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October Advocacy Report: when we know, we can act.

by David Raskin, Friends Board President

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The Budget Reconciliation bill includes repeal of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and gas program and a buy-back of all existing leases. However, the reconciliation bill has been delayed due to negotiations with conservative senators and representatives over their objections about its size and timing and is expected to be taken up by the full House later this month. 
 
Extensive comments on the Notice of Intent of scoping for the Supplemental EIS (SEIS) were prepared by many organizations and experts and were organized and submitted by Trustees for Alaska. Friends and more than 20 other organizations signed on to the comments. The scoping report by the BLM is expected by the end of the year.
 
The threat to the Coastal Plain concerning the SF 299 application by Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation (KIC) for a winter right-of-way across the tundra in a wilderness study area continues. The USFWS reviewed their application and determined that KIC will need to provide additional information to complete their application. There will be a 30-day review period of an updated application. The significance of this effort by KIC is related to the Izembek application for a similar inholding right-of-way. Both claims of a surrounded inholding without access ignore the facts that Kaktovik and King Cove have marine access and other options. If these questionable gambits succeed, it will make that process available for similar claims in other refuges and possibly in national parks and all federal conservation units. That would be a disaster for all national conservation lands.
 
The contractor’s evaluation of the Kaktovik claim of historical vehicle use for subsistence activities in the Arctic Refuge tundra, including Wilderness study areas, is progressing and should be completed sometime in December. The decision will be made by the Arctic Refuge Manager.


Izembek National Wildlife Refuge
There has been no word from the Court since oral arguments were held before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on August 4 concerning the defendants’ appeal of our second successful lawsuit that stopped the illegal land transfer for the proposed road. However, on September 6, Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that Secretary of the Interior Haaland postponed her trip due to concerns about the high level of COVID-19 infections in Alaska, but we have not heard how this latest development might influence the Court’s decision regarding a possible stay of the proceedings. In the meantime, the State has appealed the decision by USFWS that denied the use of helicopters for the Special Use Permits for activities in designated Wilderness. The final decision will be made by the USFWS Acting Regional Director in Anchorage. We expect that the appeal will be denied. 

Other Refuges
We have no significant updates on Kenai refuge regulations, Yukon Flats refuge oil exploration in Doyon inholdings, the Mulchatna caribou herd and possible predator control in Yukon Delta and Togiak refuges, and the BLM Central Yukon Plan

Sturgeon Decision
We are unaware of further action following the Supreme Court decision in Sturgeon v. Frost, 139 S. Ct. (1066) 2019. Based on this ruling and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) Sec. 103, the State of Alaska asserted primary jurisdiction over navigable waters on federal lands in Alaska.







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Tuesday October 19, 2021, 5pm AKDT

From Caribou Corrals to Seaplane Hangars: A Cultural Resources Overview of Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges

 Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 5-6pm (AKDT) 
Jeremy Karchut,
Regional Archaeologist/Regional Historic Preservation Officer USFWS, Alaska Region

Webinar Recording 

Join us to discover the rich cultural and historic legacy of Alaska’s Refuges.  Jeremy Karchut will provide an overview of the refuges’ vast array of cultural resources representing 14,000 years of human history.  Sites range from those associated with the earliest humans to set foot in North America to mid-20th century aircraft hangars. Prehistoric archaeological sites in the Arctic, rock art on the Kodiak coast, historic cabins on the Kenai Peninsula, WWII battlefield sites in the Aleutians, and historic Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) facilities critical to the agency’s Alaska mission are some of the cultural resources to be highlighted in this talk.

The FWS recognizes cultural resources as fragile, irreplaceable assets with potential public and scientific uses, representing an important and integral part of the heritage of our Nation and descendant communities. It is FWS policy to identify, protect, and manage cultural resources located on refuge lands.  Jeremy will consider some of the challenges and rewards of managing these nonrenewable resources in an era of rapid environmental change and include highlights of key federal historic preservation legislation.

B-24D Liberator Bomber that crashed in 1942 on Atka Island, in what is now part of the Alaska Maritime NWR. Photo by Steve Hillebrand, USFWS.

