Atlas for the isthmus
Home to most residents of Greater Chilkat Watershed, we have many historical views for Deishú, end of trail (Haines) that can be assembled into ‘page-flippers,’ repeat-photography before-afters, and 3D stereopairs.
On the west (left) side of these historical images, Sawmill Wetland has undergone remarkable changes over the past century. In 1929, today’s Sawmill Creek was just one of many braiding overflow channels of Jilkáat, cache (Chilkat River). Charley Brouillette told us that free-ranging cattle grazed Lyngbye sedge—locally called saltgrass—throughout these flats.
By 1961, rapid glacial rebound had removed some of the upper flats near Haines Highway from tidal influence. Sinuous incising channels—former tidal sloughs—snaked down to meet the creek.
In the 1980s and 90s, when I surveyed Sawmill Wetlands with hydrologist Dan Bishop (newsletter #4-Streamwalkers) this area was spectacular fish and wildlife habitat.
On our final panel for 2019, Most of this corner of the wetlands is golf course. Advancing shrub thickets ‘jumped the creek’ and now overhang the main river channel. Except for artificial clearings, the open parkland of the 80s & 90s is tight jungle. On a 2050 orthophoto, who will thrive here?