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


Shallow waters force Letnikof float move


The Haines Borough will spend $242,000 to move the Letnikof Cove float another 17 feet offshore to keep it afloat during low tides.

Manager Mark Earnest said glacial rebound is causing the harbor floor to rise a foot every 10 years, meaning shallower waters for boats to dock in, especially during extreme low tide when some near-shore floats are high and dry.

“What happens is portions of that facility are not usable for periods of time, and that problem is only going to get worse over time,” Earnest said.

Public facilities director Carlos Jimenez said commercial fisherman Don Turner first brought the option of relocating the float to his attention. “Quickly after looking into it, it made sense to everybody,” Jimenez said.

One float is partially or entirely out of commission about 25 percent of the season because of low tide and its proximity to the shore, he said.

Relocation will be done as part of upcoming improvements at Letnikof, putting the project total at about $1.18 million.

Commercial fisherman Dean Risley said it makes sense for the borough to relocate the floats while construction crews are already in Haines for scheduled harbor improvements.

“Since they are putting the longer ramp out there it makes sense to move the floats out. It will be a good thing,” Risley said. “It would make more usable space. It would definitely help it.”

Risley said the near-shore portion of the float becomes unusable several times a month.

Boat owner Steve Anderson, who kept a small Pacific skiff at the Letnikof Harbor, said docking at the inside part of the float can get sketchy with a bigger boat, but said he doesn’t see the need to spend so much money to move it out 17 feet.

“That’s a big deal to spend the money on it. It’s always been that way and everybody has gotten along just fine,” Anderson said. “That’s just par for the course for (the borough),” he added. “That’s just ridiculous. It’s not that big of a deal, I don’t think.”

The assembly approved the $242,000 price tag last week. The bulk of the cost comes from the purchase and installation of four additional float mooring piles ($106,000), new concrete anchor blocks ($54,470), and new steel stake pile anchors ($67,625).

Though dredging the harbor to accommodate low tides and bigger boats is technically an alternative to relocating the float, facilities director Jimenez said because the harbor isn’t protected by a breakwater, the dredged area would likely fill back in quickly and would require annual upkeep. That would be expensive, Jimenez said.

“I think (the float relocation) is more of a long-term fix, a permanent solution,” he said.

The project will be paid for with money from deferred maintenance funds received when the state transferred ownership of the harbor to the borough. There is about $800,000 in that fund right now, Earnest said.

“It’s a significant amount of that fund, but after input from the Port and Harbor Advisory Committee and users of that facility, we were convinced that this was a very important project,” Earnest said.

Work on the Letnikof renovations will be performed by Seattle-based Pacific Pile and Marine and begin after Oct. 1.