Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels

Earned Media

Featured Articles

Explore a selection of articles featuring Shannon's environmental justice advocacy work.

Connor Gallagher
Aerial photo of the Chilkat Watershed.

The Importance of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve IBA to Migratory Birds

Not many places on the planet look like Jilkáat Aani, or the Chilkat Valley. There are dramatic mountains, common in Southeast Alaska, the distinguished silty teal color of the waters, postcard communities, and life everywhere.

“We do have the jagged mountains, the Chilkat Range,” says Lani Strong Hotch, an award-winning textile artist and Chilkat Indian Village-proclaimed culture bearer. “I look out my window and I can see where part of the Tsirku enters into the Chilkat.”

The Chilkat Valley

A tiny Alaska town is split over a goldmine. At stake is a way of life

For 2,000 years, Jones Hotch’s ancestors have fished Alaska’s Chilkat River for the five species of salmon that spawn in its cold, clean waters. They have gathered berries, hunted moose and raised their families, sheltered from the extremes of winter by the black, saw-toothed peaks of the Iron Mountain.

Now Hotch fears a proposed mining project could end that way of life.

Hotch has an infectious, boyish laugh – but there is no mistaking how worried he is about plans to build a mine where milli

Proposed Gold and Silver Mine in Southeast Alaska Threatens Salmon, Bald Eagles, and Local Food Security

Lani Hotch's hands run in and out of wool thread, weaving patterns that reflect the lands and waters of her ancestral territory. Outside her window, the Chilkat, a powerful glacier-fed river, churns toward the sea. In Hotch’s backyard, salmon strips are curing in a smokehouse. Hotch was born here in Klukwan, Alaska, a Tlingit settlement with a name that translates to “eternal village.”

The motifs Hotch weaves were passed down from the generations of women who came before her, including a patter
The mountain range Constantine is exploring as part of the Palmer Project.

Administrative court rules to uphold Constantine wastewater permit, with modifications

An administrative court ruled to uphold a wastewater disposal permit at the Palmer Project, but with some modifications. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation will have to change the way it sets limits on pollutant levels. This could delay some operations at the proposed mine site.

A coalition of tribal and environmental groups has challenged a wastewater treatment permit issued to Constantine. Shannon Donahue works for Rivers Without Borders, one of the groups that appealed the p
Photo by Connor Gallagher, courtesy of Takshanuk Watershed Council
A steep, snowy mountain scene looking down over the Klehini River Valley. The Palmer mineral deposit is contained within the ridge in the left foreground. Viewpoint is looking northeast, up the Klehini River Valley and across the Canadian border. (Photo Courtesy of Takshanuk Watershed Council, Photo by Connor Gallagher)

Palmer project receives permit for seismic exploration

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources on Monday issued a permit to the proposed mine site, the Palmer Project. The permit allows the company to go ahead with seismic exploration work near the Klehini River.

The Palmer Project is a Copper, Zinc, Gold and Silver exploration project, upstream from Haines and Klukwan. Constantine Metals, who owns the Palmer Project, has received permission from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to proceed with seismic exploration at two sites above th

Comments period extended for Palmer Project new phase

A mining prospect near the headwaters of the Chilkat River is entering a new phase of operations. And the public comment period has been extended.

The Palmer Project is a Copper, Zinc, Gold and Silver exploration project, upstream from Haines and Klukwan. Representatives for the Palmer Project and American Pacific, who owns it, did not return requests for comment on this story.

The company has applied for an amendment to its 2019 application. It will require a state land use permit.

This info

SEACC entangled in union dispute

The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council’s office in Juneau is where the executive director is facing a challenge from several non-management employees who voted in December to unionize and are petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for recognition of that vote by the non-profit conservation organization . (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Non-management employees seeking union status at the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council are petitioning the National Labor Relations Board, arguin
Chilkat Valley News logo

State re-approves Palmer Project wastewater plan

The Alaska Division of Water again approved Constantine Mining’s wastewater discharge plan for underground mineral exploration at the Palmer Project, an exploratory mining operation upriver from Haines and Klukwan.