Jeremy is the FWS Regional Archaeologist in Anchorage.  He is interested in high altitude and high latitude archaeology and for more than 20 years he’s been involved with projects focusing on the effects of climate change on archaeological resources and what archaeology can teach us about how humans adapted to environmental change in the past. Jeremy is a native of Colorado, having earned a BA in Anthropology from Fort Lewis College, Durango in 1998, and a MA in Archaeology and Ancient History from University of Leicester, UK in 2003. He has served as a federal archaeologist since 1995, including with the US Forest Service and the National Park Service in the US Southwest, Central and Southern Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, and 12 years in Alaska.



This presentation was recorded; view below.






 




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2021 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival Recap

Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge co-sponsored the 29th Annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer, Alaska, May 6-9, 2021.

Festival Coordinator’s Wrap Up  by Melanie Dufour  

The annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, held on traditional Sugpiaq and Deni’ina lands in Homer, Alaska, happened in 2021 like never before.  It was my first year as Festival Coordinator, we, I especially, learned a lot!  I appreciate all those on the Shorebird Committee who supported me and let me lean on their years of experience.

This year the Festival was a hybrid, holding space for virtual speakers, workshops, and fun activities alongside new and old guided birding excursions, wildlife viewing, and kayaking tours– offered for people of all ages and abilities. The locations of these events ranged from the head of Kachemak Bay to Lake Clark, and along the river and ridges of our community.

And of course, the birds arrived as did the people! At least 17 different species of birds were spotted, including the Ruddy Turnstone which was chosen as this year’s bird of the festival.  

The Festival Artist Oceana Wills, and our community volunteer artists who gave their time painting a 6”x6” canvas for the Art & Adventure Auction, added beauty. Every single tour operator, guide, and organization that partnered with us, as well as the generous donors and businesses in our community, ALL gave so much to ensure a welcoming, safe, and memorable experience that will no doubt draw people back when the shorebirds make their stopover next May. 

This 29th Annual Festival was like no other. We are all looking forward to the 30th Annual Festival to be held May 4th -8th 2022 where along with the ‘feet on a trail, boat on the water explorations, and fun’ of this year, we hope to add sitting together in a room, applauding our speakers, sharing that perfect frame in our binocs– and our smiles!– while still livestreaming all of it across the world. 

The Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges continues to be a great sponsor with continuous support of the Festival and the Coordinator role in this year of transitioning coordinators.  The AK Friends work well in partnership with US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Maritime National WIldlife Refuge. We look forward to many more Festivals to come in the future.

 




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Add your comments! September Advocacy Report

by David Raskin, Friends Board President

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The House Natural Resources Committee marked up their portion of the Budget Reconciliation bill that includes repeal of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and gas program and a buy-back of all existing leases. The language will now be merged into the full reconciliation bill and taken up by the full House. This successful effort was led by the excellent lobbying work by Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ARDC). 
 
The comment period for the Notice of Intent of scoping for the Supplemental EIS (SEIS) is open until October 4
, 2021. BLM is holding six virtual scoping meetings for the SEIS that will take place September 14, 15, and 16. If the reconciliation bill is enacted with the House language that terminates the Arctic drilling leases, this exercise will become moot. 
 
A new threat to the Coastal Plain emerged with an SF 299 application by Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation (KIC) for a winter right-of-way across the tundra in a wilderness study area. KIC claims to be an inholding according to provisions of ANILCA, like the claim made by King Cove for a road through the Izembek Wilderness. KIC had previously been granted an emergency permit to move school modules across the ice in winter, but this request is for an annual permit to move goods and supplies across land each year. Like King Cove, Kaktovik seems not to qualify as an inholding since it has marine access and other alternatives for the proposed uses. The Fish and WIldlife Service (FWS) review of their application must be completed by October 5 to determine the additional information that KIC will need to include to complete the application. 


Izembek National Wildlife Refuge

Oral arguments were held before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on August 4 concerning the defendants’ appeal of our second successful lawsuit that stopped the illegal land transfer for the proposed road. Trustees for Alaska did an outstanding job of arguing our position. During this session, the Court suggested a possible stay of the proceedings until after Secretary of the Interior Haaland’s scheduled September 17 visit to King Cove. The Court was concerned that after her visit, the Secretary might take actions that would effectively resolve the lawsuit and waste the resources of the Court if the proceedings were not stayed. The plaintiffs indicated that we would not oppose a stay of the proceedings, but the Government and the State opposed a stay. However, on September 6, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that Secretary Haaland postponed her trip due to concerns about the high level of Covid-19 infections in Alaska. We have not heard how this latest development might influence the Court’s decision regarding a possible stay of the proceedings.

