Legacy of the Gold Rush:
An Administrative History of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
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Chapter 8:
Administering the Dyea Area

When Congress passed the act authorizing Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, the Chilkoot Trail Unit was one of the four newly-created, discontinuous park units. That unit, which is approximately 17 miles long and one mile wide, encompasses most of the Taiya River valley. At the southern end of the unit, south of West Creek and west of the Taiya River, is located the townsite of Dyea. For a short time during the winter of 1897-98, as noted in Chapter 1, Dyea boasted a population of several thousand. After the gold rush, however, it became a ghost town. Then, after World War II, the completion of Dyea Road and the desire for homesites opened the area to Skagway-area residents. The Dyea area, particularly that portion just south of West Creek and west of Dyea Road, has retained its residential character ever since.

East of the Taiya River and north of West Creek, however, the land has remained generally unsettled. As noted in Chapter 2, the lower Taiya River valley supported a timber cutting operation during the 1940s and 1950s. Otherwise, however, the only people to venture into the unit have been trappers, hunters, and Chilkoot Trail hikers.

Because the management problems of Dyea and the Chilkoot Trail corridor have been largely dissimilar, the author has decided to create separate chapters dealing with these two subjects. It is recognized, however, that some topics are equally applicable to both the Dyea area and the Chilkoot Trail corridor. For example, the various state-federal cooperative agreements and memoranda of understanding apply to the entire Chilkoot Trail Unit. In addition, several national register nominations and cultural resource surveys have pertained to both areas. In these and similar cases, the topics have been described initially in this chapter, and all material pertaining to the Dyea area has likewise been included. In Chapter 9, material has been added that specifically pertains to the Chilkoot Trail corridor.

The 1978 Cooperative Agreement

When the park bill became law in June 1976, the Chilkoot Trail Unit (which included Dyea) was controlled by a host of public and private interests. As noted in Chapter 2, most of the Dyea area was owned by private parties, and most of the land in Dyea was still composed of the same parcels that had been homesteaded prior to 1930. (The remainder, as noted above, was owned by Skagway- and Dyea-area residents, who used their land as either a primary residence or as a second home site.) Outside of Dyea, most of the land in the Chilkoot Trail Unit was owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. But as Chapter 3 has shown, the State of Alaska had selected most of the unit's public land in 1961. Having effective management control over the trail corridor, the state's Department of Natural Resources and Department of Health and Welfare constructed the recreational Chilkoot Trail in 1961-1963. During that period, corrections personnel constructed two cabins, near Canyon City and Sheep Camp.

Before 1976, the National Park Service was already playing a small but important role in managing the Chilkoot Trail Unit. As noted in Chapter 4, the NPS, the BLM, and the state's Department of Natural Resources had signed a cooperative agreement on August 11, 1972. That agreement had stated that the NPS "shall undertake to provide management and protection and do what may be necessary to administer, protect, improve, and maintain the lands and associated resources" in the Chilkoot Trail corridor. As a result of that agreement, Glacier Bay Superintendent Robert Howe hired two young men, Scott Sappington and Chuck Nelson, to serve as trail rangers beginning in 1973. Those men had no impact on the Dyea area; their only cabin was a shelter near Sheep Camp.

The NPS continued to employ trail rangers in succeeding years. They have, in fact, remained a summertime staple on the Chilkoot to the present day. In other ways, however, the passage of the park bill changed the management of the unit. As noted in Chapter 5, the park's authorization allowed the agency to begin purchasing land. In July 1977 the NPS bought much of the Patterson homestead, at the north end of the historic Dyea townsite. Then, eleven months later, it purchased the former Pullen and Matthews homesteads; that property, which totalled more than 335 acres, included most of the remainder of old Dyea. [1]

Regarding the remainder of the Chilkoot Trail Unit, the NPS made it known that it hoped to acquire as much of it as possible. The BLM, which owned a small parcel near the top of Chilkoot Pass, had already transferred the parcel to its sister agency. [2] The state, however, had been told in June 1974 that the BLM had approved the state's 1961 land selections, and it showed no immediate interest in divesting its interest in the trail corridor. (Given the language in the park authorization act, donation was the only transfer method possible.) Both the state and the NPS recognized that the 1972 cooperative agreement was scheduled to terminate "at such time as legislation is enacted to establish the proposed Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park or at such time as the parties hereto may hereafter agree." [3]

Given the state's continuing control over the trail corridor, both parties got ready to renew their agreement. The process that resulted in that agreement began in 1977 with Superintendent Richard Hoffman. By mid-February 1978 it had been signed by G. Bryan Harry, the Director of the NPS's Alaska Area Office, and on April 6 it became effective when signed by Robert E. LeResche, the Commissioner of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources. [4]

The new agreement was more comprehensive than the 1972 pact had been. While the initial agreement had been limited to Chilkoot Trail operations, the 1978 version gave the NPS management authority over the newly-authorized Dyea and White Pass areas as well. The agreement called on the Service "to do what may be necessary to administer, protect, improve and maintain the lands and associated resources" within the park. It demanded the permission of both parties to erect any new facilities or signs; to undertake any cultural excavations or object collecting; to provide law enforcement; to move the Dyea Cemetery (see section below); to transfer land parcels; and to prepare recreational or historical management plans. The agreement was valid for a three-year period. Consistent with the purposes of the park authorization act, the agreement decreed that lands could be transferred from the state to the federal government only by donation, and that any such transfer was subject to state legislative review. [5]

The scope of the cooperative agreement was soon broadened to cover a great deal of acreage outside of the park boundary. As noted in Chapter 4, the long-anticipated Haines-Skagway Area Land Use Plan was completed in June 1979. After the April 1978 signing of the cooperative agreement, state officials made it increasingly clear that such state-owned areas as the West Creek drainage, Nahku Bay, and the Nourse River Valley would be jointly managed by the state and the NPS. State officials apparently recognized that the federal government was better able to manage these areas than the state; as a result, they allowed the NPS to manage areas outside park boundaries so long as they first consulted with the Alaska authorities. [6]

Map 8. Dyea as it probably appeared in 1898. Note boundaries of the three early homesteads. Source: Frank Norris, Dyea-Chilkoot Trail Historic Structures Report (draft), unpub. mss. c. 1986. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Map 9. Dyea in the 1990s. Source: NPS, Draft General Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, June/July 1996. 2.6. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

The Dyea Cemetery Relocation

The first NPS management action undertaken after the signing of the cooperative agreement was the removal, in April 1978, of several graves from the edge of the Taiya River to less threatened ground.

The problem, which was a full-blown crisis in 1978, had been slowly incubating for years. During the gold rush, Dyea had had two major cemeteries. The Dyea cemetery, also called the town, old, or Native cemetery, had been established on a city block (between Sixth and Seventh avenues and between Broadway and West streets) when the town was laid out in October 1897. Both Natives and non-Natives were buried there. Then, in April 1898, an avalanche killed more than 60 stampeders between Sheep Camp and the Scales, and more than half of the deceased were buried in the so-called Slide Cemetery. (The bodies of the remaining victims were shipped Outside.) [7]

After the gold rush, the two cemeteries were largely forgotten. Maintenance activities at the sites were limited to a 1940 cleanup by a Civilian Conservation Corps crew, a 1950s cleanup by Skagway residents, and 1962 cleanup by a crew from the Youth and Adult Authority. (See chapters 2 and 3.) In addition, local resident William C. Matthews maintained the Dyea Cemetery. Matthews, the son of Dyea homesteader William E. Matthews, had lived in Dyea from the gold rush until the 1920s. He then moved to Skagway, where he lived until 1973. But he returned intermittently to Dyea and occasionally cleaned up the cemetery, in part because several relatives were buried there. [8]

Despite the cleanup activities, the cemeteries deteriorated. Headboards disintegrated or became illegible, grave fences were broken, and tree growth invaded. At the Dyea Cemetery, Matthews had erected a rude log fence that kept horses out, but at the Slide Cemetery, grazing and trampling took place. By the 1970s, relatively few headboards had been lost at the Slide Cemetery, but at the Dyea Cemetery, the deterioration was far worse. Only nine of the estimated 50 to 75 burials could still be identified. [9]

A worse threat was the Taiya River. During the gold rush, the river's western bank had been several hundred feet (and three city blocks) east of the Dyea Cemetery. But the Dyea townsite was laid on a relatively soft, sandy surface, and in the 1920s or 1930s a major meander developed, which resulted in the river eroding ever closer to the old burial ground. The construction of the "steel bridge" across the Taiya River, in 1947 or 1948, and the associated rip-rap installed to protect its piers permanently directed the river in a southwestern direction and toward the townsite. Major floods took place in the late 1940s, in 1953, and in 1967; each eroded portions of old Dyea. In just a few years in the 1970s, the west bank of the Taiya migrated even farther to the west, and in early 1977 it moved a full twenty feet, leaving one of the cemetery's nine remaining marked graves only eleven feet from the riverbank. The cemetery was clearly in jeopardy. [10]

Local residents had long been worried about the migrating river. In 1953, Bill Matthews had warned Governor Frank Heintzleman that the river was threatening the cemetery, three homesteads, and the newly-erected Taiya River bridge. [11] In March 1974, the problem resurfaced, and the river was reportedly "cutting dangerously close" to the city cemetery. NPS official John Rutter recognized that "the necessary rip-rapping of the river ... would involve little time and money." Until the park was authorized, however, his agency could do nothing. [12] He therefore contacted the Department of Highways, which had grading equipment, but that agency could not help because the erosion was not affecting state roads. The NPS then pressed the matter and convinced Natural Resources Commissioner Charles Herbert to talk to Highways Commissioner Bruce Campbell about the matter. In July, Campbell informed the NPS that he was requesting his department "to clean the river channel if the equipment, manpower, and funds are available later this year." Department personnel, however, were unable to respond to the commissioner's request. [13]

In 1975 Bomhoff and Associates, an Anchorage engineering and surveying firm, conducted a river engineering study for the Army Corps of Engineers. That study, completed in April, offered several alternatives for preventing further erosion damage. One called for 1,750 feet of riprap dike; the second, 900 feet of riprap plus two groins (i.e., embankments extending out into the stream); and the third, six groins. The various alternatives would cost $348,400, $375,000, and $416,000, respectively. The projected costs and the potential damage to the river's fishery resources posed by construction plans, however, prevented the state from adopting any of the study's alternatives. [14] The following year, several residents again expressed their concern about the eroding riverbank; in response, Alaska State Parks director Russ Cahill met with NPS officials and suggested that the endangered graves be moved. [15] Still, nothing was done.

A flood in 1977 further endangered the site, and that October, Senator Ted Stevens requested NPS Director William Whalen to investigate the situation. The Washington office contacted Alaskan authorities, who acted immediately. Melody Grauman, of the University of Alaska's Cooperative Park Studies Unit, was tasked to write a cemetery history. In addition, officials wrote a brief relocation plan. On January 4, 1978, Superintendent Richard Hoffman met with Terry McWilliams, the new state parks director, to discuss the situation. The two informally agreed that the best course of action would be to move the Dyea Cemetery graves to a location near the Slide Cemetery. [16]

By February 1978, the Area Office had agreed to fund the relocation project as an emergency undertaking, even though the project, being on state land, should have been the state's responsibility. (As noted above, the federal-state cooperative agreement had not yet been signed.) No decision on project specifics, however, would be made until the public had the opportunity to comment on it. [17] The public meeting took place in Skagway on April 10, four days after the signing of the cooperative agreement.

At that meeting, attended by 35 participants, the NPS proposed the removal of all of Dyea Cemetery's graves to an area just east of the Slide Cemetery. Of those that attended the meeting or submitted later comments, Steve Hites and David Hunz suggested that a far cheaper way to save the cemetery than moving the graves would be to dredge a new channel away from the cemetery; to further protect the site, they suggested that trees be cabled to the riverbank. NPS officials rejected that $6,000 idea, maintaining that it would provide only temporary relief, that it would require annual maintenance expenditures, and that it would eventually fail. All of the other meeting attendees agreed to the Park Service's proposal action except local resident Larry Jacquot. Jacquot, whose family had lived in the area for generations, claimed that a relative of his was buried in an unmarked grave; on the basis of that claim, he protested the removal of that grave from its existing site. [18]

In order to allay Jacquot's concerns, NPS officials decided to remove only the marked graves in Dyea Cemetery. Craig Davis, an archeologist in the Alaska Area Office, examined the site on April 22 and drew a rough sketch map. Davis returned to the area on May 19. He first staked out the site, near the Slide Cemetery, where the Dyea Cemetery graves would be relocated. On May 25, a backhoe dug out the new grave- sites. Meanwhile, he and a crew of local residents exhumed the remains of eight of the nine identified graves and moved to the newly-dug gravesites. (The ninth grave, of M. F. Henderson, lay under three fully-grown trees; Davis, therefore, decided to leave the grave in its place.) The project, which was completed on May 27, cost about $30,000. [19]

The grave removal project was intended as an emergency action, inasmuch as predictions had called for the river to cut 30 feet into the cemetery that year and for the entire cemetery to be washed away within three years. NPS officials, clearly alarmed at the river's impact on the historic townsite, measured the erosion rate from 1979 until 1981. Since then, erosion has been slower than expected. Even so, several graves (including the M. F. Henderson grave) washed away during the 1980s. Erosion measuring began again in 1989. In the fall of 1990, floods eroded to within ten feet of some of the major archeological features; as a result, the park's cultural resource specialist excavated a wood-lined privy the following summer. Floods in 1992 and 1994 caused additional problems, and by the fall of 1994 it was feared that the Taiya River would soon claim the gold rush-era McDermott Cabin, near the old Kinney Bridge site. [20] As of this writing, however, the cabin is still standing; a mile to the south, at the Dyea Cemetery, several unmarked graves probably still remain.

Chilkoot Trail and Dyea Landmark Nomination

As noted in Chapter 3, the Chilkoot Trail Unit was first considered for National Historical Landmark status in July 1961, when Charles Snell evaluated the area as part of the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings. As part of his visit to upper Lynn Canal, he toured Dyea and then climbed the Chilkoot Trail to the top of the pass. In his trip report, he listed the "Chilkoot Trail and Dyea" site as having "exceptional value;" it was thus worthy to be nominated as a NHL. That determination, however, was left up to the Consulting Committee for the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings. The committee, in turn, gave its recommendations to the Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments. The advisory board, which met in April 1962, did not recommend Chilkoot Trail and Dyea as a potential NHL.

