University to permit hunting on its land
February 7, 2019
The University of Alaska’s land management office is researching its land-use permitting process to allow hunting west of the Chilkat River, University regional manager Laura Carmack said on Monday.
In October, the university alleged theft and trespassing issues, including hunting while surveying the land in September.
Response from residents who have hunted on unmarked University Land for decades prompted the university to re-consider its ban. In November, university communications specialist, Morgan Howard, said that hunting would be allowed on the west side of the Chilkat River for one season.
On Monday, Carmack and university land management business head Elaine Main said they are working on researching a permitting process before the season opens to avoid potential liabilities.
“I’m just worried that the moment we say, ‘Yeah sure, go ahead and hunt on university land,’ that’s the moment where somebody gets hurt,” Main said.
According to Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Carl Koch, it’s reasonable for private property owners to allow use of their land.
“In our regulation book, we always tell people ‘You have to get permission from the landowner,’ our permits only deal with hunt conditions to manage the (animal) population,” Koch said.
Legal hunts around Haines include ones for bears, moose and goats.
Norm Hughes has been subsistence hunting on university land for 20 years. He said he never knew he needed additional permitting for private property, or that he was even on privately owned land.
“I wasn’t aware there were exclusions other than you can’t discharge a firearm in the townsite,” Hughes said. “As I understood, all land in the Haines Borough you could hunt on, so I’ve always hunted wherever. There’s no sign saying who owns it, no property signs no line markers, no nothin’.”
The university is not yet sure how it will regulate hunting, but Main said she wants to make it as easy as possible.
“We’re hoping to see if maybe we could piggyback (on the state permit),” Main said. “If they already have a permit to (hunt), then we’re just allowing them to do that hunting on the land.”
The important thing is that the university realized they were affecting Haines hunters and “wanted to address it in a positive way,” Howard said.
University land management representatives visited Haines on Monday to make good on a November promise to make quarterly trips to town.
Last March, the university announced a prospective international buyer’s interest in harvesting about 6,000 of its 13,000 acres of land in the Haines Borough. According to the university’s previous regional manager, the sale, if finalized, would generate about $1 million a year for the university.
This week, university officials held meetings with residents at Mountain Market, with tribal council members and employees at the Chilkoot Indian Association office and with Klukwan residents at the Hospitality House.
The university has twice delayed signing a contract to sell its timber and is “no closer to negotiation” with the prospective buyer, Main said this week.
In December, the university announced it would hire a local caretaker to help manage its land and prevent timber theft. Its writing an RFP for the position when it’s accepting applications.
Land staff representatives plan to next visit Haines in May, Main said. To receive notice of upcoming visits, subscribe to their newsletter at ualand.com.