The Fish and Wildlife Servic (FWS) denied the use of helicopters to access the Izembek Wilderness in special use permits requested by the State Department of Transportation to inventory cultural resources and wetlands for the proposed Isthmus Road. The FWS issued permits that required access by foot, but the State has refused to sign the permits without helicopter access. We are very pleased that there will be no on-the-ground-activity this summer.

Sturgeon Decision
There has been no further action following the Supreme Court decision in Sturgeon v. Frost, 139 S. Ct. (1066) 2019. Based on this ruling and ANILCA Sec. 103, the State of Alaska asserted primary jurisdiction over navigable waters on federal lands in Alaska.

Other Refuges
We have no significant updates on Kenai Refuge regulations, Yukon Flats Refuge oil exploration in Doyon inholdings, the Mulchatna caribou her and possible predator control in Yukon Delta and Togiak Refuges, and the BLM Central Yukon Plan.




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Meetings are BACK! Tuesday September 21, 2021, 5pm AKDT

Surveying the Unknown: Invasive Species in the Northern Refuges

 



Tuesday, September 21, 2021, 5-6pm (AKDT) 
Lisa Dlugolecki,
Fish & Wildlife Service Northern Refuges Invasive Species Program

Webinar details

From weed pulls to gelding feral horses, Friends have been concerned and involved in invasive species on Alaska Refuges.  We continue that involvement with Lisa Dlugolecki sharing her results and thoughts from this summer’s field work surveying several northern wildlife Refuges for invasive species. Refuges in northern Alaska have been traditionally spared from invasive species, but the risk of introduction is increasing. This is especially true for Refuges along or downstream from the road systems. Consistent surveying for invasive species has also been challenging in this region because of the large land mass and unavailability of staff resources. From Kanuti Refuge to Tetlin Refuge, Lisa’s team conducted road surveys looking for invasive plants such as white sweet clover. Some findings included finding white sweet clover growing along the Dalton Highway, but finding none growing on the gravel bars in the surrounding waterways.  Friends volunteered for many years eradicating white sweet clover along the Dalton in the hopes of preventing its spread downstream into the refuges.  Join us on Zoom to hear the latest on what else she discovered and what her thoughts are on the future of invasive species management on northern refuges.


(pc: USFWS)

Lisa Dlugolecki is the “North Region Early Detection Rapid Response Project Manager Alaska” for the Fish and Wildlife Service.  She is based out of Fairbanks. Lisa has worked across the country in wildlife and habitat management.  She began working full time for Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015 in invasive species management and habitat restoration. Before moving to Alaska to continue her work in invasive species management, Lisa worked in Idaho on Endangered Species Act consultations.

 

OR:
Join by phone:

Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 929 205 6099
Webinar ID: 848 4313 9530
Passcode: 018201
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/aBX3IPxrw

Download PowerPoint presentation




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The conservation community speaks. July/August Advocacy Report

by David Raskin, Friends Board President

Appointments to DOI and the USFWS continue to move very slowly through the Senate. We still do not know if/when there will be an appointment of a Special Assistant for Alaska. If these processes drag on for much longer, it may be difficult to achieve important conservation goals for Izembek, Arctic, and other Refuges.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
On June 1, the Department of the Interior suspended all activities related to the implementation of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Secretarial Order 3401 directs the Department to initiate a comprehensive environmental analysis to review the potential impacts of the leasing program and to address legal deficiencies in the current leasing program’s environmental review under NEPA. The Department notified lessees that it has suspended oil and gas leases in the Arctic Refuge, pending the review, to determine whether the leases should be reaffirmed, voided, or subject to additional mitigation measures. However, the review and Draft Environmental Statement to be completed in eight months has been assigned to BLM and the USFWS will not be a full participant. This will make it more difficult to ensure that the mission of the USFWS to protect the Coastal Plain will be fully implemented.

The Arctic Refuge Defense Campaign (ARDC) is monitoring the timing of the upcoming Senate budget reconciliation and whether it will include a cancellation of the leases.  Votes on the Budget Resolution could occur before the August recess.

