The Haines that created the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in 1982 is different from today’s Haines. Back then, Haines was a mill town and it was a struggle to protect the area surrounding the bald eagle council grounds. No one could have predicted the rise of a robust tourism industry and the influx of new residents who have chosen to move to Haines because of our clean water, fresh air, and uncontaminated fish. The creation of the preserve was a compromise of competing interests, and those who created the preserve made one significant error – they failed to protect the area upstream of the council grounds. The truth is that if you pollute upstream, you pollute downstream. Tier 3 recognition for the Chilkat River would set high standards and would make it difficult to damage the water quality in the entire Chilkat River system. I believe the majority of Haines residents today would support such a designation, and encourage the community to engage in a robust discussion of its pros and cons. We should direct our leaders to support this designation and protect our clean water and healthy fish – the lifeblood of Haines today.

Joe Ordonez