A decade later, and shortly before the first Congressional bill authorizing a national park unit was introduced, the state nominated the Chilkoot Trail (but not Dyea) to the National Register of Historic Places. The district nomination was submitted by Charles M. Brown, a staffer at the Alaska Division of Parks, on March 15, 1973. Brown's nomination was approved at the national level of significance by the National Register staff in Washington, and on April 14, 1975 it was entered onto the National Register. [21]

The National Historic Landmark designation followed shortly afterward. On December 30, 1975 and on January 3, 1976, Joan M. Antonson of the Alaska Division of Parks completed National Register forms for Dyea Site and the Chilkoot Trail, respectively. In a 1976 theme study, both the Dyea site nomination and the Chilkoot Trail district nomination were recommended as separate NHLs. The National Parks Advisory Board then combined the two nominations into one, and on June 16, 1978, the Secretary of the Interior designated "Chilkoot Trail and Dyea" as a National Historic Landmark. [22] Thereafter, officials with Alaska State Parks and the federal Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service worked to provide a site plaque. On January 25, Janet McCabe of HCRS's Anchorage office presented the NHL plaque to Rand Snure of the Skagway-Dyea Historical Society in a City Hall ceremony. Soon afterward, the NPS installed the plaque at the beginning of the Chilkoot Trail, where it remains to the present day. [23]

Preserving Long Bay

Long Bay (also known as Nahku Bay or Fortune Bay) is the only major embayment between Skagway and Dyea. The bay lies outside of the park boundary, but because of the cultural resources that lay in its waters and the scope of the recently signed federal-state cooperative agreement, NPS personnel played a prominent role in managing the cultural resources it contained.

The bay played a relatively minor role during the early months of the gold rush. On February 15, 1898, however, the bark Canada ran aground on the rocks near Dyea Point. As a result, the ship foundered and sank. During the years which followed, tides moved its hull to the bay's head, and in the 1970s it lay just below the low tide line.

Little interest was shown in either developing or protecting the bay until 1977, when Westours proposed a day boat service between Yankee Cove, north of Juneau, and Skagway. The large tour company first requested approval to moor its day boat, the Fairweather, in Smuggler's Cove, a small inlet located just north of Yakutania Point. The cove, however, was a designated city park. The city council, therefore, refused Westours' request and instead gave the company permission to dock at the small boat harbor, near the White Pass dock. It used that moorage the following summer.

Then, in November 1978, Westours announced its interest in mooring its day boat in Long Bay. Creating the moorage would require dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers; the company promised, however, that its facilities would not damage the bark Canada. Many in the city were in favor of the company's request, recognizing that Westours was responsible for funneling large numbers of tourists into Skagway. The city council, however, was opposed to the idea. [24] National Park Service historian Robert Spude, who was also opposed to Westours' plans, wrote an in-depth history of the Canada. Perhaps acting on the city's recommendations, Spude nominated the ship to the National Register of Historic Places. The city council met to discuss the matter on February 15, 1979, and despite the protestations of Westours personnel, who claimed that the dock and the boat hull were mutually compatible, council members supported the National Register nomination. [25] Westours thereafter gave up on Long Bay and instead made a second attempt to obtain a moorage permit at Smugglers Cove. The city's Planning and Zoning Commission held a hearing on the proposed action on April 2. Following the meeting, the council decided to submit the question to a public vote. On May 15, the Skagway electorate rejected Westours' request on a lopsided 161-69 vote. [26] Since that time, Westours has continued to moor the Fairweather at the small boat harbor.

Initial Planning Efforts

By the fall of 1978, the NPS had acquired the old Pullen Homestead and much of the former Patterson homestead, and it had signed a cooperative agreement with the state over management of its lands in Dyea and other areas. Given that degree of authority, Superintendent Hoffman set out to draft a Dyea area public management plan.

To Hoffman, the major problems in the Dyea area dealt with what economic and recreational activities would be allowed on the public lands. At that time, a host of activities took place there: hunting, camping, horse grazing, and the riding of such vehicles as motorcycles, four wheel drives, air boats, and snow machines.

The park's master plan gave the superintendent almost no direction on how to proceed, because it dealt only with the protection and interpretation of historic resources. The plan called for the agency to survey the historic street pattern, and remove brush from the original street alignments; to preserve, protect, and interpret the two historic cemeteries, the wharf, and the townsite; and to provide for the protection of the waterfront and tidelands, in cooperation with the state. [27]

Hoffman recognized that the Dyea flats, and the other public lands in the area, were some of the few open recreational areas available to Skagway residents. He therefore proposed to create a management plan that would allow the continuance of most existing activities. On November 26 and 27, 1978, he held public meetings in Dyea and Skagway, respectively; at those meetings, he noted that although most current land-use activities were forbidden under normal national park regulations, he hoped that local residents would be able to help determine what activities would be permitted. [28]

Following those meetings, NPS planners arrived in Skagway and began to draft a Dyea area management plan. By the following April, a draft plan had been prepared which proposed a number of land-use limitations on Dyea's public lands. The plan, laid out to twenty local residents at an April 6, 1979 public meeting, noted that the use of snowmachines would be allowed, as would in-season waterfowl hunting. In addition, the locally-organized "Dyea Country Club" would have access to the picnic area on the flats for their annual concerts. But airboats, for example, would be prohibited because of their noise, and general shooting would be eliminated as being too dangerous. Fires and camping would be restricted to designated areas, tree cutting would be limited to dead and down trees, and all park roads and vehicle trails would be open to vehicles unless closed for "pertinent reasons." [29]

Meeting participants accepted most of those restrictions. They decried, however, a proposal to restrict horse grazing. Hoffman noted that it was illegal to graze animals on the Dyea Flats; besides, he noted that the flats were severely overgrazed. In order to attract waterfowl back to the area and to "get a good stand of grass" again, he recommended that all animals in the valley be either staked or fenced on private land. Livestock owners protested the proposed plan, and suggested the implementation of a system of controlled grazing in specific areas. Hoffman, however, rebuffed their suggestions. He declared that the ban against grazing would go into effect soon. That ban, however, would not pertain to supervised grazing or to horseback riding. [30]

Despite Hoffman's prediction of the impending grazing prohibition, residents heard nothing more about that or other aspects of the management plan. As a result, residents were free to continue their traditional Dyea activities. The plan was dropped by Alaska Area officials, either because of more pressing business or because the agency, in the wake of Carter's massive December 1978 monument declarations, was in no mood to issue a plan that further restricted Alaskans' access to NPS lands. The only concrete action that followed from the plan was the construction of the Dyea Campground, noted below. By the following February, when NPS planning teams met in Skagway to plan the future of the park, officials were once again decrying the need for planning. Historian Bill Brown felt that what was needed was a Dyea townsite plan, while Wil Logan, aware that Dyea had been bare of trees during the gold rush, proposed clearcutting the Dyea site in order to obtain a full-scale inventory of local historical resources. [31]

Dyea NPS Improvements

Before Congress authorized the park unit, NPS officials recognized that improvements would be necessary in the Dyea area. The 1973 master plan noted that

Dyea needs only a small interpretive structure and a few onsite interpretive devices, to be used during the visitor season. This interpretive building should be manned, for it would also function as a trailhead ranger station for the Chilkoot Trail.

The plan also called for the establishment of two small walk-in campgrounds. [32]

Just before Congress authorized the park, city council members requested NPS officials to plan for, and fund, Dyea campground facilities. Glacier Bay Superintendent (and Klondike keyman) Tom Ritter responded by requesting that "a complete study of potential campground facilities in the Dyea area be conducted soon after the establishment of the park." [33] As noted in Chapter 7, Ritter inspected several facilities himself during an August 1976 reconnaissance. He urged, however, that the NPS go no further without consulting with the state. The state, for its part, was more interested in building a campground in Skagway than Dyea. (In its January 1978 campground study, one of the six proposed area campgrounds was located near the Dyea homestead area; its author, however, played down the site because of its remoteness.) The Alaska legislature that year allotted a token amount for campground improvements, but Senator Stevens failed to gain federal support for a campground as part of Alaska Lands Act legislation. By the end of 1978, the outlook for a Skagway-area campground appeared bleak.

Local NPS officials responded to the rising need for campground space by creating the Dyea Campground complex during the summer of 1979. Chief Ranger Jay Cable and seasonal ranger David Hites-Clabaugh laid out the 22-space campground; adjacent to it, the park constructed small tent frames for the ranger station, two ranger cabins, a shower facility, and two outhouses. The entire campground complex was constructed on state land; its western end was within the park's boundaries but the entrance area, parking lot, picnic area, and ranger station buildings were not. Although the campground was situated on state-owned land, its construction was condoned by state officials because it was consistent with the intent of the recently signed federal-state cooperative agreement. [34]

The NPS made few improvements to the Dyea area during the 1980s. For one reason, Skagway Historic District rehabilitation was a higher priority than improvements in Dyea; this was because relatively few tourists visited Dyea and because local interests lobbied to keep funds at work in the historic district. In addition, Dyea's cultural resources were not completely known pending a thorough survey of the area, and NPS officials were unwilling to expend funds in Dyea without having a management plan in place. And regarding Dyea campground, NPS officials were less than enthusiastic about expending funds to improve an area that was on state-owned land and, in part, outside of the park. [35]

Despite those factors, the agency gradually improved the Dyea area. In 1980, rangers installed bulletin boards at Dyea campground and the Chilkoot Trail head. In 1981, the park improved the 1.5-mile road between the state-maintained Dyea Road and the Slide Cemetery, and in 1985 it made trail, fence, and restroom improvements at the cemetery. [36]

The 1979 Archeological Survey

Although Skagway residents had long considered Dyea as a popular site for bottle hunting and other informal excavations, the first formal archeological survey took place on May 29, 1975, when contractors for the Sealaska Corporation surveyed Native cemeteries and burial sites as part of a so-called 14(h)1 survey. Archeologists that day made a short visit to the Dyea Cemetery and vainly searched for nearby evidence of a Native settlement. [37]

Shortly after that survey was completed, Robert C. Dunnell, chairman of the University of Washington Anthropology Department, and Jerry V. Jermann, of the UW Office of Public Archaeology, prepared a scope of work to NPS officials for a parkwide archeological survey and inventory. (As noted in Chapter 4, the university had participated in several other studies during the mid-1970s.) That proposal, submitted on October 21, 1975, was accepted but put on hold pending the passage of the park bill. [38]

The UW proposal was discarded for the time being. But by the fall of 1977 the idea of an archeological survey had been revived, and park personnel hoped to sponsor a survey the following summer that would cover Dyea, Canyon City, and possibly Sheep Camp. [39] No survey, however, was made in 1978, and it was not until March 1979 that the NPS contracted with the UW Office of Public Archaeology for a survey. Jermann and Dunnell served as co-Principal Investigators, while Regional Archeologist Charles Bohannon represented the National Park Service.

The survey, headed by Caroline Carley, took place during the summer of 1979. Carley and her assistants, Robert Weaver and Robert King, surveyed Dyea and the major settlement sites along the Chilkoot Trail, and they made a cursory evaluation of major trailside features between Pleasant Camp and the top of Chilkoot Pass. In addition, the archeological team made a brief survey of the White Pass Unit and inventoried items at Porcupine Hill, along the Brackett Wagon Road, and in old White Pass City. [40]

During their season's work, which featured almost continuous rain, the three-person team inventoried and recorded an astonishing number of archeological features. In the Chilkoot Trail Unit, they located more than 40 collapsed or scattered structures, 27 foundations, 93 pits and 19 artifact concentrations, along with many associated artifacts. Some of those resources were located in Dyea, including 10 general features, 13 structures, two foundations, 79 pits, and two artifact concentrations. Scores of additional resources were found in the White Pass Unit. [41] The team concentrated first on those sites that were most vulnerable to visitor impacts, and made no attempt to complete a thorough inventory. The survey was completed in mid-September; a final report was completed in 1981. [42]

The same summer that Carley was at work, contract historian Robert Spude was gathering information on the Chilkoot Trail Unit's historical resources. Combining notes gathered from field work as well as from secondary source materials, he compiled historical diary and newspaper entries with an array of graphic materials to give a broad background of historical data about Dyea, Canyon City, Sheep Camp, and other sites along the U. S. side of the Chilkoot Trail. The results of his research, which included suggestions on how to preserve the trail's historical resources, were published in a 213-page volume entitled Chilkoot Trail; from Dyea to Summit with the '98 Stampeders, published in late 1980 by the University of Alaska's Cooperative Park Studies Unit. [43]

During the period which followed Carley's survey, the city of Skagway moved to annex the Dyea area and a vast area which surrounded it. Until February 1978, Skagway's city boundaries had been limited to a one square mile rectangle at the lower end of Skagway Valley, and for the next two years the city encompassed just 11 square miles, still within the Skagway Valley watershed. But beginning in mid-1978, officials recognized that if the city expanded its boundaries to encompass all of the area between Haines Borough and the Canadian border, it would be able to select state lands for its own purposes in the Taiya River valley. (It would also be able to fend off any annexation attempts by Haines Borough.) A vote to annex the area was defeated in the 1978 municipal election, but in July 1979 the city submitted a second annexation petition to the Alaska Local Boundary Commission. That petition, which was opposed by several Dyea residents, resulted in the annexation question being placed, once again, on the local ballot. More than 60 percent of Skagway's voters in the October election approved the measure, and on November 17, the commission held an annexation hearing in Skagway and accepted the city's annexation petition. [44]

The only remaining roadblock to the creation of an expanded boundary was the Alaska legislature, which had 45 days to reject the commission's action. The legislature convened in January 1980, and on February 29, the Senate Community and Regional Affairs committee held a hearing in Juneau to field public opinion on the subject. No one at that hearing, however, moved to deny Skagway's annexation petition, and soon afterward the annexation became law. Thereafter, the City of Skagway encompassed 431 square miles, and extended from the Haines Borough boundary to the Canadian border. [45]