Conservation CEO meetings with key decision makers continued and included meetings with Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Polosi.  ARDC is developing a paid media campaign in D.C. and target states to ramp up visibility on the Arctic Refuge in anticipation of a possible vote in Late July. Friends made a substantial donation to this. On July 12 in Homer, Friends hosted ARDC Assistant Director, Becca Appel, for a training session on the campaign and what Friends can do to further assist the campaign.

The Arctic Refuge Protection Act continues to gain co-sponsors and is currently at 117 co-sponsors in the House and 30 in the Senate.  ARDC members continue to hold meetings to increase co-sponsorship for the bills.

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge
On June 2, Friends participated in an hour-long special meeting with DOI officials that included, Special Advisor to the Secretary Raina Thiele, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife Shannon Estenoz, Acting FWS Director Martha Williams, and a DOI Assistant Solicitor. The meeting was requested and superbly organized by Defenders of Wildlife Alaska Director Nicole Whittington-Evans. It included presentations by Nicole, Wilderness Society Alaska Director Karlin Itchoak, former Indian Health Services local director Dr. Pete Mjos, NWRA Vice President and Friends Board Member Caroline Brouwer, Former Special Assistant for Alaska to Secretary of Interior Deborah Williams, Defenders of Wildlife Alaska Senior Policy Advisor Patrick Lavin, and me. We presented very detailed descriptions of the history and all major aspects and arguments against the proposed road, which we hope were effective in educating the DOI officials about the problems and need to reject the road.

The Bernhardt memo authorizing the permitting process for the proposed Izembek road was withdrawn July 15, but DOI says that will not preclude field work. The State of Alaska has reduced its applications for summer work to include only wetland delineations and cultural resources to support resubmitting their application under ANILCA Title XI to construct a road through the biological heart of the Izembek Refuge Wilderness. The Alaska Regional Office of FWS denied the State’s plans to use helicopters to access the Izembek Wilderness. They released a compatibility determination with public comments open until August 8.Izembek WR Public Review Opportunity info can be found here.  Activity could begin in August but permitting summer field work does not necessarily indicate a policy decision on the proposed road. The State will have to comply with the Wilderness Act, Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act. In the meantime, we await the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the defendants’ appeal of our second successful lawsuit that stopped the illegal land transfer for the proposed road. We were disappointed that the new administration is continuing this appeal, with oral arguments scheduled for August 4. 


Sturgeon Decision
We have not seen further action following the Supreme Court decision in Sturgeon v. Frost, 139 S. Ct. (1066) 2019 was the announcement by the State of Alaska concerning federal waters on the Kenai Peninsula, including the Kenai NWR. Based on this ruling and ANILCA Sec. 103, the State of Alaska asserted primary jurisdiction over navigable waters on federal lands in Alaska. They can apply for quiet title through the courts or to BLM for a disclaimer of interest. If they succeed, they will be able to manage navigable waterways in refuges and parks that might include many rivers and lakes and wild and scenic rivers. This would require a determination of which are navigable waters, which have never been clearly defined. This creates a frightening potential for access to mining, motorized recreation, and oil and gas development on refuge rivers, lakes, and lands. We will work with DOI and refuge staff to minimize these potential impacts.

Other Refuges
We have no significant updates on Yukon Flats NWR oil exploration in Doyon inholdings, the Mulchatna caribou herd and possible predator control in Yukon Delta and Togiak NWRs, and the BLM Central Yukon Plan.




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Moving forward, slowly. May Advocacy Report

By David Raskin, Friends Board President

Appointments to Department of the Interior (DOI) and the United States Fish and WIldlife Service (USFWS) are moving through the Senate very slowly. It is not clear how long it will take for nominations and confirmations of key personnel, including the Director of USFWS. We are particularly concerned about whether there will be an appointment of a Special Assistant for Alaska. If these processes drag on for too long, it may be difficult to achieve important conservation goals for Izembek, Arctic, and other Refuges.

