It's the last week to submit your comments on the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) draft revisions to the 2005 Bristol Bay Area Plan (BBAP). These revisions have been out for public review since January, and DNR representatives have traveled to several villages to explain the proposed changes and answer questions.
In an interview with Pebble Watch, DNR's Bruce Phelps said the meetings were generally well attended, with up to 50 people participating at some meetings. He explained that the proposed revisions to BBAP are not all encompassing - in fact, they are limited just to those specific items DNR agreed to address as a result of litigation over the document.
Phelps also provided detail on what type of public input is most helpful in this process. He noted that people have expressed concern over designations for habitat resource areas and public recreation areas. When making comments, it's most useful for DNR to have specifics about these areas, including delineated maps.
"If we missed a habitat area, we want to know about it," he said. "But we also have to have a justification for the change and an explanation for why it's an important habitat. We need that information as a basis for changing a habitat designation." For example, if a member of the public knows about a specific migration corridor or calving area, it could be outlined on a map and submitted with an explanation describing its importance.
DNR will review all public input that it receives by May 6, 2013, and will finalize the revised 2005 Bristol Bay Area Plan by September 2013. An "issue response summary," detailing DNR's responses to issues raised through the public input process, will be published as well.
What groups are saying about the proposed revisions
Tribal councils of Curyung, Ekwok, Koliganek, Levelock, New Stuyahok and Nondalton, along with the Alaska Independent Fishermen's Marketing Association and Trout Unlimited drafted their own proposed Citizens' Alternative "Bristol Bay Area Plan" because they don't feel the land management revisions DNR proposed in its recent revisions go far enough to restore protections for fish and wildlife habitat and subsistence and recreational uses in the Bristol Bay region. Read the Pebble Watch overview.
In contrast, Alaska's Resource Development Council is encouraging its members to submit comments in support of DNR's proposed revisions, arguing that they are sufficient and that further amendments are not necessary. Read RDC's Action Alert.
Submit your own comments
Bruce Phelps, Section Chief
Alaska Department of Natural Resources
550 W. Seventh Ave., Suite 1050
Anchorage, Alaska 99501-3579
Phone: (907) 269-8534, Fax: (907) 269-8915
About Pebble Watch
Pebble Watch is an impartial, educational and fact-based initiative of the BBNC Land Department to disseminate information regarding the proposed Pebble Mine project to BBNC shareholders and interested parties.