Chilkat River • Jilkaat Heeni

The Chilkat Watershed is located near the communities of Klukwan and Haines, Alaska, and sustains our lives, cultures, and economy year-round, as it has for thousands of years.

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Photo by: Connor Gallagher

Storage Container For Salmon

The Chilkat River, Jilkaat Heeni in Tlingit, or “Storage Container for Salmon,” provides the world’s largest seasonal bald eagle aggregation, Southeast Alaska’s top wild coho salmon run, and the private wells in the Chilkat Watershed. The communities of Klukwan and Haines depend on the Chilkat River’s abundant wild salmon for subsistence, economics, and our way of life.

In 2016, the Chilkat | Jilkaat Heeni was nominated as a Tier 3 waterbody (the highest level of protection for waterways in the U.S.) by the Chilkat Indian Village of Klukwan because of its enormous cultural, economic, and ecological importance. As stressors in the ocean ecosystem increase, such as plastic pollution and acidification, river habitats like the Chilkat | Jilkaat Heeni become even more critical to the survival of salmon and communities.

Protect What You Love.

Photo by: Joe Ordoñez

Reasons for Concern

The construction and operation of the proposed Constantine-Palmer Mine, 18 miles upstream from the Chilkat River and the town of Klukwan, and 35 miles from the town of Haines, could jeopardize the health and well-being of salmon and all who depend on them. The silver, zinc, copper, and gold ore currently being explored by Constantine Metal Resources is located in an area of high rainfall, seismic activity, and in a massive sulfide deposit — which will likely lead to the leaching of acid mine drainage and heavy metals into the watershed.

These are just some of the reasons why this proposed mine is a bad idea.

Photo by: Michele Cornelius

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Our concerns extend beyond them to include:

Acid leaching potential

This area contains a volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposit. All sulfide mines produce acid mine waste, but wet climates like that of the Chilkat Valley intensify the risk of acid mine drainage–toxic, acidic wastewater leaching into our watershed. 

Impacts that last forever

Acid mine waste requires treatment for perpetuity. Constantine tells us the life of the proposed mine would be 10-15 years, but the impacts could last forever, and taxpayers may be on the hook for treating the acid mine waste long after the mining company is gone.

An area prone to earthquakes

The seismic nature of the Valley could threaten the integrity of waste storage structures. In October 2018, 11 earthquakes occurred over the course of 48 hours, all around the perimeter of the Palmer Project.

Skipping approval

Constantine has already started digging trenches for discharging potentially acid-generating wastewater near Hangover Creek, despite their waste management permit being remanded by DEC for additional review.

Preventing public processes

Constantine has shifted the location of the exploration entry portal from federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Alaska Mental Health Trust (MHT) land, skirting the NEPA process, including Environmental Analysis/Impact Studies that include a “no action” alternative, transparency, and a public process.

No consideration for climate change

Constantine’s Plan of Operations addresses five years of industrial activity, but many of the impacts will last for perpetuity. Constantine is using current climate and weather data to plan for these impacts, ignoring the rapidly changing climate. Climate models predict a warmer, wetter, stormier Chilkat Valley within decades.

Get the quick facts from SEACC’s factsheets:

For further information don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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