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Kobuk-Seward Peninsula Resource Management Plan

The Kobuk-Seward Peninsula Resource Management Plan sets out management polices and practices for about 13 million acres of federal lands in Western Alaska. In 2006 and 2007, the Bureau of Land Management revised the plan, recommending opening up huge areas to mineral development. Learn more about the plan and NAEC's concerns.

Kobuk-Seward Peninsula Resource Management Plan

In 2004, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began the process of revising the land management plan for federal lands in the Kobuk-Seward Peninsula planning area. The approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) replaced the outdated 1982 Northwest Management Framework Plan (MFP), setting out management practices and policies for 11.9 million acres of federal land within the planning area (the entire planning area consists of about 30 million acres). The vast planning area includes many important habitat areas for the Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WACH), including wintering grounds, insect relief habitat, and calving grounds.

 

Future CaribouThe April 2006 draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) identified four alternatives:  the no-action alternative, an intense resource development alternative, a conservation focused alternative, and an alternative that combined aspects of both resource development and conservation, which BLM identified as the preferred alternative. A common attribute all three action alternatives was that lands withdrawn from mineral development under section 17(d)(1) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA) would be revoked, opening up huge areas in Western Alaska to mineral development. (Under the conservation alternative, most ANSCA withdraws would be revoked, but some news lands would be withdrawn). Under the prior land management plan, about 70% of BLM lands in the planning area were withdraw under ANSCA (d)(1), and thus closed to mineral development.

 

In September 2007, the BLM released the proposed Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement and thirty days later, the agency released the Record of Decision (ROD) and approved RPM, wherein the agency adopted the preferred alternative as the RMP for the planning and all implementation planning and specific projects within the planning area must now comply with the RMP. While the RMP established six Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) to protect wildlife and habitat (including many areas of critical caribou habitat), all that is required for mineral development activities in an ACEC is submission of a Plan of Operation by the developer. Additionally, the RMP recommended revocation of all ANSCA (d)(1) withdraws to the Secretary of the Interior. Additional action is required by the Secretary of the Interior to actually revoke the ANSCA (d)(1) withdraws; the RMP functions solely as a recommendation to the Secretary, who must ultimately approve the withdraws. While the RMP is currently in place and functioning, the Secretary has not taken any further action on the withdraw recommendation as of September 2009. The NAEC continues to look for ways to work to prevent the revocation of the ANSCA (d)(1) withdraws and protect wildlife and habitat in the planning area.

 

Access BLM's planning documents by following this link.

Kobuk Seward RMP cover

 

The NAEC signed onto a protest letter by the Alaska Wilderness League submitted in response to the Final EIS. The protest letter highlights the shortcomings of the FEIS, including the recommended (d)(1) withdraws.


Click here to download the protest letter.

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