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The good people that live around Willow could be excused for thinking Mother Nature was out to get them on Monday.

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Letty Eileen Cole, 93, died on Oct. 15, 2014, in Ketchikan.
8/14/2013
The Feds' overreach

Washington, D.C., overreaching in Alaska is becoming epidemic.

Big and small examples abound.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, addressing the Citizens Advisory Commission on Federal Areas in Anchorage this week, pointed out one in which Auntie's Day Care Service received a citation for using a picnic table without a permit. Fined $350, plus a $25 processing fee, the owner was given a court date.

"I had breakfast with the chief of the Forest Service on Friday," Murkowski told the commission. "I gave him a copy of the citation with his coffee. . .

"He said, 'this is horrible.'

"I said 'Sir, this is the problem that we have got. You've got folks that have a regulation back in Washington, D.C., that says if you have a commercial operation, you must have a permit. For gosh sakes, can we use some common sense around here?'"

Murkowski assured the commission the chief of the Forest Service would be taking care of the Wrangell case, but noted that it shouldn't take a U.S. senator meeting with the Forest Service chief to inject rational thinking into the situation.

While she used an example of a little intrusion, she explained that this occurs in big situations, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge management, as well.

Sen. Mark Begich and Congressman Don Young also testified before the commission, calling for the federal reins on Alaska to be loosened. Begich posed ANWR as an example, too.

Murkowski described the problem as beginning at the top with policies and regulations created in the capital that strangle the life out of Alaska and the Alaskan way.

On the ground in Alaska, federal employees — in particular the many who are longtime Alaskans — understand what D.C. feds cannot. They live here. They have relationships with communities and other Alaskans. They are Alaskans.

The day care's experience illustrates that no one holds the wisdom in managing land like the locals. Just like Alaskans aren't as well equipped as New Yorkers to tell the East Coast what's best for public land there, the East Coast is much less informed in regard to Alaska and other Western states.

This doesn't mean New York, D.C., and the East Coast can't become better educated about land thousands of miles off, but they never will be as informed or experienced as those living in Alaska.

The picnic table permit is simply one little example of that. It can be resolved quickly. But it's the big Alaska issues concerning federal land that need to be addressed soon, too, if common sense is to be demonstrated by the feds in Alaska.