave Paradise

I have sadly neglected this blog, being swept up in the flow of life.  I feel more alive out wandering in nature than sitting at a computer, and give a choice there is no question.  Plus my introverted nature doesn’t help make my online efforts ‘popular’, which doesn’t particularly bother me but there is no encouragement to continue.  I know I should try harder to put my work out in the world.  It isn’t just trying to sell prints, which will happen if it does, but to share the beauty of wild places I visit in hopes to help protect them.

Haines Alaska is an amazing place to live, and I hesitate saying that for fear the crowds will come and ruin this sleepy place.  So few people read this blog that there is no danger I will spill the secret! I like it best in winter, when there is no wait to turn left at stop signs and strangers wave.  No traffic lights, fast food or malls here, and if those show up it will be time to move on.  Haines is surrounded by magical forests, fjords filled with salmon, and vast rugged mountain ranges.  The air and water is pure, and you can easily find blissful silence except for the lapping of waves, wind in the trees or birdsong.  Having traveled around a bit searching for my idea of paradise, I am painfully aware of how hard this is to find.  The lower 48 was so disappointing and supposedly wild places were not longer wild.  It seems obvious that we should protect the precious bits of wilderness left, but even here in my paradise there are threats.  Mines threatening the pure water and eagles of the Chilkat River and they are determined to widen the Haines Highway to accommodate trucks hauling ore. A road is planned that would be blasted across steep slopes along the Lynn Canal supported by Juneau residents who want a new day trip route in summer.  It makes me sick to think that this might happen before my eyes and ruin this place I want to call home.  After moving 27 times, I am ready to put down roots and will fight to keep greedy development from ruining this place.   If you are interested in helping, support Lynn Canal Conservation or Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.

Haines in Winter

Good News for Alaska

With all the environmental doom and gloom, it is encouraging to see a turn in the tide.   In December Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected a proposal to build a gravel road through the wilderness in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.  While supporters claim the road is needed for medical access to a remote village, it sure  looks like a ploy to open another ‘road to resources’ and thankfully Jewell  did the right thing.

This week the EPA released a long-awaited report concluding that a large gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay area would pose significant risks to the region’s abundant salmon runs and the people who live there (duh!).  This seems obvious, but making it official should help stop the devastatingly destructive  Pebble Mine .  The game isn’t over, but there is hope.  With the current Alaskan government’s push to exploit any available resources for profit,  it is encouraging to see progress for environmental protection.  Most Alaskans value wild places, wildlife, and salmon as do the many people who vacation here to experience it.

I have never been to either of these areas yet so have no photos, but hopefully they will still be wild and beautiful when I finally make it.


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