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  • Writer's pictureLee Hart

June Featured Big Wins for Alaska Outdoors; Senators, Cities Vote to Fund Projects that Create Jobs

Crews work on bridge on Treadwell Ditch trail in Juneau

If there is a ray of sunshine amid all the storm clouds during this time of economic upheaval and social unrest, it is the growing awareness among Alaska’s elected leaders of the many benefits of the outdoor recreation sector. This spring, as the economy was brought to its knees by the COVID-19 pandemic, AOA stakeholders began talking about needs and priorities, the conclusion of which was a jobs stimulus package that also earned broad support from business and elected leaders beyond the outdoor recreation sector.

Last month saw some of AOAs advocacy efforts around that proposal begin to bear fruit.

On June 17, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan were among the 73 US senators who voted yes to passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. This letter to the editor in the Anchorage Daily News explains the significance. Passage of GAOA is one of the key recommendations in AOA’s jobs package. In addition to Anchorage area legislators noted in the letter, other state legislators who backed AOA’s jobs stimulus package include Reps. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (Sitka) and Dan Ortiz (Ketchikan), as well as, from Juneau, Sen. Jesse Kiehl and Reps. Sara Hannan and Andi Story.

On the same day GAOA passed the Senate, the City and Borough of Juneau, put their support of AOA’s job package into practice close to home and became the first city in the nation to use CARES Act funding to create its own local COVID-19 Conservation Corps to get people back to work this summer. Juneau Empire writer Peter Segall wrote about the program in this story. Adelyn Baxter shared the story on Juneau KTOO News/Alaska Public Media.

Less than a week later, the Anchorage Assembly approved $3 million of CARES Act funding for a Public Lands Jobs Program also primed to get folks to work this summer. The Muni will retain Public Employees Local 71 to hire and train unemployed and furloughed workers for wildfire mitigation efforts and shovel-ready trail projects. Anchorage Daily News writer Aubrey Weiber wrote about the program that was part of the city’s pandemic economic relief effort.

AOA will continue efforts to ensure GAOA passes the House and continue to advocate for other measures outlined in the jobs stimulus package.

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