HSC : March 2023 Sealaska Road Management Plan Meeting – Community Feedback Needed

In attendance:

Community : Chris Austin, Cliff Walker, Brenda Clark, Lucas Clark, Bob Clark, Aaron St. Clair, George Dalton, Julian Narvaez, Rob Bishop, Jack Lee, Ian Johnson, Amelia Wilson, Bill Miller, Duane Jack, James Jack, Mike Downs, John Hillman, Marilyn Hillman, Elleana Elliot, Fagan Skafelstad, Dennis Gray Jr, Amy Courtney, Stan Savland, Heather Powell, Joe Camoli, Jackie Dick, Jeromy Grant, Elizabeth Figus

Sealaska Staff : Gary Mills, Dixie Hutchinson, Rick Perkins, Michelle Metz, Jason Gubatayao

On March 16th, representatives from Sealaska met with the Huna Stewardship Council and the community to discuss their road management plan. This discussion is the start of a process to get feedback into the plan and tweak it to meet the needs of Hoonah. The meeting was divided into two parts – a presentation and review of the road system management plan for Eastport a community feedback part.

If you would like to give feedback on the Sealaska Roads plan you can get ahold of Jason at 907-225-944 or Michele at 907.586.1512

Also can email: naturalresources@sealaska.com


Roads Background

Sealaska highlighted three primary reasons roads are important for Hoonah – access to traditional harvesting, recreation, and access for tourism

There are currently 65 miles of drivable roads in Eastport (Hoonah road system). The roads are maintained on a 10 year rotation along with the rest of Sealaska roads throughout the region. The current closure plan would close 25 miles of road, but this plan is still in draft and Sealaska asks that Shareholders and community members give them feedback on important area to maintain.

Maintaining roads is very expensive. The average cost to design a culvert a salmon stream crossing is $40,000 dollars. And can be over $100,000 to install. They have 200 salmon stream crossings in their road system across the region. A single, 60ft bridge can cost over $160,000 to purchase and another $200,000 to install.

The current road management plan is based on the economics of road maintenance. Higher slope roads are more expensive to maintain and have higher risks to erosion and landslides. However, Sealaska knows there are roads that are very important to the community to keep open – so the question is, where are those?

Timelines – Sealaska will begin road maintenance this summer. There will not be any road closures happening until Sealaska finalizes their road plan and that depends on community feedback.

Community Questions:

  1. How much road is being closed this year?
    1. Under the current plan 25 miles of road would be closed, but that won’t start until we get feedback from community
  2. Will there be another meeting to attend?
    1. Yes, follow up meeting TBD.
  3. Who patrols the roads?
    1. Sealaska and Huna Totem share a lands watch position, James Jack. Policy on Sealaska land is anyone who is legally using the lands can access them
  4. Landslides – can we harvest from them?
    1. Policy is you can harvest any dead and down tree on Sealaska lands. Nothing standing can be cut.
  5. I am concerned about being confined to the mainline. It will further congest tourism and make it hard to access the roads. I realize the cost of installation, but let local folks maintain the roads they want for walking. If it’s going to brush in leave the culverts and we’ll brush it. Where are local people going to go during tourism if you only have the mainlines?
  6. What happened to the Ecotrust app and data that was being developed?
    1. That now is on Android and Apple store. Look up Gather Southeast. Has road maps you can use. It functions like Google maps in some ways but with local maps. Can send in anything you see wrong on the road system
  7. Concern : I don’t have enough information yet to make a decision
  8. Concern : The map is confusing. I need more time to interpret it and give feedback
  9. Note : the game creek bridge is important for tourism. That pulloff needs to be developed to remove congestion
  10. Safety Concern : Need to limit the speed on the road system. People go too fast and on dusty days you can’t see far enough ahead to drive that fast. Also concerned about the speed the four wheelers from the rental business goes
  11. Concern : Section of road above lower game creek bridge is breaking part. There is no ditch, water is sluffing down, it has very high traffic and very low maintenance. There is a landslide. Could this be alleviated by putting in a designated bear viewing area there? There are sink wholes in the road and the bridge planks are coming up
  12. Concern : Not enough bathrooms out the road for tourists
  13. Community Priority for roads – maintain access to the Burnt Point areas as a harvest area. The road is definitely getting worse going that way and needs to be maintained
  14. Question : can we extend the turnouts?
    1. Yes, we could have local road crews look at spots that might be good
  15. Question : can we post speed signs out the road? It is currently not clear to tourists or locals what the speed limit is
  16. Question : Can there be local-specific regulations for land use, for instance for hunting?
  17. Safety concern : Concern that tourists do not understand the risk of bears when they are out the road by the self
  18. Can we get enforcement?
    1. Have a lands watchman James Jack
  19. Question : How can we give you feedback on the type of use desired? For instance, if a road is closed can it be mainted for a certain type of traffic? (ATV, walking)
  20. Spirit camp road – what is the status of that gate? How can a gate be put in there? Who owns the gate?
    1. That road goes to an adjacent landowners land that is landlocked. We have a written agreement with them to use that road and have it gated to limit access to the private landowner’s land.
  21. Why not move the gate to the edge of the adjacent landowners land?
    1. This is possible, need to look into it further
  22. How can we keep alpine roads open?
    1. Right now Sealaska filtered for lower roads because they are lower risk. Community would need to tell us which alpine roads they might want open
  23. Is there a current assessment of all 65 miles or Sealaska road? How current is the inventory?
    1. Last full assessment was 2016

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