The division initially approved the plan last May but in response to concerns raised this summer by the Chilkat Indian Village of Klukwan (CIV), Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner Jason Brune vacated approval last month and remanded it for further revi

Activists call out federal agencies for lack of public input on Haines-area mine

Environmental activists claim that government agencies are failing to allow the public to weigh in on a controversial mining project near Haines. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is asking residents to pressure federal agencies to open up the decision-making process surrounding the Palmer Project to allow public feedback. KHNS’ Mike Swasey talked with the council’s Upper Lynn Canal organizer Shannon Donahue about the effort.

Swasey – Shannon Donohue with the Southeast Alaska Conservation C

The Bearpocalypse

In total that summer, residents and law enforcement killed at least 49 brown bears in Haines — about one-fifth of the local bear population. There is some evidence that the number killed might be as high as 60. Most were shot.

Between June and November, there were bear shootings nearly every week. While some of the bears were legally shot during hunting season, more than half were shot by residents and police “in defense of life or property,” or DLP. Alaska state law allows the killing of game

AIDEA considers shuttering its ore terminal in Skagway and building a new one in Haines

The state’s development corporation is thinking about decommissioning its ore terminal in Skagway and opening a similar facility in Haines instead. Local officials in Haines see it as an opportunity to upgrade old shipping infrastructure. It’s an expensive proposition, and one that not all Haines residents are excited about.

Skagway’s deep water port has been used to ship ore from the Yukon for over a century. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) bought Skagway’s ore t

Haines officials advance Lutak Dock redevelopment amidst questions over purpose

Haines officials are working to finalize a $28 million redevelopment plan for its freight and fuel dock, the Lutak Dock. As borough officials are negotiating to secure the remaining roughly $3 million in state funding, many residents are alarmed at the possibility for an ore transport facility as part of the redevelopment project. See the proposed plan here.

Haines harbormaster Shawn Bell says phase three of the Lutak Dock redevelopment plan would ensure both freight and fuel barges would conti

As freight ramp repairs continue, Haines Borough votes to support first phases of Lutak Dock redevelopment plan

The Lutak Dock redevelopment plan was at the center of Tuesday night’s Haines Borough Assembly meeting, with the public weighing in for and against the new phased approach. As KHNS’ Corinne Smith reports, last week, the roll-on, roll-off ramp leased by Alaska Marine Lines partially sank, and the incident has added to the intensity of the public debate.

Representatives of Alaska Marine Lines say they are still investigating why Haines’ roll-on, roll-off ramp partially sank last week at Lutak Doc

Law enforcement kills more bears after property damage, break-ins

This week residents in the Haines townsite heard an unusual amount of gunfire as law enforcement worked to get bears off of property where they’d found food. There’s been a dramatic uptick in bear damage this August.

Luck Dunbar zipped his coat and walked down a line of storage units he rents out on Small Tracts Road, and pointed out bear damage to his property.

“We’re looking at eight doors all piled up at the end of the end a lot there,” he said.

Bears ripped the garage-style doors off of e

Volunteers offer to pick fruit for free to avoid attracting bears

A group of nonprofits in Haines are offering to help residents pick fruit from their trees for free. The new initiative aims to help the community take advantage of locally grown fruit while removing a possible bear attractant.

Haines has seen an increase in reports of encounters with bears in residential areas over the past year. Often these bears are attracted to outdoor food sources such as chicken coops, gardens and fruit-bearing trees.

Shannon Donahue is the Executive Director of the Grea
The mountain range Constantine is exploring as part of the Palmer Project.

Supreme Court decision could influence permitting at the Palmer Project

The Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that the Clean Water Act applies to pollutants that reach protected waters, even from a distance. Conservationists say it’s a win for clean water. It could mean stricter permitting is required for Constantine Metal Resources’ expansion plans for a mine project near Haines. State regulators remain tight-lipped about what might happen next.

Conservation groups have been waiting on the outcome of the federal case County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund to see h

Proposed Alaskan mine threatens salmon, environmentalists say | News

Some residents of Haines, Alaska, are refusing to participate in public consultations about a proposed mine near the community.

B.C.-based Constantine Metal Resources wants public input for its Palmer project. The proposed underground copper-zinc-silver-gold mine near Haines is in the advanced exploration stage.

