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In reference to your Nov. 14 article concerning jet boat tours in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, we applauded DNR Commissioner Pourchot's decision to ban eagle baiting and to recognize that commercial use is not a traditional use in the preserve. The preserve was never intended to be a zoo.
The Klukwan Village Council passed a resolution opposing jet boat tours on the lower Chilkat near the village. The resolution supports the state's position that motorized tours be banned on the lower Chilkat River. The state has agreed to conduct a study to evaluate claims of boat wake damage to Native lands and destruction of salmon fry by motorized tours.
In 1982, after more than a decade of conflict, the Legislature created the preserve to "protect and perpetuate the Chilkat Bald Eagles and their essential habitats within the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in recognition of their statewide, nationally, and internationally significant values in perpetuity." Other uses must be "consistent with the primary purpose for which the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is established" such as protection of water quality and salmon. Commercial activity is prohibited in the preserve unless found to be low impact and consistent with preserve purposes. Multiple use is allowed throughout the Haines State Forest, which makes up the majority of state land in the Chilkat Valley.
That was the deal made 20 years ago. The preserve is a unique resource that attracts the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world each fall. With careful management it will continue to do so for generations to come.