Sturgeon Decision
The most recent action following the Supreme Court decision in Sturgeon v. Frost, 139 S. Ct. (1066) 2019 was the announcement by the State of Alaska concerning federal waters on the Kenai Peninsula, including the Kenai Refuge. Based on this ruling and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) Sec. 103, the State of Alaska asserted primary jurisdiction over navigable waters on federal lands in Alaska. They can apply for quiet title through the courts or to BLM for a disclaimer of interest. If they succeed, they will be able to manage navigable waterways in refuges and parks that might include many rivers and lakes and wild and scenic rivers. This would require a determination of which are navigable waters, which have never been clearly defined. This creates a frightening potential for access to mining, motorized recreation, and oil and gas development on refuge rivers, lakes, and lands. We need to work with DOI and refuge staff to minimize these potential impacts.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The moratorium on all oil and gas activities in the Arctic Refuge continues under President Biden’s executive order that directs the Interior Department to review the oil-leasing program for the Refuge, and “as appropriate and consistent with applicable law,” to do a new analysis of its potential environmental impacts. The Arctic Refuge Defense Coalition (ARDC) continues to monitor the impacts of President Biden’s Executive Order, including what it means for seismic exploration in the Refuge and the leasing program overall. In the meantime, the 60-day stay in litigation which was to end in mid-April has been extended until June 11. We are waiting for an announcement from BLM that they have denied or not acted upon the seismic application following the Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) not being acted upon. 

The lease holder 88 Energy may be planning to do directional drilling from the adjacent State land on which they hold a lease. The ARDC continues to put pressure on 88 Energy to halt their plans. We will watch for any news on threats to the Refuge.  

The potential damage to the Arctic Refuge by the recent claim by Kaktovik that they have an established right to use off-highway vehicles (OHV) for subsistence hunting in the Refuge is the subject of a year-long study under contract to USFWS to be completed by December 23, 2021. The study is gathering information to determine if there is a factual basis for their claim that there are established traditional uses of OHVs in the Refuge. In the meantime, the solicitor’s opinion issued under the prior administration determined that the Refuge is currently open to OHV uses for subsistence because no formal policy prohibits such uses. We are hopeful that Robert Anderson will be confirmed as DOI Solicitor and will re-examine that decision, which many believe was an incorrect interpretation to allow OHV use in the Refuge.

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge
The Alaska FWS is working on the State of Alaska’s four revised applications to do summer work to support resubmitting their application to construct a road through the biological heart of the Izembek Refuge Wilderness. There is extreme political pressure to approve these permits for wetland delineations, endangered species, and cultural resources. The State plans to use helicopters to access the designated Wilderness, which could complicate the permit process and possibly result in litigation. If the process does proceed, it will likely take at least a year for the required NEPA process. The State also needs a Clean Water Act 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and is seeking other ANILCA temporary permits. There are also National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements and other ANILCA permitting requirements that apply to this process. We hope that the new administration will ultimately rule that this latest assault on the Izembek Wilderness by the State and King Cove is not allowed under ANILCA. In the meantime, we await the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the defendants’ appeal of our second successful lawsuit that stopped the illegal land transfer for the proposed road. We are hopeful that the new administration will abandon the appeal.

Other Refuges
We have no no significant update on oil exploration on Doyon inholdings in the Yukon Flats Refuge, the Mulchatna caribou herd and possible predator control in Yukon Delta and Togiak Refuges, and the BLM Central Yukon Plan.

 

(pc: Becky Hutchinson)




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Summer Pause on Meetings & Newsletters

Membership Meetings & Newsletters   
Our monthly meet-ups and newsletters provide unique opportunities for us all to listen, learn, and speak up about important and fun happenings on Alaska’s 16 Wildlife Refuges.

We’ll be taking a pause for the summer, so look forward to a July/August Newsletter and set a reminder for 9/21/2021 when we’ll all meet again for our membership meeting!

pc: After a long winter of feeding on tree bark, the North American porcupine (Iluqtaq) is on the search for nutrient rich food sources. In addition to fresh leaves and buds, you may notice chew marks from porcupines on antlers, bones, glued plywood and even paint.  What summer meal are you looking forward to?   Photo of porcupine eating fresh green leaves by Moosealope FlickrCC/Selawik NWR




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The conservation community looks forward. April Advocacy Report

  by David Raskin, Friends Board President

Deborah Haaland was confirmed as the first Indigenous Secretary of the Interior. Both Alaska U.S. senators voted for her confirmation. The conservation community looks forward to working with her and her appointments to DOI and the USFWS. We are particularly concerned about the upcoming choice of her Special Assistant for Alaska. This is the letter that Friends sent to Secretary Haaland and key staff concerning her choice and related Izembek issues.

