Rafting tour permit heads to COW
January 11, 2018
The Haines Borough Assembly scheduled a committee of the whole meeting to discuss a Rainbow Glacier Adventures request to increase the passenger limit of their rafting tours and rafting’s effect on salmon populations.
Tour company owner Joe Ordonez said the cruise ship company Uncruise wants to include rafting trips as part of their stop in Haines. Ordonez said the ship, with a passenger limit of 84 guests, will dock in Haines twice a week and wants to offer their guests morning and afternoon rafting trips through Rainbow Glacier Adventures. Ordonez requested his tour permit be increased from 14 guests per trip to 42 per trip in order to accommodate Uncruise’s request.
Gabe Thomas and Ted Hart objected to the passenger increase. They said the additional pressure at the 14 mile pull out is damaging the river bank and disturbing salmon holding and rearing habitat.
“Bank degradation and disturbances in this sensitive area will not help salmon in these turbulent times,” Thomas said.
He wanted the assembly to move private tour rafting pullouts to 13 Mile where fish habitat wouldn’t be disturbed.
Jake Eckhardt asked the assembly to deny Ordonez’s request because the river and pullouts used by private companies and the public is already crowded. Eckhart works for Chilkat Guides and Alaska Mountain Guides, companies that combined are allowed to give tours to up to 500 people a day. They began operation before the borough’s permitting requirements were established.
Ordonez said he took about 600 people down the river in one season, as much as the other two companies have taken in less than a week.
“If Uncruise had come to them they would be able to just say ‘OK’ and not even come for a permit and this whole discussion wouldn’t even be happening.”
The assembly scheduled a committee of the whole to further discuss the permit, exploring other potential pullout areas and crowding on the Chilkat River.