Road building and mining two different things

Posted: Friday, February 04, 2011

In response to public concern about the impact to salmon of a possible Chuitna coal mine, Tyonek Native Corporation engineer John McClellan claimed that it was quite common to mine through a salmon stream and that salmon habitat restoration was commonly successful. As an example, he cited a restoration project at Tern Lake, near the 'Y' on the Sterling Highway. He said when the Highway Department rebuilt the road, they mined through a salmon stream and restored it on the south side of the road.

This statement is inaccurate and ill informed at best.

The Alaska Department of Transportation does not mine through salmon streams. The environmental engineers at DOT use a series of strict guidelines and acquire permits to ensure the protection of salmon-spawning habitat.

At Tern Lake, the U.S. Forest Service (not the "highway department") restored a salmon stream that was impacted (not destroyed) by the construction of the Sterling Highway in the 1940s. No "mining of salmon streams" was involved in this stream restoration project.

To insinuate that the road work or the streambed restoration project at Tern Lake was anything like the Chuitna Mine that proposes the wholesale removal of 11 miles of salmon stream for years is like comparing fly fishing to dredging.

Obviously, restoration and a 325-foot deep strip mine are totally different, and we should never forget that difference.

Kevin Walker

Homer



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