By at least the informal measure of a Fish and Game employee surveying creels, the number of visitors here for Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend was a big drop from previous years.
Apparently, our northern neighbors learned that coho catches had dropped off since the previous week, and also tuned in to a dismal weather forecast. In addition, some Canadians are now making a 15-hour commute to Valdez for their salmon fix.
Visitors who were here left a pullout at 6 Mile Haines Highway strewn with trash and human waste, a disappointment for residents who previously invited visitors to stay on the private lot there. Owners of the lot have since closed it to such use.
All these developments point to the need for some kind of rudimentary amenities along the Chilkat River during the peak of coho season. They also make a case for a revival of last year’s “Coho Days” celebration.
This event needn’t be a huge undertaking. A fun run in the morning, some art exhibits in the afternoon, maybe a natural history presentation at the American Bald Eagle Foundation and some live music at night – combined with the chance to catch a bright salmon – would likely be incentive enough to bring crowds like those that came last year, regardless of the weather report.
A few port-a-potties and trash cans – or vouchers for dumping a bag of trash – would address the waste problem.
The Mayor and tourism department have made known their interest in adding weekend events to the roster of Haines attractions. Our town lies between two capital cities with populations of young people who are well-paid and like to get out of town. Let’s bring back “Coho Days.”
-- Tom Morphet