The Dyea Land Acquisition Plan

By the beginning of 1980, as noted in Chapter 5, agency officials had completed the purchase of most of the private parcels that they had hoped to buy in both the Skagway Historic District and in the Dyea area. Then, in April 1980, Klondike Superintendent Richard Sims issued the park's first land acquisition plan. The plan, which was required for all parks that contained non-federal lands, stated that

In order to effectively prevent damage or adverse impacts to the Park's historical resources, and to properly develop and interpret the park for the public, the NPS must acquire the majority of the lands in the White Pass and Chilkoot Trail units.... Leases, zoning restrictions, cooperative agreements, scenic easements, purchase of development rights, and any other protective controls of less than clear, fee-simple ownership ... provide less than the best possible protection for the nationally significant park resources. Therefore, fee-simple title to all lands and waters except the privately owned property in the Chilkoot Trail unit of the park will be acquired. [46]

The document, which dealt with lands throughout the park, focused on lands in the Chilkoot Trail Unit. It made arrangements for a potential land exchange in order to obtain the large state-selected holdings, and it requested the transfer of BLM and Forest Service lands to the NPS. Regarding privately-held lands in the Dyea area, the document stated that

Private lands in the Chilkoot Trail unit of the Park will be acquired only on a willing seller/willing buyer basis. Normally, any private lands acquired will be purchased in fee simple. Scenic easements, development rights or other less than fee simple interests will be considered only in unusual or special circumstances.... There will be no priority system for acquiring private lands since such lands will be acquired only in instances where landowners express a desire to sell their properties to the National Park Service. [47]

The plan noted that "At least one private residence within the park appears to be located on public lands," and procedures were outlined on how such cases would be adjudicated. The plan also contained a section that outlined compatible and incompatible land uses for private landowners in the park. That section prevented "construction or development of any kind" on undeveloped land; it also prohibited "replacement of a major structure with one that is substantially different in size, location or purpose from its predecessor" on developed land. [48]

The plan was issued on April 11, and it immediately ran into a barrage of criticism, primarily in response to the "incompatible use" statement. On April 16, Dyea landowners Robert and Julie Burton wrote a lengthy protest letter to the mayor, the city council, Governor Hammond and the Congressional delegation, calling the restrictions laid out in the plan "unreasonable and unworkable." The basis for their protest was the plan's prohibition against new home construction, an activity the couple had hoped to begin in the near future. The Burtons noted that "subdividing, building homes, additions to homes and out buildings, and clearing of land for agricultural, fuel supply and safety purposes" were "rights that came to us with the deed of ownership." Each of those activities, however, were either restricted or banned in the draft plan. They further noted that since the Dyea homestead area was seldom visited by tourists and was separated by some distance from the historical townsite, "we view the regulations for inholders as set forth in the Plan as an invasion of privacy." [49]

The Burtons' cause was soon joined by Willard F. "Skip" Elliott, who had been active in the Dyea area since 1975 and was the co-owner of the Burtons' property. [50] At the April 17 city council meeting, Elliott asked the city (which by now included Dyea within its boundaries) to support the cause of the Dyea residents. The council agreed, and on April 24 Mayor Robert Messegee wrote Sims, asking for a public hearing on the subject. Jeff Brady, an editor of the local Lynn Canal News and normally a backer of NPS concerns, also railed against the plan's unfairness and called for a public hearing. Sims, who because of a bureaucratic snafu had had little time to prepare the plan, demurred on the idea of a public hearing; he claiming that there was insufficient public interest in the matter, and also noted, "What's more public than [written] comments?" Local residents, unsatisfied by his response, appealed to the Congressional delegation for help, and in early May, Acting Deputy Director Daniel Tobin was prevailed upon to schedule a public meeting. Sims dutifully repeated to a meeting of the Skagway city council that a meeting would be held soon, and as late as February 1981 he noted that the agency "fully plans to hold hearings" on the land acquisition plan. [51]

The superintendent, however, never set a date for a hearing despite repeated prodding from Elliott, and the draft plan was quietly shelved. It was not until March 1981 that an NPS official told local residents why the meeting was never held. According to Deputy Director Douglas Warnock, the delay was caused by pressing business related to the Alaska Lands Act, which cleared Congress in November 1980 and was signed by President Carter a month later. By that time Ronald Reagan had been elected president, and Reagan's appointees let it be known that a land acquisition plan was no longer required for each park. NPS officials, for their part, were glad to avoid having to finalize the plan; they certainly had no desire to face a hostile crowd at a public hearing. [52]

Meanwhile, and for several months to follow, Dyea landowners and the Park Service remained at odds on the subject. At least one Dyea resident hurried the construction of her house before any plan could go into effect. Worsening the situation was a series of policing actions by NPS officials. In April, for example, rangers conducted a series of contacts with Dyea residents concerning the legality of their land claims. [53] That summer, rangers made daily trips to the cabin of Al and Janeen Huntley, which the NPS claimed was on public land; in other cases, rangers allegedly drove onto private property and remained without asking permission. Chief Ranger Jay Cable photographed a free-ranging dairy cow belonging to John and Lorna McDermott. Finally, rangers ordered Dyea residents Lucinda Hites and Sue Hosford to stop work on a 10' x 50' community garden which was located on park land; soon afterward, the rangers took down the fence around the garden enclosure. The combined effect of those actions, trivial as they may have seemed to the NPS, caused local attitudes toward the agency to fester and sour. [54]

In the midst of this dispute, the city moved to obtain land in the Taiya River valley. The recent annexation had allowed the city to select 215 acres of land; that land was to be chosen from four parcels in the Dyea area that had recently been conveyed to the state. Once the city obtained the land, it hoped to sell it back to private owners. On August 5, city leaders met with Superintendent Sims and state officials on the matter, and two days later, the city council voted unanimously to select land from two of the four noted parcels. Area #1 was a 90-acre parcel on the north side of West Creek, while Area #2, which bordered Area #1 on the south, was a 138-acre parcel between West Creek and the mouth of the Taiya River. Area #1 was outside of the park, but Area #2 straddled the park boundary, 133 acres of it being inside the park. Mayor Messegee recognized the potential for conflict, and noted that "we're going to have a hell of a fight with the park service." [55]

The park service, as expected, protested the city's selections within the park boundary in a September 4 letter. It did so because it hoped, some day, to relocate the Chilkoot Trail in the Dyea area to its historic location on the west side of the Taiya River, and the city's selection was in the planned trail relocation area. Three weeks later, the state's division of lands acceded to the agency's request; it decided to convey only those lands in the two parcels that were outside of the park. The state sided with the NPS because the recently-completed Haines-Skagway Area Land Use Plan cited parklands as being reserved areas; it also supported the NPS because it had supported park legislation. (It may also have sided with the NPS because of the state-federal cooperative agreement, which had been in force since 1978. The agreement specifically stated that it would "in no way be deemed to be a transfer of title to any lands ... nor constitute in any way ... a relinquishment of any [title] by any of the parties." The state had no interest at that time in violating the agreement.) The city, angry at the state's decision, decided to appeal it; it also applied for an additional 153 acres farther up West Creek. [56]

As noted in chapters 6 and 7, affairs in Dyea had not been the only source of tension during 1980 between Skagway-area residents and the park service. Residents, for example, were becoming increasingly unhappy that the agency's downtown buildings were remaining unimproved, that the agency was not forthcoming about the pace of rehabilitation, and that buildings were not being leased back to private interests. Problems with the Arctic Brotherhood Hall and the administrative site exacerbated the situation. By the end of the year, the accumulated effect of problems in Skagway and Dyea had brought relations between the NPS and local residents to an all-time low.

In January 1981, Dyea resident Skip Elliott was appointed as the Skagway City Manager. Soon afterward, Dyea residents invited Charles Cushman, the president of the National Inholders Association, to share his views and expertise with them. Cushman, an inholder at Yosemite, had formed the association just three years earlier; he was invited to Mike and Sue Hosford's Dyea residence on February 15. The thirty or so inholders in the audience told Cushman, in short, that they did not like the way that the NPS had been treating them, and they cited as evidence the fiasco over the land acquisition plan, and the actions of the "gestapo" NPS rangers the previous summer. Others were upset that Richard Sims, the current superintendent, had discarded the promises that Richard Hoffman had made two years earlier during the formulation of the Dyea management plan. Cushman was able to offer a number of suggestions on how to deal with the NPS. In addition, the very fact that the meeting took place crystallized the inholders' need to react strongly to the agency's failings. [57]

Four days after Cushman's visit, Skagway city councilman Marvin Taylor reacted to the deteriorating situation by suggesting that the city write NPS Director Russell Dickenson, outlining the extent of residents' complaints and the basis for them. That same week, city manager Skip Elliott went to Juneau and testified to the Senate Resources Committee on SB 36, a National Inholders Association-supported bill that would have set up an Alaskan Citizens' Advisory Commission on Federal Areas to deal with state land management issues. Elliott used the occasion to describe the Cushman meeting and to complain of the NPS's management excesses in the Dyea area, noting that there was "not a single person in Skagway" who supported the way the agency was managing the park. The NPS, for its part, was nonplussed by all the activity. When a reporter asked Sims about his assessment of the Dyea land situation, he replied that he was unaware of any problems that existed, declaring that "I haven't had a single person in the last several months complaining about anything. I can't see that the park service has done anything detrimental." [58]

On February 27, as noted in Chapter 7, Elliott wrote Dickenson a lengthy letter detailing the concerns of local residents. He noted that "the tension that has been developing in the past several years between the city of Skagway and the National Park Service has become quite intense in the past few weeks." He noted that cooperation between the two entities still existed, but that "broken promises, inconsistencies in park policy, and poor public relations has made cooperation difficult, at best." He asked Dickenson to attend a public meeting in Skagway and

establish for the record the expected and intended level of NPS involvement in our community both politically and economically... Moreover, we would like to establish, in a legally binding manner, guarantees of specific traditional uses, guarantees that condemnation will not be used in this park, and guarantees that the Park Service will recognize the authority of the City of Skagway to plan and zone private properties within its municipal boundaries.

Elliott then proceeded to list problems that had taken place with the land acquisition plan, the use of NPS buildings along Broadway, the Dyea community garden, and the illegal placement of an NPS mobile home in the Skagway Historic District. In a dour closing note, he concluded that "These are the major issues.... Compare the mistrust and anger that exists in Skagway today to the open-armed friendliness that once existed between Skagway and the NPS. The honeymoon is over and it is time to negotiate in writing the terms of the marriage contract." [59]

While Dickenson and other NPS officials were mulling over Elliott's tome, local residents were prevailing upon their representatives in Juneau. They, in turn, prepared resolutions dealing with the Klondike situation. On March 4, 1981, the House Resources Committee introduced House Joint Resolution 26; the same day, the Senate Resources Committee introduced an identical measure, Senate Joint Resolution 25. The two resolutions listed a long litany of grievances, most of which had been expressed in Elliott's letter to Dickenson. The resolutions asked the Secretary of the Interior to "investigate promptly the charges made against the actions and policies of the NPS at the ... Park," and that the Secretary "direct the NPS to adhere to the commitments made by Congress to the people of Skagway in establishing [the] Park." Copies of the resolutions were forwarded to Interior Secretary James Watt, NPS Director Russell Dickenson, and the three members of the Alaska Congressional delegation. Neither resolution fared well; both died in committee. Their very introduction, however, alerted federal officials of the state's concerns over park management. [60]

The same day that the two resolutions were introduced, Deputy Regional Director Douglas G. Warnock flew to Skagway to resolve the issues that Elliott had addressed a week earlier. Warnock conferred for more than five hours with Skip Elliott, Robert Messegee and John McDermott in a meeting Warnock described as "extremely cordial." Warnock quickly learned that the agency's attitude toward condemnation was the trio's primary concern, and he was pleased to tell them that the NPS had no interest in acquiring land in that way. He did hope that there might be a visual buffer or screen between historic Dyea and the homestead area; given current developments, however, there was no danger of that buffer being threatened.

Warnock reiterated the city's legal right to zone private lands in the Dyea area. His agency had no plans to close off access to the beach or to close any other roads in the Dyea area; he noted, however, that hunting and trapping would henceforth be prohibited and that Superintendent Sims was correct in closing down the community garden. He hoped to lease the first downtown-area park buildings in the spring of 1982, and justified the park's use of the buildings because of the lack of seasonal housing. He admitted that the NPS violated the trailer ordinance when Superintendent Sims occupied the trailer in the historic district, and he promised that Sims would move "in the near future." He defended the ranger "snooping" in Dyea the previous summer, because the agency needed to be certain that the unoccupied cabins stayed that way.

Regarding the horse grazing situation on the Dyea flats, the city officials requested that grazing be allowed to continue under a permit system, perhaps with a reduced number of animals for the 1981 summer season. As a final note, Warnock proposed that Regional Director John Cook attend a public meeting in the near future. Warnock felt that his meeting was "very worthwhile;" he received like expressions from both Elliott and McDermott as the meeting concluded. [61]

As noted in Chapter 6, Cook flew to Skagway on March 26 and appeared before a public meeting in Skagway's city hall. A crowd of 45 heard Cook expostulate the agency's positions on a variety of topics, and meeting participants listed many of the same complaints that city officials had provided two weeks earlier. The regional director, to a large extent, backed up the statements that Warnock had made, and because of his position as regional director, many of the statements he made became the NPS's ad hoc policy as soon as they were uttered. Cook, for instance, allowed the city to manage the Dyea community garden, and he sympathized with those who wanted to remove dead and down timber from park lands for firewood. But he, like Warnock, continued to insist that subsistence hunting and trapping were illegal. Those in the audience liked Cook's open, offhand style; many openly admitted that they were pro-park, but disappointed in the way things were being handled, especially in Dyea. Cook was applauded at the end of the meeting. A reporter there noted that "It was the first time a federal official had received applause in Skagway since the park was dedicated in 1977." [62]

As a result of the hubbub that began with the April 1980 issuance of the draft land acquisition plan, the NPS learned--painfully--that it was unwise to demand land-use controls from Dyea residents, particularly from those whose property did not impinge on the historic townsite area. The agency learned a great deal about what activities were important to those residents. It tried to accommodate some of those activities, but agency rules prevented the acceptance of others. The visits, in March 1981, of Douglas Warnock and John Cook did a great deal to bridge the communications gap that had separated the NPS from local residents during the previous year. Thereafter, the antagonistic feelings between the NPS and Dyea residents began to dissipate.

