Assembly designates beach non-motorized
The one-mile stretch of Chilkat River beach running from River Road to Carr’s Cove is officially closed to motorized use, including ATVs and snow machines.
The Haines Borough Assembly voted 4-2 Tuesday to zone the beach as non-motorized after hearing dozens of comments from the public supporting the designation.
Assembly members George Campbell and Jerry Lapp were opposed.
Nearly 20 residents testified over the course of an hour Tuesday, with only three speakers opposing passage of the ordinance. Pointing to the area’s pristine beauty, wildlife habitat and easy access from town, residents clamored for its preservation as a place for non-motorized uses like dog-walking and jogging.
“It’s not just any old beach,” Mud Bay Road resident Heather Shade said.
Several residents systematically attacked a four-page memo written by George Campbell, who vehemently opposed the ordinance. In the memo, Campbell asserted any “damage” caused by ATVs below mean high tide would be “removed in short order by nature” through the ebb and flow of the tide.
Resident Roger Tuenge disputed Campbell’s claim about damage, saying he had spoken with several wildlife biologists on the issue who disagreed with Campbell’s claim.
Among the few residents to oppose the ordinance was Mud Bay Road resident Chris Brooks, who said creating rules and regulations because of the irresponsible ATV use of a couple individuals is not the way to solve the conflict.
“(This ordinance) isn’t really going to stop the people that are causing the problem,” Brooks said.
Assembly member Dave Berry, who first opposed the ordinance because he feared it was an attempt to revoke the rights of motorized users, said he changed his mind and decided to support it, though he hoped the decision would not set a precedent.
“I hope this is not the beginning of more,” Berry said.
The top of Mount Ripinsky is the only other area in the borough closed to motorized use.