Consultations were held in Haines earlier this month. But environmental groups and some individuals have chosen not to participate in the interview-driven feedback consultations.

"We
The mountain range Constantine is exploring as part of the Palmer Project.

Haines conservation groups snub Constantine’s engagement effort

Some conservation groups in Haines have been speaking out against a local mining project for years. When the mining company hired a consultant to document community concerns this winter, the didn’t show up. Here’s what happened.

Constantine Metal Resources and Whitehorse-based environmental consultant Hemmera invited organizations and individuals to sit down for informal, confidential interviews. It’s a chance for locals to weigh in on the controversial project—and a way for Constantine to lear

EVST Alumni Collaborate and Bring Light to Urgent Environmental Issue — Camas Magazine

The story, The Chilkat’s Fight Against the Palmer Project, was published on The Cleanest Line in September. It details the threats the Palmer Project would have on the headwaters of the Chilkat River. The interviews expose the deep and rich history of the Chillkat Tlingit who have lived on the land for over 2,000 years. The connections between salmon, the Chilkat River and the native community are the essence of the story.

Shannon is grateful to her connection with Tim and his willingness to ta

Governor Dunleavy touts economic benefits after visiting Palmer Project

Conservation groups are objecting after Governor Mike Dunleavy posted pictures on Facebook of an unannounced trip to Haines last week to visit the site of a controversial proposed mine.

Governor Dunleavy posted photos on his official page last Thursday of his visit to the Palmer Project. That’s a potential mine under development by Constantine Metal Resources, a Canadian company. He said he would continue “pushing to make Alaska ‘Open for Business.” Afterward, the comments on his post erupted i

Empire Live: Juneauites give testimony of proposed changes to water quality regulations

Summary: Many of the questions posed to DEC were concerned with the state’s stewardship of the environment. All of the comments came from people who opposed the revisions and a majority of the speakers came from professional organizations or advocacy groups.

DEC staff maintained that changes to the state law were bringing Alaska in line with federal regulation and gave the state power to be able to guide applicants for variances. Critics say the changes will endanger the state’s water and publi

ADEC approves waste management permit for tunnel excavation at the Palmer Project

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has approved a waste management permit for a controversial mineral exploration project near the communities of Klukwan and Haines. Constantine Metal Resources plans to excavate a mile-long underground ramp at the Palmer Project in order to carry out more exploratory drilling.

Constantine’s Vice President of External Affairs, Liz Cornejo, says that a waste management permit was required in order to move on to the next phase of exploration at th
Photo by Connor Gallagher, courtesy of Takshanuk Watershed Council
A steep, snowy mountain scene looking down over the Klehini River Valley. The Palmer mineral deposit is contained within the ridge in the left foreground. Viewpoint is looking northeast, up the Klehini River Valley and across the Canadian border. (Photo Courtesy of Takshanuk Watershed Council, Photo by Connor Gallagher)

State advisory body urges ADF&G to exercise due diligence considering mineral exploration permits

Constantine Metal Resources released the results of its Preliminary Economic Assessment on Monday—the first published, on-record description of what a future mine could be. While investors peruse potential mine earnings, the company is doing separate work to secure permits that will allow them to achieve the results promised in the PEA. The public comment period for those permits just ended.

The Department of Environmental Conservation received over 200 comments on Constantine Metal Resources’

Concerns over Chilkoot Corridor reiterated, moratorium on new tour permits possible

Overcrowding on the Chilkoot Corridor remains a major concern for Haines residents. That’s one of the takeaways from a meeting about state parks issues in the Chilkat Valley. And, the local government may put a moratorium on new tours in the area.

The road to Chilkoot Lake, following alongside the river, is a popular thoroughfare during the summer months.

Spawning salmon attract bears, which in turn attract visitors with cameras.

Professional guides operate tours in the area, while independen
Load More

Shannon Kelly Donahue is an environmental writer, advocate, and copyeditor based on the Chilkat Peninsula just south of Deishú (Haines), Alaska on Jilkáat Aani.


Contact Shannon

Contact Shannon with projects and queries using the contact form below!

Message successfully sent!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.