The West Creek Hydroelectric Project

No sooner had the NPS extricated itself from the brouhaha surrounding the land acquisition plan than the agency became involved in another Dyea land use issue. To be decided was whether a hydroelectric dam and its associated powerhouse would be built along West Creek, at the western edge of the park's Chilkoot Trail Unit.

Portions of the West Creek drainage had been logged during the mid-1960s, and since that time the area had been popular for hunting, hiking, gathering firewood, cutting house logs, and berry picking. The Haines-Skagway Area Land Use Plan, finalized in 1979, urged a continuation of those activities. That same year, however, the Alaska legislature allotted $50,000 to the Alaska Power Administration for a study of potential hydroelectric sites in the Haines area. The CH2M Hill consulting company conducted the survey and revealed several promising sites in the vicinity of Haines and Skagway. Following that study was a more intensive feasibility study, by R. W. Beck Associates of Seattle. The Beck study, which was released in draft form in late 1980, noted that most area sites showed little economic promise. A dam and power plant on West Creek, however, would be able to provide power at 28 cents per kilowatt hour, a rate that compared favorably with that which Haines and Skagway residents paid for their diesel power. Skagway, at the time, was able to rely on relatively cheap hydroelectric power during the summertime, when copious quantities of water were available. (Skagway's water source was the reservoir adjacent to Lower Dewey Lake.) But Skagway required more expensive diesel generation during the winter months, and Haines depended on diesel for power on a year-round basis. A project along West Creek promised sufficient power to satisfy the needs of both Haines and Skagway all year long. [63]

The project that Beck (and its predecessors) proposed was to be located at the north end of the Dyea townsite. The dam, which was planned to be 107 feet high, would itself be of little concern to NPS officials; the spillway would be located three miles west of the creek's confluence with the Taiya River (and two miles west of the park boundary), and the accompanying reservoir would flood 500 acres west of the dam. Other aspects of the project, however, were more worrisome to the agency. The powerhouse below the dam was projected to be inside the park boundary, at the northwestern end of the Dyea homestead area and just south of West Creek. The proposed powerplant would be located within park boundaries, in or near a two-acre parcel owned by Skagway resident Duncan Hukill. In addition, such ancillary facilities as transmission lines, a penstock and tailrace would be located within the park. [64]

The issue flared into the open in December 1980, when Alaska Power and Telephone (a utility company which served Skagway) responded to the draft report by filing for water rights on West Creek. AP&T made its filing in hopes that it might build a relatively small-scale "run of the river" power project. But others had larger ideas and protested accordingly. Haines Light and Power, the Haines and Skagway city councils, and the Alaska Power Administration (APA) all protested the filing because they hoped to see a large project built. The draft study had concluded that cheap power could only be realized if both utilities worked together, and AP&T openly declared its refusal to work with HL&P on project development. [65]

For the next several months, officials and local residents could do little but await the completion of the Beck feasibility study. Soon after it was completed, its findings were presented in public meetings that were held in Haines on April 28 and in Skagway the following day. At those meetings, Beck representatives noted that there were actually three feasible projects in upper Lynn Canal: West Creek, Goat Lake (in the Skagway River Valley), and upper Chilkoot Lake (north of Haines). Each of the projects, if built, would serve both communities; Haines and Skagway would be connected by a submarine cable. Of the three, however, the $31.6 million West Creek project was the top choice. [66]

Representatives from R. W. Beck and the Alaska Power Administration concluded that they would next seek funding to conduct a more detailed West Creek feasibility study. The Skagway City Council agreed; at its May 7 meeting, it voted in favor of APA's feasibility study, and vowed that it would try to block AP&T's "run of the river" project on West Creek. Meanwhile, the bill that would authorize the $1 million study, SB 26, wound its way through the legislature. [67]

The passage of SB 26 that year, and the purported economic feasibility of the project, heightened the expectations of local officials. Those officials recognized that for the project to succeed, however, the powerplant would not be able to be located on NPS land. As Douglas Warnock had warned in March, "such a project or crossing of park land by any portion of a power development requires approval of Congress." [68]

The topography of the area did not allow the powerplant or the transmission lines to avoid crossing the park. In order to avoid the problem, therefore, local officials proposed eliminating the Dyea area from the park. Marvin Taylor, a pro-development member of the city council, proposed that the Chilkoot Trail Unit of the park be reduced to a 100-foot strip that stretched from the Dyea trailhead to the top of Chilkoot Pass. He based his resolution on the litany of inholder problems that had recently surfaced; he was also emboldened because his suggestion that the Chilkoot Trail unit be reduced, at the March 26 John Cook meeting, won the "unanimous approval of those in attendance." At its September 3, 1981 meeting, the Skagway City Council passed a resolution calling on Congress to reduce the Chilkoot Trail Unit to a 100-foot strip. The resolution also called for the elimination of the park's White Pass Unit. [69]

Following the vote, city officials forwarded the resolution to the Congressional delegation. Senator Frank Murkowski responded by asking the NPS's congressional liaison, Ira Whitlock, to prepare a draft bill that would carry out the council's wishes. The NPS prepared the bill, which would have transferred Chilkoot Trail Unit land to the BLM and White Pass Unit land to the BLM and the Forest Service. Neither Murkowski nor others in the delegation, however, introduced it. For the moment, the proposal to delete the majority of the Chilkoot Trail Unit was dead. [70]

The passage of SB 26, as noted above, authorized the Alaska Power Administration to spend $1 million on a detailed West Creek dam feasibility study. Soon after the bill's August 4 implementation date, a contract was awarded to R. W. Beck Associates, and by September, drillers and geologists were working in the Dyea area and attempting to determine whether the geological substrate could support the proposed 107-foot dam. The contract called for a completion date of March 1982. APA officials at the time predicted that dam construction could begin as early as 1984, with the dam complete and operating in 1986. [71]

Midway through the feasibility study, on January 14, 1982, an APA representative met with Skagway residents on the project. Brent Petrie reiterated that West Creek was "financially, geologically, and environmentally superior" to either Goat Lake or Upper Chilkoot Lake as a hydroelectric site. Petrie noted that after further studies, the project would cost $55 million. The size of the proposed West Creek dam would be anywhere from 50 to 105 feet high and between 300 and 1500 feet long. The consulting company, by this time, had found two alternative powerhouse locations; the NPS site, however, was financially and geologically superior to the other two sites. [72]

Upon completion of the Beck study, representatives of APA and the consulting company returned to Haines and Skagway, where meetings were held on April 20 and 21, respectively. The project's cost, by now, had risen to $63.5 million--high enough "to scare people," noted a local newspaper story, but still cheaper than either existing systems or other energy alternatives. Officials, by this time, were predicting that construction would begin in 1986. [73]

The APA next got ready to make a formal project application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Before it could do so, however, the agency sought to determine the extent of the cultural resources that would be impacted by project development. In the summer of 1981, Beck had contracted with Environaid, Inc. of Juneau, which had provided them with baseline data; the following May, CSPU archeologist Harvey M. Shields spent a day in Dyea performing compliance work and located "nothing of any significance." Additional data were necessary, however, so in August 1982, Beck retained Ertec Northwest, Inc. of Seattle to conduct a more extensive investigation. By mid-August, a team of Ertec archeologists had travelled to Dyea and begun their work. [74]

Action was also taken that summer to clear the legal roadblocks posed by the existence of the park. As noted above, there was no technical alternative to siting the powerplant, the tailrace, and portions of the transmission line within the park boundaries, and to avoid restrictions placed by the park, the city council had tried to eliminate the Dyea area from the park. Until the spring of 1982, APA officials had also pressed for a Congressionally-approved redrawing of the park boundaries; they also hoped to exchange NPS land in the homestead area for state land located elsewhere in Alaska. That April, however, the APA met with Superintendent Sims and discovered that the state agency might be able to obtain a permit for the powerhouse and an easement for the construction of a transmission line through the park. Sims promised them that the permitting process might be completed within a year. [75]

During the next few months, the land difficulties surrounding the proposed dam reached the office of James G. Watt, Reagan's Interior Secretary. Watt learned that similar problems existed in other Alaska parks, so on September 1, he announced a plan to exchange NPS land for state land in four Alaska parks. A total of 26,000 acres in Denali and Glacier Bay national parks, as well as 22 acres at Klondike, were to be transferred to the state in exchange for 14,000 acres near McCarthy within Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve. Watt noted that "none of the lands being traded to the state were essential to the parks involved," and state officials frankly admitted that "we will definitely be getting more value as well as more acres." Conservationists, however, attacked the plan, noting that it was weighted in favor of economic development and that it set a bad precedent. [76]

Several weeks after Watt's announcement, state Natural Resources officials announced that a public hearing on the proposed land trade would be held in late November. But on October 8, an event took place that placed the entire project in jeopardy and made moot all discussion of the proposed land swap. The White Pass and Yukon Route railroad ceased operating that day, and soon afterward, the White Pass announced that it might not operate passenger trains in the summer of 1983. Because the White Pass was Skagway's largest single power user, its discontinuance of service caused APA officials to withdraw $350,000 that had originally been earmarked for the West Creek project. [77]

Support for the project, and the land swap, deteriorated after that point. Due to the election of a new governor, state Natural Resources personnel did not hold a public hearing on the land swap. APA and Beck officials, however, met with local citizens in early December to amend their study. At that time, the APA's Brent Petrie pessimistically noted that "In absence of the railroad (power) load, it does not look like (West Creek) is feasible." [78]

The West Creek project was effectively abandoned at that point. Studies generated by the project, however, were completed long afterward. In March 1983, Ertec Northwest completed its cultural resources survey of the project. That report revealed a host of significant archeological and historical sites in Dyea and on the ridge between the Taiya River and Long Bay. [79]

One of the major sites discovered during the Environaid and Ertec surveys was a marine shell midden located adjacent to Dyea Road, south of Dyea Campground. Investigators considered it sufficiently important to recommend it potentially eligible to the National Register of Historic Places. They filled out no form at that time. Late in 1984, however, the state's Department of Transportation and Public Facilities contemplated a series of widening projects along Dyea Road. Because such actions had the potential to impact the marine shell deposit, the agency contracted with Alaska Archives and Records Management, headed by Glenda Choate. Choate and Nan Fawthrop completed a National Register nomination for the "Dyea Shell Midden" in January 1985. [80]

Interpretive and Ranger Activities

As noted above, the 1973 master plan had called for relatively little park interpretation in the Dyea area. The interpretive centerpiece was to be a combination ranger station and interpretive center; in addition, the agency would interpret the two historic cemeteries, the wharf, and the old townsite. [81]

The plan was implemented slowly and spasmodically. The ranger station was built during the summer of 1979. The following year, rangers installed bulletin boards at Dyea campground and the Chilkoot Trailhead. In 1981, the park's Interpretive Prospectus proposed that a coordinated series of wayside exhibits be placed in Dyea and along the Chilkoot Trail. That plan, if implemented, would have resulted in the installation of historical markers along Dyea Road, at the Slide Cemetery, beside the Long Wharf pilings, and at the false front (the A. M. Gregg real estate office). The plan, however, was revised in 1983 because of cultural resource concerns, and for the time being, signs were installed at only the first two sites. To augment area signage, seasonal ranger Rosemary Libert, in 1984, created ad hoc interpretive markers at the Vining and Wilkes warehouse and the Pullen Barn, both of which had collapsed and were in danger of being looted for firewood. In the late 1980s, as noted in Chapter 9, the wayside exhibit package was completed and new signs were installed. [82]

The Dyea ranger station was an "interpretive center" in only a narrow sense. It offered few mounted photographs or display materials. It did, however, contain various brochures and booklets about the Chilkoot Trail, and its primary purpose was to inform hikers and potential hikers about the conditions that awaited them on the trip north.

In order to provide a broader scope of informational materials, park staff moved to establish a branch of the Alaska Natural History Association. The idea of establishing an independent cooperating association based in Skagway had been around for years, but pressure from local businesses had prevented its creation. It was not until 1981 that an ANHA branch was founded at the park. The branch, which operated only out of the Dyea Ranger Station, was overseen by the park's interpretive specialist. It sold books--both historical volumes and nature guides--and topographic maps. Sales totals were never large. Total revenues in 1981 were $270. Revenues rose to $285 in 1982 and to $353 in 1983. In 1984, only $119 in sales was recorded. Even that amount of sales, however, caused friction with local business owners, so at the request of the park's interpretive specialist, ANHA closed its Klondike branch. It did not reopen again until the spring of 1996, when an outlet opened in the visitor center. The branch sold books, maps, and the Chilkoot Trail hikers' guide. [83]

Because of the closure of the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad in October 1982, tour companies were eager to find tour destinations to replace the popular rail trips to Fraser and Bennett, B.C. In their search for an alternative tour destination, they found Dyea attractive, both for its scenic and historical resources. Beginning in 1983, therefore, Dyea began to attract a significant number of bus tours. Alaska Sightseeing Company patrons rode out Dyea Road to the Chilkoot Trail head, walked a few yards up the trail, and received a hiker's certificate for their efforts. They then rode to and ambled around the Slide Cemetery before heading south to the wharf pilings and the collapsed warehouse. Typically, the bus tours stopped here for a snack. NPS rangers often met the buses and gave a ten minute historical talk to the assembled patrons. Tours such as this remained popular through 1984. [84]

In 1985, the Dyea area hosted a new set of tour possibilities. Skagway business persons Duff and Carla Ray organized the Chilkoot Trail Float Tours, which offered float trips along the Taiya River from the West Creek confluence to the Dyea flats. That tour lasted for only one season. Alaska Sightseeing's new tour, however, proved more permanent. The company shifted its operations from the Dyea townsite to a makeshift tent camp adjacent to the McDermott cabin, where visitors were given the opportunity to pan for gold. Bus tours to the gold camp continued until the late summer of 1987. The following year, the restoration of train service truncated interest in the Dyea area, and organized tour groups did not return to the Dyea townsite until the mid-1990s. [85]

As the above paragraphs have suggested, rangers during this period pursued a variety of activities while stationed at Dyea. As a rule of thumb, rangers spent several days of their job rotation living at Sheep Camp and working along the Chilkoot Trail. Before or after their trail stint, they lived in Dyea and worked on a variety of assignments. Typical jobs included patrolling the park roads and the park boundary lines, answering inquiries, and responding to search and rescue, accident, or other emergency situations. [86]

Revising the Cooperative Agreement

In April 1978, the NPS and the state's Department of Natural Resources had signed a cooperative agreement that affected activities in Dyea, on the Chilkoot Trail, and in the White Pass Unit. That agreement should have been renewed in April 1981. The two parties, however, were unable to come to terms at that time, so they signed an interim agreement that terminated "at such time as a more comprehensive agreement is consummated or April 6, 1982, whichever comes first." That agreement was extended for another 45 days. Then, in May 1983, state and federal officials signed another extension that continued the agreement until the end of the year. [87]

It is not clear why the two parties could not agree on an updated cooperative agreement. The state, for its part, replaced its state park directors several times during this period, making progress difficult, and NPS management found it frustrating that conclusions reached in its meetings with state parks personnel were rebuffed by higher-ups in DNR. The NPS, for its part, was unhappy with having to manage the state's Chilkoot Trail Unit lands. It attempted, therefore, to exert whatever leverage it could in order to acquire fee simple ownership.

