It’s possible for the Haines Highway project to protect salmon, eagles and cultural resources, and enhance safety. The initial design, however, drew serious criticism from the Sealaska Heritage Foundation, National Marine Fisheries Service and others because it did not protect those resources.

According to the Nov. 12 interim manager’s report, our assistant manager was tasked with lobbying for the criticized highway design in Washington, D.C. (“The Borough is supportive of the plan DOT/PF has proposed.”) The report further asserts that “a group of local residents” are “claiming” the proposed improvements will cause environmental damage.

Nowhere is it mentioned that the National Marine Fisheries Service is claiming the same thing: “If constructed as currently proposed, adverse effects to essential fish habitat from the Haines Highway project will be substantial and permanent.”

Surely the borough does not wish to lobby for substantial and permanent damage to Chilkat River salmon habitat?

Borough lobbying for a project that will negatively impact our most important economic resources can – and needs – to be fixed. This is a request that the borough clarify with those lobbied in D.C. that we support a highway project that protects our resources and improves safety, but do not support the plan that was proposed by DOT.

Nancy Berland