"By promoting runaway development in her hometown, say locals, Palin has 'fouled her own nest' -- and that goes for the lake where she lives." Full story here.
Sept. 19, 2008 WASILLA, Alaska -- Every morning she's at home here, Sarah Palin wakes up to a postcard view from her lakeside home. Out the windows of her two-story wood-framed house stretch the serene, birch-lined waters of Lake Lucille. Ducks go gliding by the red-and-white Piper Cub floatplane docked outside. With the snow-frosted Chugach and Talkeetna mountains looming in the distance, the scene seems to define the Alaska that Palin celebrates: rugged, majestic, unspoiled.
And, yet, the lake Sarah Palin lives on is dead.
"Lake Lucille is basically a dead lake -- it can't support a fish population," said Michelle Church, a Mat-Su Valley borough assembly member and environmentalist. "It's a runway for floatplanes."
Palin recently told the New Yorker magazine that Alaskans "have such a love, a respect for our environment, for our lands, for our wildlife, for our clean water and our clean air. We know what we've got up here and we want to protect that, so we're gonna make sure that our developments up here do not adversely affect that environment at all. I don't want development if there's going to be that threat to harming our environment."
But as mayor of her hometown, say many local critics, Palin showed no such stewardship. . . .
The two lakes are the town jewels, the only eye relief along a harrowing corridor of strip malls, big-box stores and fast-food drive-throughs that is Wasilla. "Lord, help me get through Wasilla," reads one Alaska bumper sticker. . . .
John Stein, Palin's predecessor as Wasilla mayor, tried gamely to get a handle on the commercial free-for-all. He made an effort to restore the health of Lake Lucille, which, he said, "was turning into a bog." . . .
But while Mayor Stein tried to impose some reason on Wasilla's helter-skelter development, and its growing pressures on Mat-Su Valley's environmental treasures, when Sarah Palin took his place, she quickly announced, "Wasilla is open for business." . . .
"Sarah was such a great cheerleader for Wasilla, but she did nothing to protect its beauty. She'd go to these Chamber of Commerce meetings and say, 'Wasilla is the most beautiful place in the world!' And we'd just sit there gagging."
A city official in nearby Palmer, who has lived in the Mat-Su Valley his whole life, sadly admitted: "Sarah sent the growth into overdrive. And now they're choking on traffic and sprawl, all built on their ignorance and greed.
"I try to avoid driving to Wasilla so I won't get depressed," added the official, who asked for his name to be withheld, to avoid Palin's "wrath."
"You get visually mugged when you drive through there. I take the long way, through the back roads, just to avoid it."
Wasilla City Council member Dianne Woodruff hears the same lament about her town all the time. "Everywhere in Alaska, you hear people say, 'We don't want to be another Wasilla.' We're not just the state's meth capital, we're the ugly box-store capital. Was Sarah a good steward of this beautiful valley? No. I think it comes from her lack of experience and awareness of other places, how other cities try to preserve what makes them attractive and livable. . . .
"Sarah hasn't traveled outside of Alaska much," said Kilkenny. "She hasn't seen dead lakes and rivers."
Now Palin can see one right out her window.