NPS officials made no secret of their desire to acquire the state's lands in the park, and in order to ease the process, they appealed to Congress for a new acquisition method. Section 1(b)(1) of the 1976 park authorization act had specified that the NPS could acquire state lands in the Chilkoot Trail Unit only by donation. But by December 1977, the Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus had suggested to Governor Jay Hammond that exchange become an additional transfer mechanism. The suggestion, which was apparently uncontroversial, was quickly forwarded to the Congressional delegation, and by 1979 an identical provision had been included in the committee bills of both the House and Senate versions of the Alaska Lands Act. The provision remained in the final bill passed by both houses, and it became Section 1309 in the Alaska Lands Act signed by President Jimmy Carter in December 1980. [88]

Given the new regulation, NPS officials requested the state to select other federal lands which would be acceptable for exchange purposes. DNR officials, however, were satisfied with the existing situation in the Chilkoot Trail Unit. They liked the idea of having another agency expend the funds to manage the state's lands; because of their ownership position, they liked being able to influence NPS policy regarding trail-related matters. But they had no interest in managing it again. As State Parks Director Neil Johannsen said, "The only way the state could come back in here would be at tremendous state expense. Years ago we managed the trail and we did not do as good a job as the NPS has done on the trail." [89] And they were equally reluctant to transfer their land to the NPS, so they dragged their feet in the selection of appropriate federal exchange lands. This conflicting state of affairs, as noted above, was partially responsible for the numerous delays and interim agreements that took place during the early 1980s.

In early 1983, as noted above, state and federal officials had signed an extension of the cooperative agreement that kept it in force until the end of the calendar year. By the time that agreement expired, officials were well on the way toward formulating a new, comprehensive agreement, and on February 3, 1984, Natural Resources Commissioner Esther Wunnicke signed a Memorandum of Understanding governing the management of state lands within the park. NPS Regional Director Roger Contor signed the MOU eleven days later. The memorandum, to a large extent, was a repeat of the 1978 cooperative agreement; like the earlier agreement, it pertained to state lands in Dyea, along the Chilkoot Trail, and in the White Pass Unit. The most substantive change, insisted upon by the NPS, was that park rangers would be commissioned as state Natural Resources Officers and would be given the authority to enforce federal park regulations (known as 36 CFR regulations) on state lands in the park. The MOU was scheduled to be effective for five years. [90]

The new MOU was presented to Skagway residents at a public meeting in the NPS visitor center on April 27. Chief Ranger Jay Cable led the meeting and laid out the differences between the 1978 and 1984 federal-state agreements. Under the new regulations included in Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the following rules would pertain to state land in Dyea within the park: no woodcutting, no hunting, and no camping outside of designated areas (either in Dyea or on the trail), no firearms on the trail, and no commercial trips on the trail without a permit. Cable also voiced objections to horse grazing and model-airplane activity on the flats. But remembering the fiasco related to the 1980 land acquisition plan, he did not attempt to mandate the removal of either activity. He was also careful to note that the agency, in its implementation of these regulations, would not be stepping on any private property. [91]

Several days before the meeting began, the park staff learned from several local residents that the MOU would not be well received. Perhaps for that reason, Sims was away from Skagway that day, leaving Cable to be the designated meeting leader. As expected, the crowd of 75 lashed out at the NPS because residents wanted to continue such activities as woodcutting, hunting, snowmachining, model airplane flying, motorbike riding, fishing, grazing and even golfing. As the local press noted, "Rarely have Skagway residents been so vocal and united in their opposition to something." Most of their rancor, however, was vented not at the Park Service but at Linda Krueger and Carol Wilson of the state Department of Natural Resources, who had negotiated the agreement without a public hearing. Both were present, and "were in for an earful" from those in attendance. They admitted their mistake, with Wilson telling the crowd that "it was unfortunate that we did not know your concern." Most of those who commented said, in effect, that they liked the NPS so long as its role was limited to the preservation of gold rush history and the attraction of tourists. They railed, however, at any attempt the agency made to impinge upon the lifestyle of local residents. [92]

Peter Goll, who represented Skagway in the Alaska House of Representatives, had been warned earlier, by several constituents, that the MOU had been signed without a public process. He therefore attended the April 27 meeting, and afterwards he attempted to work out a compromise. He first spoke to city officials about their concerns; he then spoke to a meeting of the Citizens Advisory Commission on Federal Areas, the body that had been created in 1981 in the wake of the Alaska Lands Act (see above). The commission forwarded its comments to state Department of Natural Resources personnel, who attended a May 4 meeting with Skagway officials. Goll also informed Governor William Sheffield, the Congressional delegation, and NPS officials in Washington about the problem. [93]

By mid-May, action on resolving the problems in the cooperative agreement had shifted to Anchorage, where meetings were held between personnel in the NPS's regional office and the state DNR. [94] By late June a compromise had been reached; that compromise was presented to Skagway residents at a lightly-attended July 6 public meeting, held at city hall.

Under the compromise, some land uses were allowed on state land while others were prohibited. Regarding the discharge of firearms along the Chilkoot Trail, officials proposed that such use be allowed only if more than one-quarter mile away from the trail corridor, and only between November 1 and April 1. It would, however, be legal to carry a gun along the Chilkoot on a year-round basis. Camping outside of designated campsites would be prohibited, but wood cutting and gathering would be allowed, as would the use of model airplanes, motorbikes, and snowmachines. [95] Despite a regulation which prohibited camping outside of the designated campsites, NPS officials tacitly allowed a Whitehorse-based model airplane group to make an annual camp on the Dyea flats. The group's presence was tolerated because it had been active since 1980 and because the group's impacts on area resources had been slight. But as noted below, the park's attempt to curb those activities a decade later would create a firestorm of protest, both from the affected participants and from Skagway residents.

At the public meeting, local residents had few quibbles with the newly-revised plan. Hunters Jay Frey and Jeff Graham, however, urged the negotiators to move the open season for hunting along the Chilkoot from November 1 to September 1 so that ducks, grouse, rabbits and other small game could be harvested during the fall season. They apparently also asked that the MOU omit the White Pass Unit; the area offered excellent hunting possibilities, but the NPS had thus far ignored the area. Two months later, the NPS and the state compromised on the measure; they agreed to omit the White Pass Unit and allowed hunting in the Chilkoot Trail unit to begin on October 1. Skip Harding, the Deputy Director of Alaska State Parks, announced a final agreement in mid-September. Esther Wunnicke signed the amended MOU on October 23; Roger Contor affixed his signature to the document on November 27. [96]

As has been seen, the NPS gained the titular right, as a result of the 1984 MOU process, to enforce NPS regulations in the Chilkoot Trail Unit of the park. But the discussion that preceded the revised MOU specified that many activities normally prohibited on NPS lands would be allowed. Both the February MOU and its November revision specified that the activities allowed on state-owned NPS lands would be determined in biannual joint meetings of state and federal officials. In reality, however, those meetings were never held. NPS officials, who were anxious to protect important resources but leery that local residents would overreact to any arbitrary prohibitions, instead implemented regulations on a piecemeal, low-key basis. Campers, for example, were allowed to camp on Dyea flats if they stayed away from the immediate vicinity of historic ruins, and motorcyclists were allowed to use the flats if they remained out of the historic townsite. Other recreational activities, such as airboats and snowmachines, were ignored and never emerged as a management problem. [97]

In 1983 and 1984, the NPS also moved to issue a land protection plan. The 1980 land acquisition plan, upon which it was being modelled, had been the source of tremendous controversy because it had attempted to control the extent of development and the level of improvements on privately-owned property in the Dyea homestead area. [98] For that reason, the plan was never completed and was not adopted.

The agency's previous experience, moreover, made it both wary and well-prepared as it got ready to issue a new plan. Superintendent Sims, given the task of writing it, held a public meeting on November 23, 1983 in which he told local residents what the plan would contain. He gave the public ample opportunity to comment and announced that additional meetings regarding the plan would be forthcoming. Then, in January 1984, he began to write it. [99]

On January 27, Sims held a second public hearing on the plan in the Arctic Brotherhood Hall. At the meeting, he noted that a keystone of the plan was the delineation of a priority list for land acquisition. But the agency, as before, would only purchase property on a willing seller, willing buyer basis. Furthermore, because of a lack of acquisition funds, the park had no plans for any further private land acquisition. [100] The plan, moreover, made no attempt to limit the activities of private property owners. The plan, therefore, was uncontroversial and was tacitly accepted by local residents. It was completed in July 1984.

The final plan noted that there were still sixteen tracts of privately owned land in the park, their total acreage being 56.27 acres. It noted that "Most of the privately owned properties are now being used in ways which do not interfere with the management of the National Historical Park, such as residential and low levels of agricultural use." The two highest-priority parcels were the State of Alaska's holdings in the Chilkoot Trail Unit and the White Pass Unit, respectively. The third priority properties were the various Mahle Native claims (see Chapter 9). The Dyea properties of John McDermott and Alf Kalvick were next on the priority list, followed by those of several other Dyea landowners. [101]

The Grazing Issue is Resolved

One of the most contentious issues with which the NPS has had to deal has been grazing, both on the Dyea flats and elsewhere in the Dyea area. During the 1960s and 1970s, an increasing number of livestock grazed in the Dyea area, and by the late 1970s approximately 30 horses, along with an occasional cow or mule, roamed the area each summer. Several local residents owned the stock, and no one was particularly concerned about their impacts on the area's natural and cultural resources until the NPS bought the old Pullen homestead in 1978 and began management efforts.

As noted above, NPS officials let it be known soon afterward that grazing was an unacceptable activity. When Superintendent Hoffman began to formulate a Dyea management plan, he told local residents that the flats were severely overgrazed. In order to "get a good stand of grass" again, he recommended that all animals in the valley be either staked or fenced on private land.

Livestock owners protested the proposed plan, and the plan was not implemented. Hoffman did, however, arrange for a U.S. Forest Service research biologist to evaluate the Dyea wetlands. The biologist noted that "I would classify the present horse use on the upper part of the Dyea wetlands as severe.... The end product of such a high level of grazing intensity is, of course, degradation and/or destruction of the marsh vegetation." [102]

During the winter of 1979-1980, reports arrived that horses at the Slide Cemetery had knocked over a picket fence and knocked down grave markers. Later that winter, the Dyea area was annexed into the City of Skagway. The city code prohibited animals from running at large within the city limits. City officials, however, winked at the ordinance as it pertained to Dyea. [103]

Superintendent Sims, who took over from Hoffman in September 1979, moved in early 1980 to curtail grazing within the park. He did so in response to pressure from Douglas Warnock, an official in the Alaska Area Office. [104] In March, Sims contacted the city police, local stock owners, and Alaska State Parks personnel. As a result of those contacts, he learned that because the NPS owned only a portion of the Dyea area, the agency could do little beside fencing the area--clearly an unacceptable option. The only other solution was to have the city enforce its grazing ordinance, an alternative that had little community support. Lacking other options, Sims ordered the erection of two small (5 foot square) fenced exclosures to monitor grazing impacts; one was located on the west side of the flats, the other on the east side. He also asked each stock owner to fill out a special use permit. That action, however, was less than successful. Some refused to complete the permits, and others did not comply with the conditions of the permit. Neither the city nor state, moreover, supported the NPS, and the permit system was criticized because it may have put the agency in violation of state law and the city ordinance. [105]

The following spring, NPS officials attempted to improve upon the permit system. When city officials met with Doug Warnock in March, they requested that grazing be allowed to continue under a permit system, perhaps with a reduced number of animals for the 1981 summer season. Two months later, the NPS requested that the Skagway City Council introduce a loose animals ordinance that would have solved the problem. In June, however, both the permit system and the ordinance were shot down at a public hearing. Most residents at the meeting complained that grazing land and livestock feed in the Skagway area were too scarce to halt open grazing. NPS officials, in response, opted to not offer grazing permits that summer. Agency activity was limited to having seasonal rangers make a daily record of livestock and wildlife observations. [106]

The NPS, thereafter, played a minimal role in attempting to regulate grazing activity. In a draft resource management plan written in 1982, the agency opted to continue present management activity, because "Without the support of other land owners in the area we do not have any other realistic options." [107]

In early 1984, the grazing issue flared up again, shortly after the finalization of a federal-state memorandum of understanding. A key provision in the new agreement was the NPS's ability to be able to enforce its regulations on state lands. When NPS Chief Ranger Jay Cable told local residents about the new MOU in an April public meeting, he remarked that grazing had to be cut back or stopped, but just how and when that would occur had yet to be decided. "The animals definitely are in trespass," he noted. "My advice to grazers is to look elsewhere." [108]

The outcry Cable received at the public meeting, as noted above, put the whole MOU issue in doubt for awhile, and regarding the grazing issue, the NPS found that it had no more allies than it had in 1980 and 1981. State Natural Resources staff noted that state law supported open grazing and that it required the property owner to fence out unwanted animals. [109]

After that point, the NPS once again dropped the issue. But soon after, others joined the fray. During the past several years, Dyea residents had become increasingly agitated by the presence of free-ranging horses because they broke down fences and wrecked gardens. In some cases, the animals caused several thousand dollars' worth of property damage. Dyea resident Nancy Berland, whose garden was severely impacted, reacted by filing suit against the city. She lost an initial magistrate's decision, but she appealed the verdict. In a later ruling by the Haines magistrate, she won the right to prohibit open grazing in Dyea. [110]

The council, meanwhile, had two lively hearings on the matter in September and October 1984. Horse owners and their supporters generated 39 letters in support of open grazing, while those who hoped to control grazing wrote a "briefcase full" of letters to bolster their cause. The recent legal case, however, tipped the scales of justice against the grazing interests. After considering several options, the council on October 11 passed an ordinance stating that any owner of an animal found loose within the city limits would be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine. That code revision went into effect on January 1, 1985. Local residents, begrudgingly at first, complied with the new ordinance.

