On ­December 11th, the BLM opened a 90-day comment period on its Central Yukon Draft Resource Management Plan, ending March 11. This plan will be used to manage an extensive region of Alaska for the next 20 years, and now we have a chance to weigh in. Virtual public meetings are planned starting January 26.
Alternative C2, the proposed alternative, is grossly inadequate for protecting this region’s lands, waters, and wildlife. Alternative C2 removes environmental protections, thereby opening more than 99% of BLM managed lands to oil, gas, mining, and other development. The Central Yukon area spans 55 million acres in the interior and we have the opportunity to shape the management of more than 13 million acres of this region, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). If we submit enough comments on the Draft Resource Management Plan to protect landscapes, wildlife, and communities, we can say we had a hand in protecting one of the wildest areas remaining on earth.
While the plan update was initiated under the Obama administration, this draft was compiled under the Trump administration and, as mentioned above, has had nearly all environmental protections and considerations stripped.
If you’re feeling burned out on making comments it feels like no one will listen to, we hear you. However, with an incoming Biden administration, there is hope that the plan can be turned around between draft stage (now), and the final, to better steward the incredible and diverse landscapes and peoples of this vast area. The BLM needs to hear from us to make this happen.

 

Please note that you must register for the virtual public meetings in advance at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/35315/530. Once registered, you will receive instructions for participating online or by phone. 

 

While all meetings are open to the public, cooperation is appreciated in following the “focus audience” recommendations listed after each meeting to permit specific focus on the listed communities. Meetings Jan. 28 and Feb. 2 will include subsistence hearings as required by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act for the communities of Coldfoot, Wiseman, Bettles, Evansville, Anaktuvuk Pass, Alatna and Allakaket.

Central Yukon Draft RMP/EIS Virtual Public Meeting Schedule

  • January 26, 2021, 1-5 p.m.(Focus audience: General public)
  • January 27, 2021, 1-5 p.m.(Focus audience: General public)
  • January 28, 2021, 1-5 p.m.(Focus audience: Coldfoot, Wiseman, Bettles, Evansville, Anaktuvuk Pass, Alatna, Allakaket); includes ANILCA Section 810 hearing.
  • February 2, 2021, 1-5 p.m.(Focus audience: Coldfoot, Wiseman, Bettles, Evansville, Anaktuvuk Pass, Alatna, Allakaket); includes ANILCA Section 810 hearing.
  • February 3, 2021, 1-5 p.m.(Focus audience: Nulato, Koyukuk, Ruby, Galena/Louden Village)
  • February 4, 2021, 1-5 p.m.(Focus audience: Tanana, Rampart, Stevens Village, Venetie/Arctic Village)

 

Additionally, comments can be submitted in the following ways by March 11th:

 

Attn: Chel Ethun
22 University Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99709

 

Elements to highlight when providing verbal or written comments:

 

  • All Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) proposed in the Preliminary Alternatives Concepts should be adopted in order to adequately protect the planning area’s lands, waters, and wildlife. If preferred Alternative C2 were chosen, only the Toolik Lake Research Station ACEC would remain designated. This is grossly inadequate and would be in direct violation of BLM mandate to manage wisely for protection of all natural resources.
  • Ensure that consultation will take place with all tribes living within the planning area, on the tribes’ own terms prior to carrying out activities that would affect them. The importance of protecting and upholding subsistence rights and cultural property throughout the planning area cannot be overemphasized. Peoples living within the planning area have a right to retain the ability to subsist off the lands and waters of the planning area.
  • No right-of-way should be granted to the Ambler Road project on BLM lands.
  • All rivers proposed for wild and scenic designation should be designated as such due to their outstanding, irreplaceable qualities that must be safeguarded from development and pollution. Preferred alternative C2 does not designate these rivers.
  • All D-1 Land Orders within the planning area should remain in place, not lifted.
  • Land management within the Dalton Highway corridor should NOT be turned over to the State of Alaska. The people of this region would lose their federally protected subsistence hunting rights along the corridor if this land management transfer were to take place.
  • No PLO 5150 withdrawals should be lifted on any lands adjacent to a conservation unit. These lands belong to the American public and have increased value given the development that occurs (or is anticipated to occur) near TAPS. Of particular importance are the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge, and Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.
  • All lands designated as having wilderness characteristics should be designated Wilderness and those characteristics should be prioritized over all other uses. People, wildlife, and ecosystems rely on these wilderness characteristics remaining intact. Tribes must be consulted in this regard to ensure their cultural and subsistence rights are maintained

 

 

Please be in touch with Laramie Maxwell at laramiemaxwell@gmail.com with any questions regarding the Central Yukon Resource Management Plan.

 

Northern Alaska Environmental Center

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