A Canadian company is exploring copper and zinc deposits at the Palmer Project site north of Haines. It’s not even a proposed project yet – but it’s is already dividing the community of Haines. One group having a hard time forming consensus on the issue is the commercial fishing fleet in the Northern Lynn Canal.
Vancouver-based Constantine Metal Resources has found promising deposits at the Palmer site in the last few years and joined forces with a Japanese investing company.
The site is about 40 miles north of Haines, near the Canadian border and the Klehini River, which drains into the Chilkat River. The recent developments have people in Haines staking out positions on whether a future mining operation would benefit or hurt the community.
(To read complete source article, click "Alaska Public Radio")
Every November thousands of Bald Eagles descend on the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, 48,000 acres of protected land surrounded by white-capped mountains in Haines, Alaska. The eagles flock to feast on a late run of spawning salmon in a low-lying part of the Chilkat River that remains ice-free through the winter. Along with the eagles come roughly 250 birdwatchers, many for the annual Alaska Bald Eagle Festival, which runs from November 10th - 16th this year, during which visitors take daily trips to the Preserve to witness the majestic birds up close.
But a cloud hangs over this year's festivities--a new proposal to expand the Haines Highway, a road that cuts through the Preserve, threatens both the habitat and the food sources the Bald Eagles need to thrive. A scenic byway that stretches from Haines, Alaska to Canada's Yukon Territories, the Haines Highway spends around 22 twisty miles cutting through the Preserve. With its 55 mph speed limit, the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have deemed some of it too dangerous in its current curvy state. They hope to expand and straighten a 21.8-mile section--15.8 of which is in the preserve--to improve both safety and visibility for drivers. A straighter road would also increase safety for trucks DOT speculates will come with the increased mining operations across Alaska and Canada, and a proposed natural gas pipeline.
Every year, thousands of bald eagles flock to a stretch of the Chilkat River about 20 miles north of Haines. That part of the river stays ice-free longer than the rest. The eagles fly there for a late chum salmon run. It’s thought to be the largest gathering of eagles in the world.
Dozens of people travel to witness the eagle gathering each year, filling up almost every hotel room in Haines. The town holds a week-long Bald Eagle Festival to capitalize on the influx of visitors. This year, it started on November 10th and ends on the 16th.
A peaceful drive down the Haines Highway offers a picturesque view of snow-capped mountains -- but it's what you don't see here during the spring thaw that makes this place more than just a scenic byway.
Hundreds of bald eagles flock to this strip of land about 20 miles north of downtown Haines every fall.
"This is a unique wildlife spectacle, it's a migration, and it's comparable to the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti in Africa,” said Eric Holle, the president of Lynn Canal Conservation.
Before dawn, Steve Lewis crosses the snowy flats around Southeast Alaska's Chilkat River. Beyond its braided channel rise the Takhinsha Mountains, obscured by fog in the murky autumn light. A handful of biologists follow Lewis -- a tall, trim 42-year-old with a close-cropped beard -- as he sloshes through riffles to a gravel bar. He builds a perch snare by tying an alder branch to an upright log and rigs it with a spring-loaded loop. "Ready for action," he whispers, hoping to conceal our presence from the Chilkat's chattering denizens.
Dozens of bald eagles, their chirps surprisingly meek, hunker in the river's bare cottonwoods. Between 3,500 and 4,000 migrate each fall to this six-mile stretch of the Chilkat Valley, called the Council Grounds, in the largest gathering of bald eagles on Earth. To protect them, Alaska designated a 48,000-acre area as the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in 1982.
(To read the complete source article, click "High Country News")