Since that time, open grazing has been prohibited in the Dyea area. The grasses along the Taiya River and elsewhere in the Dyea area have rebounded to healthy levels. The exclosure on the east side of Dyea flats was removed by park personnel in the early 1990s, but the exclosure on the west side is still standing. [111]

The Dyea Development Concept Plan

In order to fulfill the objectives outlined in the park's 1973 master plan, and to solve land use issues not covered in the plan, NPS officials recognized the necessity for writing a plan for managing the Dyea area. As noted above, the 1978 cooperative agreement anticipated the preparation of "recreational or historical management plans" for Dyea, and in response, Superintendent Hoffman attempted to write such a plan in 1978 and 1979. He held public meetings with local residents, obtained input from Alaska Area Office planners, and announced a draft management plan. That plan, however, was neither finalized nor implemented. The brouhaha that followed the issuance of the Land Acquisition Plan in April 1980, moreover, put such a negative cast on planning issues that the National Park Service made no attempt for the next several years to issue a planning document regarding the management, protection, or interpretation of park resources in the Dyea area.

The need for a plan, however, remained. The 1982 draft Resource Management Plan noted that "the most critical [park] resource management issue is the lack of a Cooperative Management Plan for the Chilkoot Trail unit." Regional Historian Bill Brown, in 1983, reiterated the need for a planning effort centered on Dyea management issues. [112]

In early 1984, the creation of a plan got underway when Robert Spude, Brown's successor, suggested to Chief Ranger Jay Cable that the Chilkoot Trail Unit needed a philosophy guiding its management. He envisioned that specific aspects of the plan would be interpretive plans for Dyea and the trail, as well as a Historic Structures Report for the Unit. The beginnings of an interpretive plan had been underway since 1981, when wayside exhibits for Dyea as well as the Chilkoot Trail had been proposed as part of the park's Interpretive Prospectus. To complement that data, Spude proposed the compilation of additional cultural resource data. To that end, he had already orchestrated the compilation of additional research about the historic Dyea townsite. [113] (See the following section.)

Spude's suggestions began to bear fruit that summer. By late June, Chief Ranger Cable was noting that "a management plan for Dyea may be assembled in the not-too-distant future." Shortly afterwards, Superintendent Sims formally requested the assistance of Spude and planning chief Linda Nebel in the compilation of a Development Concept Plan for Dyea. [114]

Given the go-ahead to proceed, Spude and Nebel began working on the plan. Work that year focused on a Dyea-area trail and walking tour. Plans called for a Dyea orientation panel to be located at the entrance to Dyea Campground, and the interpretive trailhead and parking area would be located adjacent to the old Pullen Barn. From there, the proposed trail would connect four other sites in the historic townsite. Dyea's Native village and old Trail Street would be discussed at the Matthews Cabin; the Palm Sunday avalanche would be described at the Slide Cemetery; Dyea's boom-town days would be interpreted at the "false front" (part of a rush-era real estate office), and waterfront activity would be explained at the collapsed Vining and Wilkes warehouse. The trail was to be completed by the summer of 1986. [115]

Preparation of the plan was delayed thereafter because regional office planners were overwhelmed by business related to the preparation of park general management plans. (Draft GMPs for nine of Alaska's fifteen park units were completed in 1985; final plans for those parks were completed the following year.) By April 1985, however, Nebel had assigned planner Suzy Stutzman to the Dyea project. Stutzman completed a task directive, and in late August she visited Dyea. While there, she conferred with seasonal archeologist Karl Gurcke who was investigating and mapping Dyea that summer. She lauded that effort, and in her trip report recommended that any public involvement related to an interpretive trail wait until the completion and analysis of Gurcke's field work. [116]

Stutzman intended to follow her work with the creation of a series of plan alternatives, followed by public meetings in early 1986. The completion of a draft and final Development Concept Plan would have followed. That scenario was still in the works as late as December 1985. That month, however, Stutzman left her position, and given the press of duties related to GMP preparation, the Dyea DCP was tabled. [117]

Clay Alderson, who became superintendent in September 1986, was initially content with the existing state of affairs, noting that "people should not expect much more development in the future" in the Dyea area. A year later, however, the DCP idea was revived. The agency now sensed that the restoration of Dyea's historic buildings, the improvement of Dyea's campground, and planning for the area surrounding the Chilkoot Trail head had become sufficiently important issues that a team, headed by regional planner Sandy Rabinowitch, was assigned to write a DCP that would guide Dyea-area development. Field work related to that effort was scheduled for the summer of 1988, but it was derailed because planning department personnel were overwhelmed by work related to a series of park wilderness-designation studies. [118] After that time, the DCP idea remained tabled until revived during the early 1990s as part of the park's General Management Planning process (see below).

Historical and Archeological Research, 1984-1988

As noted above, the first attempts to gather cultural resource information about the Dyea area took place during the late 1970s. Contract historian Robert Spude travelled to libraries both inside and outside of Alaska and compiled an impressive amount of data about Dyea and the Chilkoot Trail. Archeologist Craig Davis led a crew that exhumed several graves in the old Dyea Cemetery. During the summer of 1979, Caroline Carley headed a team of archeologists that surveyed both Dyea and the trail. That same year, Spude began to compile a volume on the trail's history and its extant resources. The only additional cultural resource data gained about the Dyea area resulted from the two surveys performed in 1981 and 1983 as part of the proposed West Creek hydroelectric dam. There was also a small amount of artifact inventorying, marking, and monitoring in 1983 performed by Colleen Sinnott and Cathy Shank. Their work in Dyea that year was a minor part of a two-year project that primarily dealt with Chilkoot Trail sites (see Chapter 9).

In 1983, Spude became regional historian, and perhaps because of his longtime affiliation with the park, he prepared to gather additional historical data. He learned that Skagway resident Frank Norris, a former seasonal interpreter, was interested in Dyea's history, and in March 1984 he contracted with him to compile a business directory of the gold-rush town and to assemble a map of how Dyea's street pattern must have appeared to the Klondike stampeders. (Dyea's street pattern had been laid out in October 1897, but the town's plat map had been lost and no other maps were known to exist.) Norris completed his work a month later. [119]

Less than a month after Norris completed his project, University of Idaho archeologist Karl Gurcke arrived in Skagway to begin a survey of the old townsite. Gurcke, assisted briefly by Linda Medlock and regional office archeologist Harvey Shields, mapped a portion of the downtown commercial section and dug ten one-meter-square test pits. In addition, he dug seven randomly-placed augur holes that summer. Altogether, Gurcke's investigations resulted in the recovery of approximately 4,000 artifacts, primarily fragments of bricks, ceramics, glass, and tin cans. Research ecologist Gary Ahlstrand provided additional assistance that summer by visiting Dyea and coring 36 of the largest-diameter trees in the historic townsite. Ahlstrand's research revealed that just two trees, both located in the Native cemetery, predated the gold rush; four others, in scattered locations, dated from 1899 to 1904. Most of his remaining sample dated from the 1905-1914 period. [120]

Regional officials, evidently pleased by Gurcke's efforts, hired him back for the 1985 season. Given a longer field season, he and assistants Nicole von Gaza and Linda Haws were able to extend the existing mapping grid 1,100 meters to the north, and they also excavated an additional ten test pits. As a result of their efforts, they inventoried and collected 1,600 artifacts, plus another 1,440 pieces of charcoal. After the completion of the season's work, Superintendent Sims announced his pleasure with the team's accomplishments, noting to a local reporter that they had "uncovered large amounts of things you and I probably don't get excited about, a bunch of broken glass and broken bricks, but to them it is significant." [121]

By the time Gurcke had begun his second season of work, regional cultural resource officials were familiar with the proposed Dyea Development Concept Plan. They furthermore recognized that the ongoing archeological work was a necessary aspect of that DCP. In order to expand both the scope and diversity of the cultural resources portion of the DCP, officials proposed the preparation of a Historic Structures Report for both Dyea and the Chilkoot Trail. The archeological portion of the report was already underway; the Dyea portion of the report was to be completed first, followed by additional work ascending the Chilkoot Trail corridor. In addition, historical research would be needed to document structures and other resources in the Chilkoot Trail Unit, and high-quality architectural drawings would be needed to record features at a selected number of sites. [122]

In order to complete the proposed report, Robert Spude rehired seasonal interpreter Frank Norris during the spring of 1985 and asked him to complete historical site reports on 16 area sites. All but five of those sites were located in Dyea. Joining him that year was seasonal architect Carol Taylor, who produced a series of maps, diagrams, and technical drawings. Some of the drawings depicted Dyea and trailside structures, while others related to Chilkoot Trail tramway features. The work of the two individuals was forwarded to the regional office, who produced a final product in early December. [123]

During 1986, work continued on the Historic Structures Report. In January, Spude hired Norris for a third time and asked him to write historic site reports on additional sites within the trail corridor. By May he had completed an additional 16 site reports; sites were as large as Canyon City or as small as the grave marker above Sheep Camp. In addition, he had compiled gold rush-era maps and business directories for Canyon City, Sheep Camp, and the Scales. That summer, Gurcke arrived for a third season's work. While his primary effort that year was a survey of the Chilkoot between Dyea and Finnegan's Point, he also did some survey work at the north end of the Dyea townsite. Gurcke that year was assisted by seasonal archeologist Scott Zimmerman and seasonal historian Frank Norris.

Further work on the HSR took place in 1987. Norris was called on to compile seven brief reports for structures in Dyea, Canyon City, and Sheep Camp. Gurcke, hired as the park's permanent Cultural Resource Specialist that March, supervised two seasonal archeologists (Scott Zimmerman and Noreen Fritz) who spent the summer doing further mapping and surface collecting in Dyea. Zimmerman and Fritz's work was continued in 1988, for a brief period, by archeologists Bill Jurgelski and Heidi Hill, who surveyed, mapped, and recorded additional features at the north end of the Dyea townsite. Carol Taylor, the seasonal architect hired in 1985, was posted in Anchorage in the fall of 1987. During her tenure there, she compiled selected archeological reports, historical site reports, and architectural drawings and completed a draft HSR. [124]

A major reason for the preparation of the Historic Structures Report was the preservation of the remaining gold-rush structures along the trail, and to effectuate that preservation, NPS officials decided to adopt the crystallization technique. This idea, which was developed by Buck R. Nelson in a 1977 article and first championed in Alaska by Chief Ranger Jay Cable in 1982, involved the stabilization of historic structures and ruins by minimal support, clearing of vegetation, fencing, and the application of a chemical preservative. Cable recognized that the park's master plan and environmental statement, written in 1973-1974, had called for the trail structures to be stabilized, and he looked favorably on the crystallization idea because it had proven successful in such western ghost towns as Bodie, California and Bannock, Montana. Given the fact that there were more than 40 deteriorating structures along the trail, Cable noted that "unless positive steps are taken to slow down this deterioration, all that will remain in a few years will be a collection of scattered building materials." He therefore suggested that the technique be adopted at the Dyea False Front, the Slide Cemetery, and three other structures along the Chilkoot Trail corridor. [125]

Regional Historian Robert Spude adopted a similar viewpoint to Nelson and Cable. He presented his philosophy of minimal intervention at a conference in October 1984. Noting that "restoration work will attempt to retain the natural aged appearance of structures, not an incongruous new looking reconstruction," he felt that the best way to preserve the remaining trail structures would be to "replace select wood and metal members as needed, with matching parts." In later remarks, he added that "time and nature do not permit 'as is' preservation" and that "benign neglect has been just as effective as a bulldozer in demolishing [the gold rush] structures." He therefore suggested that the agency's goal should be to "preserve the condition of the ruin to the time of the establishment of the park; as boards crumble, they are to be replaced with lumber or wood that will fade and weather like the original, thus preserving the visual integrity, the historical feel of the landmark." [126]

Spude received support for his philosophy from Chief Historian Ed Bearss in Washington. But other key players, including Regional Historical Architect Dave Snow and park maintenance chief John Warder, rejected the idea as being unworkable. [127]

Spude continued to espouse crystallization until he left Alaska in December 1987. But his successor, Kate Lidfors, did not share his enthusiasm. In a 1988 memo, she noted that the concept was

difficult to apply to structures which are deteriorated beyond the point where stabilization and historic preservation maintenance are practical. We do not have the technology to, in effect, imbed mouldering log ruins in amber.... I am concerned that the conceptual appeal of this approach leads to impracticable and philosophically unsound treatments. [128]

Given Spude's departure, the lack of support for crystallization from other key officials, and widespread criticism of Carol Taylor's portion of the draft HSR, both the crystallization concept and the historic structures report were quietly tabled. Since that time, archeological work along the trail has continued (see Chapter 9), but neither park nor regional personnel have made any attempt to either compile a new preservation plan or complete the HSR. Trail maintenance crews, as a result, have made only a minimal attempt to preserve the trailside structures, and they continued to deteriorate. In 1994, the structures received renewed attention when personnel from the agency's Harpers Ferry Center hiked the trail and recommended preservation measures. That report offered a number of sound recommendations, but it never got beyond the draft stage. [129]

A beneficial byproduct of the research that went into the Historic Structures Report was an updated, expanded National Historic Landmark nomination for the Chilkoot Trail Unit. As noted above, separate National Register forms for Dyea Site and the Chilkoot Trail had been completed in 1975 and 1976, respectively; those forms had been combined, and in June 1978 the Secretary of the Interior had designated the Chilkoot Trail and Dyea National Historic Landmark. Those forms, however, gave only brief, vague descriptions of the resources contained within them, and as a consequence, the landmark boundaries did not precisely conform to the location of the major resources. [130]

In order to overcome those incongruities, the NPS hired Frank Norris during the summer of 1987 to complete a revised NHL nomination. Norris completed a draft nomination, which suggested a narrowly-defined boundary, on August 1, 1987. The nomination was reviewed by the park's Washington office and approved in the spring of 1988. The revised NHL nomination was then given a public comment period, where it was delayed because of objections from Skip Elliott, Skagway's mayor and a longtime Dyea landowner. Elliott's property had been included within the original (1978) NHL boundaries, and the NHL revision process (despite Elliott's objections) did not affect the status of his property as it pertained to the NHL boundary. Even so, his objection put the nomination on hold for the next several years. Then, in 1991, the public was given a second opportunity to comment. This time, no protests were filed. The nomination was approved by the State Historic Preservation Officer in November 1991 and by the state's Historic Sites Advisory Board in February 1992. Rep. Don Young, working with the NPS, revised the NHL's boundaries; the newly-designed NHL, however, still protected all of the historically-significant areas that Norris had identified in 1987. On November 4, 1992, the revised boundary nomination was formally established by Jerry Rogers, the NPS's Associate Director for Cultural Resources. [131]

Lands Issues and Campground Activities, 1988-1992

Scattered management actions characterized the Dyea area during the late 1980s, and most of those that occurred took place either along West Creek or in the park's Dyea Campground. Along West Creek, a considerable amount of private-sector planning had taken place during the early 1980s toward the construction of a hydroelectric facility, and during the late 1980s officials tried to revive the proposed federal-state land swap that would have facilitated the dam's construction. Other activities revolved around the rehabilitation of the West Creek bridge, law enforcement problems in Dyea Campground, and new visitor and staff facilities at the campground.

