Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Mud Bay gold dig stirs neighbors


A Skagway truck driver this week said his plan to dig two, 500-foot-long trenches for mineral exploration on state land near Mount Riley amounts to a rock-hunting outing that would last about two weeks and have the impact of a residential driveway.

Eric Hosford has sought a state permit for the work that would dig, then backfill exploratory trenches up to 12 feet wide and 10 feet deep, one parallel to Mud Bay Road and the other perpendicular.

In an interview this week, Hosford said he has nine claims in the Mount Riley area. He hopes to do the work this fall.

“I’m not opening a mine. We’re taking a sample out of that ditch,” Hosford said. He describes himself as a “prospector” and “elaborate rockhound” who worked last year by hand at the site and wants to get some samples for assay.

“I collect rocks and put them around in my yard. It’s just a hobby,” he said. He said he would gladly discuss the project with residents.

The roadside ditch has been “turned over” by prospectors a few times in the mid-20th century, he said.

The trenches may not be dug as large as the requested size and if he gets permission for the one parallel to the road, he won’t dig the second one, which he requested as a backup, he said.

Residents, including those who live across the street at the Haines Borough’s Carr’s Cove subdivision, have raised questions about the work.

“How was the mining claim ever approved near a residential area,” resident Diane LaCourse wrote to David Wilfong of the state Department of Natural Resources this week.

The matter was raised at Tuesday’s Haines Borough Assembly meeting by member Debra Schnabel. “We probably have recreational interests in the area that need to be considered. We need to be educated and weigh in.”

Engineers with the U.S. Bureau of Mines identified a 180-foot-long vein of copper and gold at the roadside site in 1986. They described it as a “good-looking prospect,” in a CVN story but said some of it went under Mud Bay Road.