Hecla Greens Creek wants to close mine to hunters

Hecla Greens Creek Mine is a major employer in the region.
Hecla Greens Creek Mine is a major employer in the Juneau region. (Photo courtesy Hecla Mining Company)

The Hecla Greens Creek Mine is asking the Board of Game to ban hunting near its mine facility southwest of Juneau. The mining company says hunters are endangering its workers.

The metals mine is on leased federal land on Admiralty Island.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game area biologist Stephen Bethune said a single-track dirt Forest Service road used primarily by mine trucks is also trafficked by hunters.

“Juneau-based hunters are using skiffs to transport bicycles and bike trailers over to the mine facility and using the bikes to access their mine infrastructure road,” Bethune said by phone from his office in Sitka.

Greens Creek Mine spokesman Mike Satre says the company has cataloged several near misses between bikes and mine trucks. Add incidents of miners reporting hunters firing on prey near the mine operation and he says it creates a dangerous situation.

What’s called a “max haul” truck drives the Greens Creek road. (Photo by Mike Satre/Hecla Greens Creek Mine)

“They are putting our employees at risk by shooting in blind areas, by leaving carcasses in places that attract bears in our work areas,” Satre said by phone, “and they’re in places that heavy equipment are working on a regular basis and they’re not a hazard that we’re used to having around.”

Territorial Sportsmen has not taken a position on the proposal.

“And I don’t anticipate it doing so,” Vice President Doug Larsen wrote in an email.

Bethune said his agency hasn’t heard from opponents of the proposed closure.

“The department’s neutral on this proposal,” Bethune said. “We’ll present the information and let the Board of Game decide how to proceed on this.”

The proposed closure wouldn’t affect a second Forest Service road that connects a dock at Young Bay and the mine’s main loading dock at Hawk Inlet.

Satre said that road has less mine truck traffic and fewer safety concerns.

“We are not asking to close that,” he said. “That is a road that is very heavily traveled by recreational users.”

The Board of Game will deliberate on this and 52 other proposals when it meets next month in Petersburg. The deadline for written comments is Friday, Dec. 28.

Testimony will be taken at the five-day meeting that begins Jan. 11.

Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska

Jacob Resneck is CoastAlaska's regional news director based in Juneau. CoastAlaska is our partner in Southeast Alaska. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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