BLM Now Accepting Comments on Ambler Road Draft Environmental Impact Statement

 

The Ambler Road Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released on Friday, August 23rd, along with a schedule of public hearings. 

The official 45 day public comment period will end on Saturday, October 14th. This is the minimum length legally allowed by federal law.

How you can submit your comments:

  • Online here (click the “Comment on Document” button)
  • By mail: Ambler Road DEIS Comments, BLM Fairbanks District Office, 222 University Avenue, Fairbanks, AK  99709
  • In person at public meetings or hand delivered to BLM, 222 University Avenue, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709    

Scroll down for a template to help you get your comments started. 

22 public hearings will be held in the coming weeks. Click here for the complete schedule.  Plan to attend if you can. 

Hearings in Alatna, Allakaket, Ambler, Anaktuvuk Pass, Bettles, Buckland, Coldfoot, Evansville, Hughes, Huslia, Kiana, Kobuk, Kotzebue, Noatak, Noorvik, Selawik, Shungnak, Stevens Village, Tanana, and Wiseman will also include ANILCA 810 hearings. 

The National Park Service is also accepting comments on the portion of the road that would cross Gates of the Arctic National Preserve. Learn more here.  

 

What does the Ambler road project propose?

 

A 220-mile road along the southern Brooks Range through the upper Kobuk and Koyukuk watersheds

  •         Would provide access to copper deposits with high risk for acid drainage
  •         Would extend road access from Dalton Highway at mile into rural northwestern Alaska
  •         Crosses 20 miles of Gates of the Arctic National Preserve as well as the Kobuk Wild & Scenic River

Fiscal irresponsibility & local opposition 

  • $475 – $616 million projected for permitting, construction, and maintenance
  • Over $28 million has already been appropriated
  • No economic guarantee of mining projects in region  if a road is built
  • Local opposition includes eleven local resolutions from Allakaket, Ambler, Bettles, Evansville, Huslia, Kobuk, Kotzebue, Koyukuk, Louden, Rampart, and Ruby

Rural subsistence threatened

  • Western Arctic Caribou Herd threatened by development and influx of hunters
  • Salmon, whitefish and sheefish in Kobuk watershed threatened by habitat loss and acid drainage
  • Culverts will cross hundreds of anadromous streams and rivers impacting wetlands and impeding fish movements

 

Ambler road in the news

 

  • E&E News:  Controversial Alaska road is up for public discussion, 8/28/19. (Must be a subscriber to read).  “We should be listening to what the communities want, not outside mining interests,” said Solaris Gillispie, water and mining manager for the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. Alaska is in the midst of a state budget crisis, but under pro-development Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), AIDEA is pushing ahead with a private-public partnership to build the $450 million road, which will cost $10 million a year to maintain. “The state is cutting funds for education, seniors and much more,” Gillispie said. “It should not be providing an enormous subsidy to a well-funded industry with no assurance of paying the state back.
  • KTUU: Ambler Road EIS Comment Period Opens: The Northern Alaska Environmental Center also said the project simply doesn’t pencil out. They say it’s already cost the state $28 million in planning, and the state projects it construction would cost about $430 million. They say that the actual costs will likely be higher.
  • Anchorage Daily News: Trump administration takes step toward development of 200-mile mining road in northern Alaska. The Trump administration on Friday released draft studies required before a 200-mile industrial road can be carved through northern Alaska wilderness to a mineral-rich region. Conservation groups quickly derided the project as a costly “private driveway” for mining interests that deficit-choked Alaska can’t afford.”

In the Brooks Range Council film below, The Land We Live In, Doug Bergman says, “If that road is built, everything will change around here.” Bird researcher Nick Newberry noted in 2017, “A road like this is unlikely to remain a single crack in the proverbial windshield of this intact landscape for long.”

Help protect the Brooks Range from unwanted harmful exploitation. Comment now. 

 

 

Use this template to get started on your comments by filling in your knowledge and concerns

Contact the Northern Center’s Clean Water and Mining Manager, Solaris Gillispie, at solaris@northern.org,  if you have questions.

 

Dear Ms. McMaster-Goering:

 

I am writing to express my opposition to the State of Alaska’s proposed 220-mile industrial access road to the Ambler mining district. This Road would have serious impacts on fish and wildlife, which provide vital subsistence resources to communities throughout the region. The proposed route cuts across one-third of the Southern Brooks Range and intersects three caribou herds’ migratory routes. It also intersects streams and rivers that are spawning ground and habitat for sheefish, whitefish, and three species of salmon. The proposed road would also pass through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, a premier wilderness area in Alaska, and across the Kobuk Wild and Scenic River. The purpose of this road is to access a mining district, so BLM needs to fully consider the impacts of these mines and any infrastructure related to the mines or roads (e.g., gravel mines for road construction, processing facilities, tailings disposal areas, ore/export terminals, gaslines, contamination, etc.).

 

The total cost of building, operating, and maintaining this project is expected to be between $844 and $906 million. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) says it will pay for this road through tolls, but has no real plans for how that will work. If the mining companies go bankrupt,  Alaskans will be on the hook.

 

I am particularly concerned about the following impacts and areas in the vicinity of the project: 

 

I am concerned about these issues because:

 

 If these issues are not addressed I am worried that: 

 

Sincerely,

[your name]

Northern Alaska Environmental Center

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