Audubon-TNC’s Chilkat biogegraphic province in pink. Kwáan boundaries green-outlined. Alaska-British-Columbia border dashed. Greater Chilkat Watershed—outlined in red—intersects all but excludes portions of each.

Mapping collaboration

This section of Places>Biogeographic provinces is somewhat unconventional in that it does not adhere precisely to province boundaries as defined in 2007 by Audubon/TNC. Rather, it reflects an exciting new collaboration between Discovery Southeast and residents of what we define as the Greater Chilkat Watershed.

At the northern tip of Southeast Alaska’s inland waterway, 5 silt-laden transboundary rivers—fanned like fingers of a giant hand—converge into a fertile, glacier-fed ‘palm:’ Jilkáat, cache (Chilkat River valley). Near the estuary, the port of Deishú, trail’s end (Haines) greets raincountry travelers bound for drier, boreal realms in Canada and interior Alaska. Here is one of the continent’s great ecotones—a zone of transition, connectivity, genetic mixing, and commerce.

In early winter, 2019, I was invited by coalition of organizations based in the Greater Chilkat to compile a biogeographic and cultural atlas for this region. The map below shows its boundaries. Unlike the other mainland Biogeographic Provinces, which are clipped to the AK-BC border, this one extends inland to the heads of Canadian tributaries feeding ultimately into Chilkat River.

Greater Chilkat Watershed lies in a sudden rainshadow, to the north and west of Glacier Bay National Park. Canadian tributaries add 865 square miles to the 1,025 square miles of the Alaskan part of this basin, thus comprising 46% of GCW’s total 1,890 square miles.

Northeast along BC-AK border (the mowed swath on right) at Pleasant Camp.

Because “atlas,” in its printed form, might conjure something static or ‘finished,’ we call this evolving effort a living atlas. Our intent is that this collection of maps and stories continues to grow, beyond conclusion of any one contract or funding cycle. In its online form—here on JuneauNature—the atlas is interactive. It coordinates and solicits contributions from the Chilkat Valley community—serving to identify gaps and unknowns as well as sharing what we do know.

As our project evolves, various branches of the mapping and story-telling effort will be listed below as linked content-pages, also accessible from Lynn Canal Conservation’s website.

Your feedback is appreciated as we develop this ‘living atlas.’ Among the early, draft products will be geopdfs for navigation within the Greater Chilkat Watershed. These are especially useful in the often-off-line GCW, because they give your position, track, photopoints, etc. using only the GPS on your device. From my constantly updating ArcGIS project, it’s  easy for me to crank out a custom, high-res geopdf for any subregion or subject matter. Just let me know what you need!

First 2 geopdfs:

Lingít placenames

Bedrock geology

Journal for July, 2019 visit:

From  20190706 to 08, when my sister Tina was visiting from Mexico, we ferried to Haines for a first meeting and exploration with folks from Lynn Canal Conservation. My 61-page journal is here.

In this section

Chilkat journal, 20190706-08

A first visit with LCC In July, 2019, Jessica Plachta, director of Lynn Canal Conservation, offered to host my family…

2019 | Richard Carstensen | 61 pages

Chilkat bedrock geology.

Rock-type units from USGS Here’s a geology map for field navigation in more accessible portions of the Greater Chilkat Watershed—US…

2020 | Richard Carstensen | geopdf—10MB—& 5-page draft chapter

Chilkat place names

Jilkáat and Jilkoot Aaní, land of Chilkat & Chilkoot people The 2012 cultural atlas edited by Tom Thornton and Harold…

2020 | Richard Carstensen | geopdf, 17MB

Glacial & cultural history of northern Lingít Aaní

A fireside presentation My talk at the Visitor Center in February, 2020 explored the past 20,000 years of glaciation and…

2020 | Richard Carstensen | 27 minutes

Mud Bay survey for SEAL Trust

In June, 2013, Diane Mayer of Southeast Alaska Land Trust asked Koren Bosworth and me to survey and describe wetlands…

2013 | Richard Carstensen & Koren Bosworth | 64 pages, 12MB

Clickable map of Southeast provinces

Hover over each numbered province; a click takes you to that sub-category