Alaska has the highest total and per capita number of deaths due to avalanches.
Rep. Don Young said Alaska is the only state that doesn't have a statewide government-funded avalanche program.
The program could assist in forecasting potentially damaging slides.
The proposed plan will cost $4 million.
by Angela Unruh
Monday, April 2, 2007
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska has the highest total and per-capita number of deaths due to avalanches, but it's the only state that doesn't have a statewide, government-funded avalanche program, says Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.
Young's legislative assistant, Kevin Kennedy, said the congressman is working to change that.
"It's more than just an educational program," he said. "The funds and the intent of the program is to be able to identify the potential for avalanches on federal land and neighboring communities sooner than we are currently able to do."
Reducing the danger from avalanches before they happen is well worth the proposed $4 million that would go to agencies nationwide each year, Young's office said.
Chugach Powder Guides' Mike Overcast said a program would assist in forecasting potentially damaging slides.
"We've had avalanche accidents by people's homes near Cordova that may have been able to be forecasted before the avalanches occurred," Overcast said. "To see funding go in that direction to avalanche education and forecasting would certainly improve the back country experience for all Alaskans and save lives in the long run."
The program would also insure that the railroad and Department of Transportation have enough artillery for the avalanche program.
It's designed around education and mitigation to plan or predict slides, so unsuspecting adventurers don't become nature's next victim.
If the plan passes, a 15-member advisory panel appointed by the secretary of agriculture would implement the program.
Officials said they don't yet know where the funding would come from.
We all hate it, but its forced upon us. Any local political issues we should know about ??
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