In Environmental Conflict in Alaska, Ken Ross presents a detailed yet readable account of the salient environmental controversies of Alaska's statehood period. As "the last frontier," Alaska lured unusually fervent devotees of the exploitation ethic who sought to make quick profits or recreate the pioneer experience in a land of minimal regulations. The state also attracted passionate environmentalists—enthralled by natural beauty—who found increasing support from a public anxious about pollution and resource depletion.
At statehood, Alaska awaited apportionment among state, federal, and Native claimants. A unique mix of conditions, Ross maintains, precipitated high-stakes, often dramatic battles over whales, wolves, and other wildlife as well as the lands and waters where they roamed. The conflicts helped shape the national environmental agenda and generated a vibrant environmental community in Alaska. They doomed some destructive projects, mitigated others, and gave birth to more open, interdisciplinary, and international models of natural resource management.
Ross maintains that over the years, the conflicts strengthened principles of government and corporate accountability, public participation in management decision, and sustainable use of natural resources. At the millennium, this leaves Alaska a chance to retain much of the prisine quality regarded by so many as its primary value. Sure to be the standard account for years to come, Environmental Conflict in Alaska documents one state's fateful trials surrounding its own irreplaceable portion of our nation's great natural heritage.