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News that conservationist groups have filed legal action to further delay the Big Thorne timber sale is not surprising.

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Alaska has one of, if not the, best judicial selection processes.

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Ira Marlin Gross, 55, died Feb. 12, 2015, in Anchorage.
James Michael Beard, 59, died March 13, 2015, in Ketchikan.
7/22/2013
Roads, then jobs

Roads are the gateway to development, particularly in mining.

Congressman Don Young has introduced the Niblack and Bokan Mountain Mining Area Roads Authorization Act, which was the subject of a congressional subcommittee hearing recently.

The legislation, HB 587, would require the secretary of agriculture to establish roads corridors to connect the Prince of Wales Island road system and the two mining sites.

Young told the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands that the mines would create hundreds of jobs in Southeast Alaska, which has experienced a steady decline in timber-industry jobs.

Extending existing roads to the mine sites would provide safe and reliable access for workers, Young said. The extended roads also would encourage extension of Prince of Wales Island's hydroelectric transmission lines to the mines. Hydro power would reduce the need for fossil fuels and their expenses.

It is in the national interest to develop the rare earth elements at the Bokan mine. These elements are employed in all sorts of new technology, and currently China is the source for more than 90 percent of the elements.

The Niblack is a copper, gold, silver and zinc deposit. Extraction of those metals will be beneficial to not only the region's economy, but that of the nation as well.

Mining has its risks, but one of those doesn't have to be access to the mine site. Roads will be the safest and most reliable way for miners to get to work.