Kuskokwim tribes object charges in area plan

Orutsaramiut Native Council, in coordination with other Yukon Kuskokwim tribal entities, is continuing its opposition to proposed area plan amendments, which would allow for the Donlin Gold mine and other future development, with no consideration for the region.

The letters were submitted to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources on March 29 as official comments on the proposed Kuskokwim Area Plan Amendments.

The comment period for the proposed amendments to the Kuskokwim Area Plan and an additional 13 related permits ended on March 29 after 60 days, half that of comment periods in other regions.

“We are sovereign tribal governments in the local area covered by the plan and where the supporting facilities and infrastructure would be located,” the letters said. “We have not been given the opportunity to work with the commissioner to develop these proposed amendments or provide input during the process, as required by law.”

ONC said this approach to area plan amendments stands in sharp contrast to others DNR has carried out in other parts of the state. Similar proposed changes to Bristol Bay’s Area Plan proposed in 2013 were subject to a two-year public process. That included several public meetings in eight communities, a 120-day comment period, two separate rounds of draft plans issued to the public, and significant collaboration between different entities including tribes and both state and federal agencies.

In contrast, Kuskokwim Area Plan proposed amendments are distinctly not the result of a robust public process and there have been no opportunities for tribes or the public to be involved aside from a short comment period, ONC said in a statement.


“The fact that DNR seems to think this is a matter of paperwork and not a fundamental shift in policy that will have very tangible impacts on land, food, and culture is short-sighted and dismissive,” said Mary Matthias, ONC natural resources director.