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The Alaska Marine Highway System is a critically important piece of infrastructure that links Southeast Alaska communities, funnels visitors looking to spend their hard-earned dollars into Alaska, and generates hundreds and hundreds of jobs inside the state.

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In a way, Friday’s announcement by three environmental groups was refreshing.

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Kenneth Ray Book, 92, died Jan. 30, 2016, in Beaverton, Oregon.
Lawrence Harris Milton, 79, died Jan. 5, 2016, in Ketchikan.
MaryEllen Haseltine, 91, died Jan. 239, 2016, in Ketchikan.
4/23/2013
We can do better

Another Earth Day is under our belts and in Ketchikan, that means a whole lot of volunteers spent a whole lot of time cleaning up after the rest of us.

The yellow litter bags, stuffed to overflowing, line sections of the highway. One doer of goodness, willing to handle others’ trash strewn carelessly over our island, reports the three most common items she found, repeatedly: Small (airplane-sale-sized) liquor bottles, packaging for cigarettes, and fast-food wrappings.

Gheesh.

We love to thank our neighbors for helping out, but at some point, don’t we all need to realize that we need to pay attention to what we do with stuff we’ve finished with?

We don’t know a single person raised to think it’s OK to toss stuff out the car window or onto the ground as we stroll along in a place that — when clean —bears a strong resemblance to some folks’ idea of paradise. So a lot of this trash must come from “normal” folks, just like us.

Earth Day Monday was a good reminder about taking care of our planet, but also a reminder to clean up our own, individual act here in our slice of the Earth. Next year, let’s use fewer of those yellow bags.