As noted above, a federal-state land swap had been proposed in the spring of 1982 that would have removed 22 acres from the park, at the northwest corner of the homestead area, so that power authorities would be able to have a site for a powerhouse as part of the proposed West Creek hydroelectric project. That September, the land trade had been promoted by Interior Secretary James Watt. A month later, the closure of the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad had dampened all enthusiasm for the trade. Despite the closure, some federal and state officials recognized that the economics of power generation would someday improve. As a result, talks to revive the trade resurfaced in 1986. At that time, the West Creek project was still on hold and in the planning stages; it was a back-up energy source for southeastern Alaska.

Skagway citizens were informed in August 1987 about the deal, proposed by the state's Division of Land and Water Management in the Department of Natural Resources, that would have deeded the 22-acre powerhouse site to the state in exchange for a 40-acre parcel surrounding Canyon City and an 80-acre parcel surrounding Sheep Camp. (The NPS was interested in obtaining the two parcels because the 1984 Land Protection Plan had identified the Chilkoot Trail corridor as the highest acquisition priority; Canyon City and Sheep Camp were the two largest ghost towns on the U.S. side of the trail.) The trade at that time was "in the process of being completed." Larry Bullis of DNR announced that only public opposition, of which there had been none thus far, could prevent the trade from taking place. [132]

The NPS, at first, went along with the proposal. But before they could agree to it the various parcels were independently appraised. The appraisals revealed that the powerhouse site was valued at approximately $11,000, while the cumulative worth of the trailside parcels exceeded $60,000. The NPS had no funds to pay the difference and the state was unwilling to pursue an unbalanced trade, so the trade was put on hold for the time being. [133]

In 1989, another plan arose that held the potential for the NPS to acquire parcels in the Chilkoot Trail Unit. The City of Skagway, as noted above, had attempted to acquire state lands in the Dyea area--both inside and outside of the park--in August 1980 as its Municipal Entitlement Program allotment. That attempt had failed because of state opposition. In the fall of 1989, the city made a second attempt to acquire state lands. That selection included more than 1,000 acres within the park and included land on Dyea flats, at Canyon City and at Sheep Camp. The action was encouraged by NPS Superintendent Clay Alderson. The superintendent, in an attempt to help the city choose applicable parcels, broached the idea that the NPS would pay the costs of surveying and clearing title to land within the park if the city would sell that land, at fair market value, to the Park Service. Given those funds, the city would be able to survey other lands outside of the park boundaries. The city was favorable to Alderson's proposal but the state, engulfed by the Mental Health Trust controversy, placed the selections on hold. The proposed land transfers did not take place, at least for the time being. [134]

Another activity that took place in 1989 was the renewal of the federal-state Memorandum of Understanding regarding the management of the state's Dyea and Chilkoot Trail lands. Since November 1984, when the last MOU had been signed, relations between the Alaska DNR and the NPS had been relatively peaceful, and as renewal time approached, state officials expressed no particular desire to modify the 1984 memorandum. NPS officials, however, let it be known that they were uncomfortable managing thousands of acres that they did not own. The agency, they noted, had already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars maintaining and patrolling the trail, constructing permanent improvements, and identifying cultural resources. As a result, the agency could not continue indefinitely to spend money on state lands without some assurance that the lands would be transferred to federal ownership in the very near future. Given that caveat, the state and NPS came to terms on a 15-year Memorandum of Understanding. Acting DNR Commissioner Ron Swope signed the MOU on December 20, 1989, and NPS Regional Director Boyd Evison finalized the agreement on January 16, 1990. [135]

In response to the NPS's pressure, the state began looking at other federal lands in Alaska that could be used in negotiating an exchange for its Dyea and Chilkoot Trail parcels. Superintendent Alderson met several times in 1990 with Neil Johannsen, director of the Alaska Division of Parks. Following those meetings, the state determined that the only federal lands that they wanted to acquire were NPS lands. The NPS refused to release any parcels that were already included within park boundaries. [136] Alderson, however, would not accept that standoff. He set up a meeting with Ron Swanson, director of the state's Division of Land Management, and with Johannsen to discuss the issue. After that meeting, Swanson and Johannsen offered to sell the state's land in the park to the federal government. They did so because the state was trying to raise money to purchase land in Kachemak Bay State Park, near Homer. NPS officials were pleased by the offer, but due to restrictions in the 1976 act that authorized the park, the agency was unable to purchase state lands. The state, therefore, offered to support the NPS's request for funding and for authority to purchase the state land in a request to Congress through the office of Senator Stevens. Congress, however, showed little interest in modifying the park act to allow the land purchase. As a result the purchase option was not pursued. [137]

Another issue pertaining to West Creek, in addition to the proposed land swap, developed in 1988 when state inspectors closed the West Creek bridge, declaring it unsafe. The bridge had been built in 1964 to transport H&M (Hosford and Mahle) Logging Company timber from state lands on the north side of West Creek into Skagway. (An earlier bridge, just downstream, had been built by the Hanousek family in the late 1940s but had been torn down shortly after the newer bridge was completed.) Users of the bridge had included Ed and Wanda Hanousek, who owned a homestead just northwest of the bridge; Chilkoot Trail users, who during the 1960s and early 1970s used the bridge prior to crossing the Taiya River by tram cable (see Chapter 3); National Park Service rangers and maintenance crews, who avoided "Saintly Hill" by paddling across the river from a landing north of the bridge; and recreational users in West Creek valley. The state, and later the Hanousek family, had maintained the bridge over the years, but in mid-June 1988 bridge inspectors deemed it so spindly that they barred all traffic from crossing it. [138]

City officials, local residents, and other bridge users met soon after the shutdown to make rehabilitation plans. No one was sure, at first, who owned the bridge. The state's Department of Natural Resources, it turned out, owned the structure; because of a lack of funds, however, bridge rehabilitation would be a shared responsibility. In August 1988, Mayor Skip Elliott met with Hanousek and state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities officials about the bridge, and after that meeting, the state agreed to partially fund the rebuilding project. (Local residents, working for a minimum wage, supplied the labor.) By February 1990, the state had provided those funds, and construction of a new bridge began a year later. In February 1992 the bridge was completed and reopened to traffic. [139]

Another issue that arose during the late 1980s was law enforcement. As noted above, seasonal NPS rangers had been working on the trail since 1973, and since 1979 they had been stationed in Dyea. They were not, however, given law enforcement authority (only the chief ranger had that authority), primarily because the NPS was wary about stirring up local resentment against the agency. Rangers were further encumbered because many of Skagway's police officers did not patrol in the Dyea area. (Prior to 1980, the area had been outside of the Skagway city limits, and only the Alaska State Trooper, based in Haines, had jurisdiction there. After 1980 Skagway police were authorized to enforce the law there; as a practical matter, however, police rarely visited the area.) The lack of law enforcement in Dyea or on the trail was an obvious gap; the problem, however, was minimal, because few situations arose in which police protection was necessary. [140]

That situation changed during the weekend of May 21-23, 1988. Hundreds of Canadians celebrated the Victoria Day weekend by coming to the Skagway area, as they had each year since the Klondike Highway had opened. During previous years, the weekend had been pleasantly uneventful; hotels and campgrounds (including NPS's Dyea Campground) had been full, and cash registers at the town's bars, liquor stores, and other establishments were busy for the first time in months. The only trouble that had arisen out of the annual festivities had been scattered incidences of drunkenness and littering. But in 1988, the celebrations took an ominous turn. More than 300 youths camped in and around Dyea campground, and for three days both Dyea and Skagway endured scenes of drunkenness, fighting, noise, property damage, and vandalism. [141] Park Service officials and Skagway police officers were clearly overwhelmed by the lawlessness; they coped with the rowdy throng by frequent patrols, by ordering some of the miscreants out of the country, and by calling in the Alaska State Troopers for prisoner transport. In order to prevent a repetition of the weekend's activities, NPS officials had a series of meetings soon afterward with other local law enforcement officials. In concert with their counterparts from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, these meetings continued, on an annual basis, for years afterward. [142] As a result, the events of the 1988 Victoria Day weekend have not been repeated.

As a consequence of the Victoria Day weekend activities, the NPS's cooperative relationship with the Skagway police, and its greater standing in the community, the agency has exercised some law enforcement capabilities during the 1990s. Relatively few arrests have been made, all by permanently stationed rangers. Violations which have resulted in citations have included the illegal taking of a bear, illegal parking, and tree cutting on NPS land; in addition, as noted in Chapter 9, the leaders of both a Swiss and a German hiking group have been cited for failing to obtain an NPS Commercial Use License. During most or all of these cases, the defendants have entered guilty or "no contest" pleas and fines have been imposed. [143] At the present time, permanent rangers are required to have law enforcement commissions. Seasonal rangers work under no such requirement. In 1991, however, the park hired its first commissioned seasonal ranger, Dave Stannich. Since that time at least one seasonal ranger has had a law enforcement commission, and since 1994 two or more have been commissioned. [144]

Another problem in Dyea Campground, unrelated to law enforcement, was the poor condition of the buildings in the ranger-station complex. The buildings, as noted above, had originally been built as wall tents in 1979 and had gradually been improved over the years. They were, however, substandard, and by the mid-1980s had begun to deteriorate. In response to the problem, park maintenance crews in 1988 began a four-year effort to refurbish the Dyea ranger station complex. During the first year, they installed a new water system: a well, storage tank, water heater, plumbing and fixtures. The following year, they improved the quarters and moved the pit toilets. In 1990, further improvements to the quarters and the water system took place, and crews remodelled the ranger station; a year later, a new shower building was constructed. [145]

The 1991 Land Protection Plan

As noted above, Superintendent Richard Sims had written a Land Protection Plan for the park in July 1984. In accordance with agency procedures, Superintendent Alderson in 1989 set out to update the plan. He wrote a draft that year, and by early 1990 it had been reviewed by regional and Washington authorities. The park was then informed that an environmental assessment to accompany the plan was required. That document was completed in September, and on December 8, both plans were released to the public for a 60-day comment period. [146]

On January 8, 1991, a public meeting was held in Skagway on the plan. The lightly-attended meeting was generally harmonious. At least one Dyea resident, however, objected to language that prohibited the "construction of new or greatly expanded buildings or facilities." Similar language had provoked considerable controversy when the draft land acquisition plan had been released in 1980. Alderson assured the meeting participants that the phrase was meant only to prohibit alterations "like a strip mine" that would be totally unacceptable to the appearance of the park. Adding to a house or other minor land use modifications, he assured the assembled participants, would be a fully acceptable activity. Alderson, at the meeting, reiterated that the park's primary land-acquisition priority was the state's acreage in the Chilkoot Trail corridor, and both he and Gary Gustafson, director of the state's Division of Land and Water Management, told participants of their plans for a land exchange. The meeting resulted in several revisions to the draft land protection plan, and on March 3 the final plan was completed and forwarded to the regional office. Regional Director Boyd Evison signed it on April 3, 1991. [147]

During this period, the NPS acquired its first new land parcel since 1980. In 1985, Dyea resident Alf Kalvick told the NPS that he would be interested in selling his improved two-acre parcel, located on the east side of Dyea road near the old Kinney Bridge site. Superintendent Richard Sims showed an immediate interest, inasmuch as the land protection plan had identified his property as one of the highest-priority privately-owned parcels in the Dyea area. [148] No money was available to purchase the property, however, until 1990, and during that period (the fall of 1988) Kalvick died.

The NPS, anticipating its acquisition, decided in March 1990 to lease the parcel from Edna Kalvick (Alf's widow) for employee housing, and an NPS employee occupied the house later that month. The property was appraised in March 1991 for $82,500, and it was hoped that the acquisition would be completed early that summer. In April the NPS sent an Agreement to Sell to Mrs. Kalvick. The owner, however, did not respond, so Superintendent Alderson met with her and learned that she would not sell for the appraised value. The NPS, in response, initially announced that it would abandon its efforts to purchase the building and would also terminate its lease. In February 1992, however, the NPS reconsidered its refusal and stated that it would be willing to pay $90,000 for the property. Ms. Kalvick was amenable to the higher price; that value, however, had to be approved by both the Interior Department and by Congress. The revised offer was submitted to Congress in June, and in late September Congress approved it. The purchase was finalized on December 10. [149]

The agency also moved to clear up disputes over the occupancy of a parcel that it already owned. Back in June 1978, the NPS had paid Mark Noyd and Mary Joseph $646,000 for a fee-simple interest on the 336-acre parcel in the Dyea townsite area that included the old Pullen and Matthews homestead lands (see Chapter 5).

