Superintendent Wetz,

I am so sorry you inherited a boondoggle like this your first year here. I’m talking about the proposal to clear cut acres of land on the east side, south of the Dyea bridge, to provide a rather large paved parking lot and also widen the existing trail system on the already flat walkways now in use. The public hearing for this proposal earlier this week was not well publicized.

This is the stupidest proposal I have seen from the park service since they decided they had to provide a third bronze sculpture of a male prospector for our little town of Skagway as if no one else participated in the Klondike Gold Rush.

My mother, Barbara D. Kalen, hauled me and my younger siblings along with most of the neighborhood kids out to Dyea annually to swim in the pollywog pools that hatch our boreal toads. I trucked my kids out there to do the same thing, then my grandkids later on down the road. These toads will not thrive with a “paved paradise” smack dab in the middle of their one and only Dyea breeding territory.

It directly impacts local business Chilkoot Outpost which provides plenty of parking and refreshments for hikers, visitors and locals. I haven’t heard them complaining that their facilities are inadequate or overrun. The park service already provides competition with an NPS campground almost directly opposite the Outpost. In all my years here I do not recall ever seeing both facilities at capacity at the same time.

The number of hikers taking the Chilkoot Trail is strictly monitored. There is no need for them to have long term transportation parked at the trailhead. Who is this parking lot supposed to be for? What need has been demonstrated for it? Show me some data, an impact study or two and an analysis of the projected benefits.

NPS has already laced a high impact internet of gravel eyesores through the old Dyea townsite for languid walkers and low energy visitors on the west side of the river. Mind you, it’s great for showing off the history of the area and I love wandering about over there, but it already affects a lot of acreage. We do not need another over-developed hiking area on the east side through this lovely, fragile and irreplaceable ecosystem. Birdwatchers, mushroom hunters, hooligan fishers, pollywog enthusiasts, wildflower lovers … we already know, use and cherish this area.

Please, have another public input meeting and make sure it’s well advertised in a variety of ways. Give us a chance to spread the word and to be heard.


Betsy Albecker, fourth generation Skagway gold rush descendant