With the controversial Wishbone Hill coal mine proceeding Near Sutton, in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of Southcentral Alaska, an organization has offered to lease a large tract of land for a new mining project, according to an article at KTUU.com. The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority believes that a 11,497-acre tract it owns near the Chickaloon Native Village contains bituminous coal. Leasing the land would bring the organization $45,948 annually, funds that, according to Deputy Director of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Marcie Menefee, would give those with mental health needs “access to provisions in the state instead of needing to go outside Alaska.”
But for the Chickaloon Tribe, which spent the summer fighting the Wishbone Hill mine, this new proposal brings a frustrating sense of deja vu. Tribal council member Shawna Larson feels the resurgence of mining in the area is a step in the wrong direction. “There was a lot of environmental damage that occurred due to the original mining and railroad that came in and essentially our tribe has spent the last 100 years trying to recover from that,” said Larson. “And to see projects like this being proposed again when we know that there are health problems that are associated with toxic coal dust and several other problems, our tribe is very concerned, not only for our citizens’ health, but for our future generations and our culture and our connection to the land itself.”
The Trust is accepting comments on the proposed lease through November 7, and leasing proposals through December 16.