Preserve council seeks to repeal Parks regulation
February 13, 2020
The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Advisory Council is seeking repeal of a regulation restricting firearms use in the preserve. Council members voted Wednesday to draft a request for immediate lifting of a ban on gun use within a half-mile of a developed facility in the preserve.
The law was questioned after a citation was issued for hunting a bear at 20.5 Mile Haines Highway, not far from the Jilkaat Kwan Cultural Center.
The issue is also of concern to the Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game advisory committee, which met last week and discussed Alaska State Park jurisdiction in the preserve and the possibility of amending state park regulations.
In 1988, regulations for the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve were established by DNR regulating a swath of activities in the preserve, including the use and discharge of weapons within one-half mile of a developed facility.
Some say that firearms use is traditional in the preserve and shouldn’t be curtailed; others question whether required public hearings were held in 1988 when the regulations were adopted.
Members of the Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Committee say they don’t remember public hearings at the time. “When were the public hearings?” Tim McDonough, committee chair, asked at a meeting last week.
According to CVN records, DNR posted a legal notice in a Jan. 15, 1987 edition for meetings in Haines and Klukwan later that month to discuss, among other preserve regulation amendments, “the discharge of firearms.”
In that Jan. 29, 1987 public meeting “snowmobilers to hunting guides and Klukwan residents” commented about their concerns to DNR, a CVN article reports. Concerns included the need for maintaining traditional uses, the high cost of insurance for guides and giving the Chilkat Bald Eagle Advisory Board more responsibility in regulating the preserve. The article and DNR legal notice reference a Feb. 20 deadline for public comments on the draft regulations.
CVN archives report heavy involvement from the public regarding preserve regulations through the years of 1984 through 1988.
In 1984, DNR agreed to “wipe the slate clean” and let the public be more involved in proposing preserve regulations. Multiple public meetings followed.
In a January 1988 article, the first sentence of a report reads “After three years of discussion and debate, the regulations of the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve have been signed into law.”
Discussion of pursuing an amendment to the regulation was tabled in the Fish and Game Advisory Committee meeting until the origin of the weapons discharge regulation could be better understood with regard to public hearings.
“(Changing the regulation) is a bureaucratic thing. It’s not going to happen fast. And if we go down the road of trying to change it, who knows what the outcome will be,” said McDonough. Preston Kroes, Southeast Area Superintendent for Alaska State Parks, estimated that the process would take two-to-three years to resolve, based on past experience. “We have packages that have spent years waiting to be approved or denied.”
Kroes said he preferred the committee work with DNR to find a solution to change the regulation rather than dispute the regulation’s legality. “From my experience if (the public process was incorrectly followed) then the regulation will be changed and agreements will be made (to adhere to the new regulations). So, my suggestion is not to spend a whole lot of time trying to dispute it and think there’s some sort of conspiracy,” Kroes said.