As part of that purchase, the sellers claimed that there were no encumbrances on the property. After the purchase was finalized, however, NPS personnel learned that several local residents were continuing to occupy or claim portions of the parcel. Those residents included Larry and Kristin Jacquot, claimants to the Gary Gordon cabin; Dave Hunz, claimant to the "Dyea Country Club" cabin; Art Nelson, claimant to a cabin later occupied by Al Huntley and Scott Home; and Emil Hanousek, claimant to the Lee Gault cabin (actually a Quonset hut) that was later occupied by Martin Kisel and Denise Caposey. Hanousek's Quonset hut was located along the main road to the Dyea flats, midway between the Slide Cemetery and the old Pullen Barn, while the other three structures were located in the northwestern corner of the parcel, north of the Slide Cemetery. [150]

The NPS, hoping to resolve the issue, contacted the former owners in early 1986. Noyd and Joseph, who lived in Atlanta, admitted that they did not know about the occupants' claims; because of that ignorance, they had failed to tell the government about them before consummating the sale. The former owners' attorney, working in conjunction with their government counterparts, contacted each claimant. Art Nelson, who had left Alaska in 1974, disclaimed any interest in his property. Emil Hanousek was living in a nursing home and was unable to defend his claim, so Goldie Hukill, acting on Hanousek's behalf, relinquished all claims to the parcel. Dave Hunz and the Jacquots were found to have had a more well-founded claim. Noyd and Joseph, therefore, agreed to pay the two parties $9,000 and $9,500, respectively. [151]

Kisel and Caposey, occupants of the Hanousek cabin, were told that they were trespassing and were ordered to vacate their residences as quickly as possible. They moved out during the summer of 1986. Scott Home, who lived in the Nelson cabin, was given a similar order in early 1987. In order to avoid demolition, Home had his cabin dragged north to one of the privately-owned homesteads. On May 1, 1988, the Skagway Fire Department burned the Hanousek's Quonset hut.

Hunz and the Jacquots, given their more favorable legal position, were given permits in January 1987 that allowed them five more years for the recreational use of their cabins. Those permits expired in January 1992. A year later, the NPS razed the Hunz cabin, and in 1994 the Jacquot cabin met the same fate. [152]

General Management Plan Issues Pertaining to Dyea

As noted in Chapter 5, the park began the long process to write a General Management Plan in 1990. In May 1991, the agency held several public scoping sessions on the plan. After sifting through the received comments, it returned for another series of public meetings in June 1992. Relatively few of the comments made at those meetings, or in the written comments pertaining to the plan, related to Dyea. Those that were made called for an increase in area interpretation and an easing of access to the Dyea beach area. Both concerns were valid; interpretation in the area had been ignored ever since the abandonment of the Dyea Development Concept Plan in 1985, and access to Dyea's beach had long been difficult because of high standing water levels on the West Branch of the Taiya River, near the old Pullen Barn. [153]

Agency planners digested these and other public comments, and by July 1993 they had prepared a series of three preliminary management alternatives. City officials, in response to a request from Acting Superintendent Janet McCabe, held a July 21 hearing on the proposed alternatives. Based on two hours of public comment that day, the Skagway City Council tentatively adopted a "no change" resolution, which asked the NPS to keep additional facilities investments to a minimum. The city, at McCabe's behest, was able to soften the council's position, and the resolution that finally passed asked the NPS to take "a conservative approach" to development. [154]

Despite the tone of that resolution, the council was willing to work with the NPS on the Dyea beach access problem. The two entities learned that the Forest Service had recently begun offering grants to overcome access problems through its "wooden bridge" program. The action was deemed necessary because the Alaska Department of Fish and Game ruled that the existing beach access road, which crossed through the West Branch of the Taiya River, disturbed an anadromous fish habitat. The city, moreover, backed the plan because a council member hoped to use such a bridge as part of a West Creek logging operation, and because the occupant of the so-called Moran Cabin needed a bridge to safely reach his property. At the urging of Acting Superintendent Janet McCabe, therefore, the city and the NPS applied for a grant that would have paid for about 40 percent of a proposed $86,000 bridge to Dyea flats. The Forest Service would fund the remainder of the construction costs. Later that year, the council also considered constructing a bridge by either using old railroad flat cars or by installing a culvert in the streambed and covering it with gravel. Neither solution was enacted. [155]

The following year the NPS and the city submitted a second application, and for awhile, prospects appeared bright that the Forest Service would fund the project. [156] Before a decision was made, however, an event took place in Dyea that temporarily tabled the beach access problem.

On Tuesday, May 24, 1994, Dennis Walker of the Whitehorse-based Yukon Radio Control Modelers Club (YRCMC) stopped at the NPS office in order to obtain a group camping permit. [157] The club had been holding an annual fly-in each spring since 1980, and in previous years, the agency had been consistently cooperative in providing the group a camping permit. But in 1993 (according to the NPS), Chief Ranger Bruce Reed had informed the group's representative that the YRCMC would not be able to return for a group campout on the Dyea flats in 1994 because of the environmental impacts caused by such an activity. (The club, Reed said, was welcome to fly their planes on the flats, but camping would be limited to either Dyea Campground or the Nelson Slough area.) The YRCMC representative, however, either did not understand Reed's 1993 warning or failed to remember it, because he expected to be granted another permit in 1994. Walker, angry about the denial, told local residents about the Park Service's decision; he then wrote letters to the Skagway News, Governor Walter Hickel, and various state legislators. He also changed the venue for the year's fly-in from the Dyea flats to Atlin, British Columbia.

The NPS's denial of the camping permit was widely protested by Skagway residents. As has been noted earlier in the chapter, the agency's purported control of the Dyea flats--one of the few flat, open areas in the vicinity--had long been a sore point with local residents, and they saw the agency's action as one more attempt to close the area to their legitimate, nonconsumptive use of the area. As a result, local residents sympathized with the Canadians' cause. Keith Knorr, a Skagway member of the club, suggested that Reed's action was illegal because the NPS, during the late 1970s, had guaranteed the continuation of recreational activities on the flats. [158] Mayor Stan Selmer felt that the NPS had communicated poorly to the club, and noted that the agency "needed to be more realistic with (the) special use permit" that had allowed the group to use the flats in previous years. Selmer declared that "If all those traditional uses are going to damage the Dyea flats to where a certain portion of the gold rush history is lost, then that's a certain price that must be paid for the people of today." [159]

In an attempt to find a solution amenable to both sides, Superintendent Clay Alderson met with Mayor Selmer on June 10. Selmer, clearly angry at the existing state of affairs, hoped that the NPS would be able to provide some flexibility on what land uses were allowed in Dyea, and he vowed that if the talks were not productive, he would attempt to create a new state park from the state-owned lands in the Dyea area, both inside and outside of the national historical park boundaries. The city council backed Selmer in supporting the new state park. Harry Noah, the state's natural resources commissioner, openly voiced support for the idea, and some DNR staff members were likewise supportive. [160]

By early August, however, upper-level DNR managers had concluded that the state was in no position to manage a Dyea area state park. They told the city, however, that the long-delayed mental health trust issue was finally nearing a resolution, and that as a result, the city would once again be free to select land for its own purposes. As noted above, the city had first shown an interest in selecting Dyea land in early August 1980, and another spark of interest had arisen in the fall of 1989. Both attempts, however, had been thwarted by difficulties related to the Mental Health Trust lands dispute.

This issue became public, and was hotly debated, at the August 4, 1994 city council meeting. Superintendent Alderson, who attended the meeting, repeated the offer he had made five years earlier (see section above). He hoped that the NPS and the council might be able to work out an agreement in which city land selections made inside the park would be surveyed by the NPS, then purchased by the federal government for fair market value. But a hostile council, learning that the mental health lands issue was on the verge of being resolved, proposed that the state turn ownership of much of its Dyea lands to the city as soon as January 1995. City Manager Jim Filip, steering a middle course, recommended that the NPS continue its management of the Dyea area; local residents, however, demanded a greater say in determining what uses would be allowed on the flats. [161]

During the midst of the controversy, a lawmaker proposed that the state revoke its longstanding memorandum of understanding over state lands within the park. Fred Zharoff, the Kodiak-based senator who represented Skagway in the state legislature, suggested the action as the result of pressure from local model airplane enthusiasts. He announced that if his proposal was enacted, the state would be free to develop its land as it wished after a year, which was the grace period described in the MOU. Alaska State Parks official Bill Garry responded to Zharoff's move by offering MOU language that would have weakened the NPS's authority to enforce agency regulations. Few others, however, backed Zharoff's plan, and after a few months, the issue was quietly dropped. [162]

On August 24, at a meeting of the city's Parks and Recreation Committee, Superintendent Alderson and city leaders continued the debate, commenced at the August 4 council meeting, over how land in the Dyea area should be used. Alderson, hoping that the city would limit its land selections to parcels outside of the park, noted that the area was presently being used for a variety of recreational activities, and stressed the importance of the area's historical and wildlife resources. But some city council members presented a contrasting viewpoint. Suzanne Hartson noted that "I don't see the land as historic, but a nice place for recreation." She and John Tronrud envisioned that the area, if selected by the city, might support more camping, use of recreational vehicles, the construction of homesites, perhaps even a small golf course. [163]

Finally, in December, the city council met and made its final land selections. The city, given the opportunity to choose a total of about 8,000 acres in state land, chose to select slightly more than 1,600 acres. Among its selections were 1,015 acres in lower Taiya Valley (in the Dyea area and between Dyea and the Sawmill), 427 acres in West Creek Valley, acreage on the hillside east of Skagway, and approximately one square mile of land in and around Sheep Camp. More than 80 percent of the lands the city selected were outside of the park. The acreage within the park, however, was high in historic values, as Congress had determined in 1976 when it established the park. The NPS, therefore, formally protested the city's action in early August 1995. [164] In mid-December, the state's Department of Natural Resources rejected the city's land conveyance. The state gave the city six months to respond, and by January 1996 the city council had decided to prepare a management plan to buttress its case. Two months later, the city hired a Juneau consulting firm, Sheinberg Associates, to prepare the plan. The company completed the plan and presented it to the city council on June 6. The city, in turn, forwarded the plan on to DNR officials in hopes of overturning the state's rejection. But no final decision has yet been made; as of this writing, none of the city's selections, either within the park boundary or elsewhere in the Taiya Valley, have been transferred out of state ownership. [165]

By the time the city made its selections, the Dyea area was receiving some long-overdue attention from NPS planners. As noted above, the city council had recommended in July 1993 that the NPS proceed with a "conservative approach" to development within the park. Given that dictum and the comments included from other interested parties, regional planning official Jack Mosby proceeded to compile a draft general management plan.

Early in the compilation process, Mosby recognized that the Dyea area would require an expanded planning effort. In January 1994, the decision was made to compile a Dyea Development Concept Plan, similar to the efforts that had been begun in 1984-85 and 1987-88. Mosby assigned landscape architect Ken Pendleton to the task. Pendleton, using the cultural resource data that had been compiled during the mid-1980s, laid out a series of alternative development scenarios for the Dyea area, and by September 1995 the draft DCP had been completed. The plan was then incorporated into the park's General Management Plan, the draft of which was presented to the public in June 1996. [166]

During the midst of the DCP planning effort, interest in the Dyea area by commercial tour operators reawakened after an extended lull. During the early 1990s, ranger Jeff Mow had begun to offer visitors tours of the Dyea townsite; he called them "Bushwhacking Tours Through Time." Those tours, which began and ended where the road crossed the West Branch of the Taiya River, had first been offered only once or twice per week. Soon, however, their popularity increased to the point that they were offered on a daily basis. The increased interest in the NPS-sponsored tour caught the attention of Skagway tour operators. In 1994, Klondike Tours advertised a similar tour under a NPS commercial use license, but the firm offered few if any tours. Gray Line of Alaska, working with local operator Sockeye Cycle, offered a bicycle tour in 1994. Their three-hour trips from Skagway to Dyea proved highly successful. [167]

In 1995, the number of commercial tour possibilities available to Dyea area visitors increased considerably. In addition to the townsite tours and the bicycle rides, Chilkoot Horseback Adventures began operating horseback rides and wagon rides on the Dyea flats. Skagway Float Tours revived a decade-old idea to operate raft trips along the Taiya River between West Creek and the mouth of the Taiya, and Chilkat Guides, Ltd. also offered float trips. Finally, bus tours in the Dyea area were offered by four different companies. A total of eight companies utilized the Dyea portion of the park; all operated under NPS commercial use licenses. Park officials welcomed the tour operators' renewed interest in the area. They recognized, however, that continued visitor growth had the potential to negatively impact the area's historical and natural resources. As a result, portions of the DCP (and the consequent GMP) have addressed the agency's concerns in that area. [168]

Willard 'Skip' Elliott

(left) Willard "Skip" Elliott was a Dyea landowner who served as a ringleader for opposition to the Dyea Land Acquisition Plan. He later served as Skagway's city manager and mayor. (right) During Victoria Day weekend, large numbers of Whitehorse residents often descend on the Skagway area. Occasionally, they cause damage and injuries; in 1988, several criminal incidents took place at the Dyea campground. (Lynn Canal News, October 2, 1980, 8 (left); Whitehorse Star cartoon, reprinted in the June 5, 1985 Skagway News (right))

Pullen Barn

remote control flying enthusiast
(top) The so-called Pullen Barn was one of the few structures in Dyea that remained standing when the NPS began to administer the area in 1976. The structure, which dates from the gold rush period, was probably built by Robert Wright, who had lived in Dyea since 1893. It collapsed during the winter of 1982-83 and is now a decaying ruin. (bottom) Remote control flying enthusiasts met each year from 1980 to 1993. When, in 1994, they were refused permission to camp on Dyea flats, they and many Skagway residents criticized the NPS's decision. (David Cohen photo, KLGO SC #866 (top); Jeff Brady Collection (bottom))

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Last Updated: 24-Sep-2000