From Anchorage Daily News – Group Proposes Own Plan for Bristol Bay
By BECKY BOHRER — Associated Press
JUNEAU, ALASKA — Tribes and conservation interests are proposing their own land-use plan for the Bristol Bay region.
The so-called draft “Citizens’ Alternative” was delivered to the state Department of Natural Resources Monday.
DNR in January proposed changes to the plan that it said would substantially increase the amount of land classified as wildlife habitat. This stemmed from a lawsuit over a 2005 land-use plan that tribes, Trout Unlimited and fishermen argued eliminated over 90 percent of prior inland habitat classifications in the region, with a tilt toward mining. The case was settled, with DNR agreeing to take another look at the plan.
DNR said its proposal, among other things, would increase the lands classified for wildlife habitat and public recreation by about 720,000 acres and revise the management intent for 1.3 million acres classified for “resource management” to include management of wildlife habitat and sensitive fisheries.
But the plaintiffs say the proposal doesn’t go far enough.
Tim Bristol, Alaska director for Trout Unlimited, said the proposal is a “mining plan that shoehorns in protections for fish and wildlife, subsistence, tourism, recreation, all those other things.”
“It was a long way back for DNR” on adding protections for habitat “and they fell far short,” he said, adding: “What we’re hoping to do is everything we possibly can to convince DNR to make improvements to it (the draft), very significant improvements.”
The alternative plan would increase the acreage classified as habitat and public recreation land and add a classification for subsistence land use. It also calls for cooperative land-use planning among the major land-owners in the region, including the state, federal government, Native village corporations and Bristol Bay Native Corp.
DNR plans public meetings to solicit comments on its proposed changes from communities in the region, beginning next Monday, said Marty Parsons, deputy director of the Division of Mining, Land and Water. He said the comment period also is being extended, to May 6.
Parsons declined to comment on the criticism of DNR’s proposal, saying he’d prefer to let the comment period close before getting too far into analyzing what is being said.
Bristol said the plaintiff groups held their own meetings in the region to gather input for what they’re calling their plan, which was being submitted as part of the public comment process on DNR’s draft.
He called the amount of energy and work that’s gone into the alternative “unprecedented” in his experience, with work beginning after settlement in the case was announced last year.
Follow Becky Bohrer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/beckybohrerap.
DNR Bristol Bay plan amendment: http://1.usa.gov/XlaDtN
Trout Unlimited Save Bristol Bay page: http://bit.ly/WRY3r1