State officials got an earful from property owners in Baranof Warm Springs who are against a proposed hatchery near the town.
Baranof Warm Springs is technically part of the City of Sitka. It’s a collection of 50 or so lots on eastern Baranof Island. Juneau resident Dale Young, who also owns property in Baranof Warm Springs, wants to raise 3 million salmon there. His original plans had part of the hatchery built in town. But after residents objected, Young moved the project to the back of a lagoon across the bay.
“My opinion is that if this facility gets built, it’s the beginning of a valuable research and enhancement tool that will be able to be used far into the future in ways we probably can’t even anticipate right now,” Young said.
At a hearing in Sitka on Saturday, residents maintained their belief that the hatchery would spoil the wilderness feel of the community. They also say they’re concerned about the amount of water the hatchery will draw from the Baranof River.
Mike Trotter is president of the Baranof Warm Springs Property Owners Association. He also owns and operates Baranof Warm Springs Lodge. He said the opening the lodge was his dream come true. And he acknowledged that Young probably has the same feelings toward his hatchery.
“The difference is, my dream is here in granite already,” Trotter said. “This man’s dream is still on paper – a paper filled with some illusions and deceit – that if permitted will tear the heart and soul out of everybody in the Baranof community.”
Residents had a few specific concerns about the hatchery. They said the water it plans to take from the nearby river would be too much. Young plans to take 20 cubic feet per second, or CFS. Although the annual mean flow of the river is 418 CFS, residents say the flow varies greatly throughout the year.
They also had concerns about the lights, noise and equipment that might come along with the project. And they said the net pens the hatchery proposes would be located in a popular anchorage.
“I think everyone’s sitting here with a vision of their worst industrial complex … in their mind,” Young said. “I don’t think that’s what this is going to look like at all when it’s done.”
There’s no timeline for a decision on the hatchery. Fish & Game will take comments until July 2.
ADF&G CF Division/PNP Program
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, AK 99811