Thursday, August 15, 2013

Eagle Roosting Trees & Salmon Habitat in Jeopardy: Comments on Haines Highway Project EA

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If any of you would like to help, please contact the person below. lynncanalconservation.org

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Haines Highway/ Eagle Roosting Trees & Salmon Habitat in Jeopardy


Written comments due Thursday, August 15th

Please comment on Alaska Department of Transportation's (DOT) proposal to widen and straighten Haines Highway from miles 3.5 to 25.3. Comments must be submitted by August 15th.  The project is adjacent to or inside the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, with many impacts to essential salmon and bald eagle habitat.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) mentions the following impacts:
·      Filling 8.5 acres (14,230 lineal feet /2.7 miles) along Chilkat River banks.
·      Impacting 22 anadromous (salmon) tributaries that flow into the Chilkat River.
·      Re-aligning 8 of those tributaries.
·      Filling 12.5 acres of high-value wetlands that provide fish passage and rearing habitat, cycle nutrients, and help control flooding.

You may wish to make the following comments:
·      Ask DOT to provide  a range of alternatives with a smaller footprint in essential eagle and salmon habitat.  There are currently only two alternatives: do nothing, or build as proposed.
·      Ask DOT to supplement the EA or do a more thorough Environmental Impact Study (EIS) with information on eagle roosting trees and effectiveness of salmon habitat mitigation.
·      Support use of engineered logjams - successfully used in Klukwan – rather than riprap, which makes poor salmon habitat.
·      Keep roadbed in current location between miles 19 and 22 and don't cut down any eagle roosting trees in this critical habitat area.
·      There is no "need" to increase the road footprint into salmon and eagle habitat. The EA states the Haines Highway is a low volume road with a low accident rate.
·      A faster, less scenic road would be at odds with Haines Highway National Scenic Byway designation and compromise the values for which the Preserve was established.


The EA is deficient in that it does not consider the following:
·      Up to 98% of the eagles congregate on Council Grounds between October and January.  Cottonwood trees between miles 19 and 22 are critical eagle roosting trees.  There is no analysis of location or number of trees that would be cut along the road corridor.
·      There is no analysis of impacts of past riprap fill of riverbanks.
·      There is no analysis about what level of disturbance to eagles and eagle and salmon habitat is acceptable in the Preserve. 

Submit written comments by Thursday, August 15th  Email:haineshighway@alaska.gov
or
Mail to: Jim Scholl- Environmental Coordinator DOT&PF
P.O. Box 112506 Juneau, AK 99811-2506
or
Call: Jim Scholl and provide oral comments (907) 465-4498

Macky Cassidy
Conservation Coordinator
Lynn Canal Conservation
PO Box 964
Haines, AK 99827
766-2295
lynncanalconservation.org

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