Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

University to hire land caretaker

 

December 13, 2018



University of Alaska’s Land Management Office announced it is looking to hire a “local caretaker” to help oversee its nearly 13,000 acres of forest in the Chilkat Valley.

The news came from Morgan Howard, liaison for the university, in a newsletter he sent to community subscribers on Dec. 5.

Laura Carmack, who replaced Patrick Kelly as regional resource manager for UA Land two weeks ago, said that hiring a caretaker is “top priority” for the university, though a scope of work has not yet been identified.

“With us not being on site, we are trying to see if there’s somebody there locally to help be our eyes and ears on the ground,” Carmack said. “Especially with the trespassing and some of the use that’s been discovered on our lands.”

In October the university alleged timber theft and trespassing issues that were identified while surveying the land the month before. The allegations included “trespass trails,” roads, trap lines and signs, hunting and “in the most egregious case, a cabin and fenced equipment-storage area,” according to UA Vice President Michelle Rizk.

The timber theft was described by the university as three piles of decked spruce logs off Mosquito Lake Road and “several trees” cut off Chilkat Lake Road.

The cabin belonged to the late Norm Blank, who died in 2012. His widow, Patricia Blank, said that they built the cabin around 1970, and paid the state $25 a year in leasing fees. The university did not acquire lands in the Haines Borough until 1984.

Neither the university nor Division of Parks have records of Blank’s cabin. In October the university said they were unaware of the history and would look into it.

According to Carmack, the university is still researching the issue.

Carmack said the caretaker would likely start out as part-time, with the potential to develop into more as needed.

“Having some sort of a land background would definitely help, but we haven’t established any requirements,” she said. Carmack added that having somebody familiar with both the lands and the community would be helpful for the university.

The position will be funded through the Land Office department, and is not contingent on a contract being produced, according to Carmack.

“If the timber project doesn’t go through, I think there’s still some need for a caretaker,” she said. “This is one of the first things that we want to try to handle right away.”

Carmack said more information on the position will come once the university gets back on their feet after the Nov. 30 (7.0 magnitude) earthquake that closed their Anchorage office for six days.

To sign up for the UA Lands newsletter, visit UALandHaines. com.

 
 

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