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Limited Opportunities in Alaska

In the article ``Alaskan Town Mulls a Future Minus a Mill,'' Jan. 9, Sitka's premier local environmental activist voices an elitist ``let them eat cake'' ignorance of the real world.

Alaskan resources, utilized in a reasonable sustainable manner -

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and by firms of sufficient size - provide the only means by which people of modest educational attainment or of modest formal technical expertise can support a family in southeastern Alaska communities. Other well-paying Sitka jobs are either of limited number (fishing, construction, education, and professional health care) or limited pay (tourism, commercial enterprises, and services). Career transition programs, cultural programs, and scientific education - nominal palliatives - are useful primarily for preparing people to work somewhere else.

Only a small portion of the Tongass National Forest, less than 10 percent of the whole, is available for economic development. Radical environmentalists would begrudge even that small amount. That is simply unforgivable in human terms. Paul J. Wescott, Sitka, Alaska

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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