The Chilkat River, Jilkaat Heeni in Tlingit, or ‘Storage Container for Salmon’, provides the world’s largest seasonal bald eagle aggregation, Southeast Alaska’s top wild coho salmon run, and the drinking water of residents of Klukwan and private wells in the Chilkat Watershed - communities that depend on the Chilkat River’s abundant wild salmon for subsistence, economics, and our way of life.
In 2016, the Chilkat | Jilkaat Heeni was nominated as a Tier 3 waterbody (the highest level of protection for waterways in the US) by the Chilkat Indian Village of Klukwan because of its enormous cultural, economic, and ecological importance. As stressors in the ocean ecosystem increase, such as plastic pollution and acidification, river habitats like the Chilkat | Jilkaat Heeni become even more critical to the survival of salmon and communities.
The construction and operation of the proposed Palmer Project, 18 miles upstream from the Chilkat River and the town of Klukwan, and 35 miles from the town of Haines, could jeopardize the health and well-being of salmon and all who depend on them. The silver, zinc, copper, and gold ore currently being explored by Constantine Metal Resources is located in an area of high rainfall, seismic activity, and in a massive sulfide deposit – which will likely lead to acid mine drainage. These are just some of the reasons why this proposed mine is a bad idea. Our concerns extend beyond them to include:
- Acid leaching potential: This area contains a volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposit. All sulfide mines produce acid mine waste, but wet climates like that of the Chilkat Valley intensify the risk of acid mine drainage--toxic, acidic wastewater leaching into our watershed.
- Impacts that last forever: Acid mine waste requires treatment for perpetuity. Constantine tells us the life of the proposed mine would be 10-15 years, but the impacts could last forever, and taxpayers may be on the hook for treating the acid mine waste long after the mining company is gone.
- An area prone to earthquakes: The seismic nature of the Valley could threaten the integrity of waste storage structures. In October 2018, 11 earthquakes occurred over the course of 48 hours, all around the perimeter of the Palmer Project.
- Skipping approval: Constantine has already started digging trenches for discharging potentially acid-generating wastewater near Hangover Creek, despite not yet obtaining the required approval from DEC for a land application disposal (LAD) system—discharging wastewater underground.
- Preventing public processes: Constantine has shifted the location of the exploration entry portal from federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Alaska Mental Health Trust (MHT) land, skirting the NEPA process, including Environmental Analysis/Impact Studies that include a “no action” alternative, transparency, and a public process.
- No consideration for climate change: Constantine’s Plan of Operations addresses five years of industrial activity, but many of the impacts will last for perpetuity. Constantine is using current climate and weather data to plan for these impacts, ignoring the rapidly changing climate. Climate models predict a warmer, wetter, stormier Chilkat Valley within decades.
Several groups have raised their voices in concern about the proposed Constantine Mine. Subsistence, commercial, and sport fisheries are very worried, as the salmon runs have been declining in recent years. Resistance is building, but greater mobilization is needed to protect the Chilkat | Jilkaat Heeni River.
Let’s work together to protect the Chilkat River and all who depend on it.
The proposed mine is not inevitable. We will keep you informed on upcoming opportunities to take meaningful action to protect the Chilkat Watershed. In the meantime, here are some resources to get started.
- Express your concerns to Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority:
For further information, please contact SEACC at email@example.com or 907-586-6942
- Contact decision-makers to request their public opposition to this project
- Check out our letter to decision makers template
- Haines Borough:
- Main office phone: 907-766-6400
- Mayor and Council Members: http://www.hainesalaska.gov/boroughassembly/borough-assembly-contact-info
- Citizen concern or suggestion form: http://www.hainesalaska.gov/administration/citizen-concern-or-suggestion-form
- State Representative Sara Hannan:
- Representative.Sara.Hannan@akleg.gov or 907-465-4766
- State Senator Jesse Kiehl:
- Senator.Jesse.Kiehl@akleg.gov or 907-465-4947
- Write a Letter to the Editor (LTE) in your local paper
- Host an event, spread the word, or get ideas for your LTE by downloading the Chilkat River and Palmer Project factsheets
- Learn More:
- From SEACC: seacc.org/chilkat
- From Lynn Canal Conservation: http://www.lynncanalconservation.org/mining
- From Rivers Without Borders: http://riverswithoutborders.org/about-the-region/chilkat
- From Earth Justice: https://earthjustice.org/cases/2017/defending-the-chilkat-river-watershed
- From the Chilkat Indian Village: www.chilkat.org