KIB Assembly Considers How to Protect Archaeological Sites in Chiniak During Tree Salvage

KMXT-faviconKayla Desroches/KMXT

Last summer’s Twin Creeks Fire damaged many of the trees in Chiniak, but it left another kind of resource untouched: the archaeological sites buried beneath the earth.

That’s one matter the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly addressed at its regular meeting last night before it accepted a timber salvage sale contract with A-1 Timber Consulting.

Assemblyman Frank Peterson, formerly the Alutiiq Museum’s director of operations, expressed concern about the invasiveness of A-1’s operations in Chiniak.

“If you’re not aware, the Alutiiq museum is doing community archeology digs just past Womens Bay and so there are archaeological sites all along the road system, and there’s a good chance that there are archaeology sites in our 800 acres. So, what kind of training have they received, and have they reached out to the Alutiiq museum to determine if there are any current sites in that location?”
After some back-and-forth with A-1 representatives in the audience, Peterson questioned whether they were making the issue a priority.  A-1 contractor Ken Cross hurried to set the record straight. He said he’s worked with a number of different Native American tribes.

“Now, in most of the cases, they have surveyed their lands, and they have identified areas, and those are off limits. They tell us where they are. They’ve told us where they are in those cases… Cowlitz… So, that was a situation we dealt with. But, yeah, we do take it very seriously.”

Peterson says he’d like to see the Alutiiq Museum curator of archaeology go out to Chiniak and give a presentation to the A-1 timber crew. He said he’d be satisfied with his judgment on the situation.

“At least I know that they’re making an effort to take this seriously. And I’m not saying you’re not, because I understand. I just – if your guys don’t know even what they’re looking for, how can you identify what an archeological site is?”

The contract approval carried 6-0. According to borough assessor Bill Roberts, who acted in the place of borough manager at the meeting, the borough is likely to sell the damaged timber to an interested buyer for a maximum of $120 for a thousand board feet.

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