Sturgeon Decision
There have been serious repercussions from the Supreme Court decision in Sturgeon v. Frost, 139 S. Ct.(1066) 2019. Based on this ruling and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) Sec. 103, the State of Alaska asserted primary jurisdiction over navigable waters on federal lands in Alaska. They can apply for quiet title through the courts or to BLM for a disclaimer of interest. If they succeed, they will be able to manage navigable waterways in refuges and parks that might include many rivers and lakes and Wild and Scenic rivers. This would require a determination of which are navigable waters, which have never been clearly defined. This creates a frightening potential for access to mining, motorized recreation, and oil and gas development on refuge rivers, lakes, and lands. We need to work with Department of the Interior (DOI) and refuge staff to minimize these potential impacts.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The moratorium on all oil and gas activities in the Arctic Refuge continues under President Biden’s executive order that directs the Interior Department to review the oil-leasing program for the Refuge, and “as appropriate and consistent with applicable law,” to do a new analysis of its potential environmental impacts. In the meantime, the lawsuits to nullify the lease sales by the conservation community were stayed for 60 days that likely will be extended another 60 days.
 
The lease holder 88 Energy may be planning to do directional drilling from the adjacent State land on which they hold a lease. The Arctic Refuge Defense Campaign is putting pressure on 88 Energy to halt their plans. We will watch for any news on this latest threat to the Refuge.  
 
Meanwhile, the Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation (KIC) application for seismic exploration this winter on their inholding was not granted because it did not meet the February 13 deadline set by USFWS. This resulted from the failure of FWS to act on the required Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) because they ran out of time to analyze the 6 million comments they had received. KIC criticized FWS for delaying the permit process and has reapplied for a permit to conduct seismic exploration next winter. We understand that the IHA is nearly complete and is awaiting guidance from DOI about its issuance. It is related to a possible permit from BLM for seismic exploration next winter.
 
The threat to the Arctic Refuge by the recent claim by Kaktovik that they can use off-highway vehicles (OHV) for subsistence hunting in the Refuge is the subject of a year-long study under contract to USFWS to be completed by December 23, 2021. The study is gathering information to determine if there is a factual basis for their claim that there are established traditional uses of OHVs in the Refuge. In addition, the solicitor’s opinion issued under the prior administration determined that the Refuge is currently open to OHV uses for subsistence because no formal policy prohibits such uses. We are hopeful that recently nominated DOI Solicitor Robert Anderson will re-examine that decision, which many believe was an incorrect interpretation that allows OHV use in the Refuge.

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge
The State of Alaska is working on their revised application to construct a road through the biological heart of the Izembek Refuge Wilderness. The Biden Administration 60-day pause of all FWS permitting processes expires this month, and we are waiting to see how DOI proceeds under Secretary Haaland. If the permit process does proceed, it will likely take at least a year for the required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The State also needs a Clean Water Act 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and is seeking other ANILCA temporary permits for site investigation, including wetland delineations, endangered species, and cultural resources. There are also NEPA requirements and other ANILCA permitting requirements that apply to this process. We hope that the new administration will ultimately halt this latest assault on the Izembek Wilderness by the State and King Cove. In the meantime, we await the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the defendants’ appeal of our second successful lawsuit that stopped the illegal land transfer for the proposed road. We are hopeful that the new administration will abandon the appeal.

Central Yukon Management Plan
The recently released Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Central Yukon Draft Resource Management Plan and Draft EIS affects 56 million acres of public lands, which include 13.1 million acres of BLM-managed lands along the Dalton Highway and Central Yukon areas. Their proposed plan could open up many areas to mining and other developments that would negatively impact wildlife, habitat, and fisheries of many tributaries that flow into the Yukon River and several refuges. Together with the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Friends submitted comments and worked with other organizations that succeeded in having the comment period extended until June 9, 2021 

Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge
Doyon Corporation is working with Hilcorp to develop a plan for exploration and possible drilling on Doyon’s inholdings in the Refuge. They plan to do exploratory drilling on Doyon inholdings but will not need a permit for these activities that will be conducted using helicopters. As of now, Doyon has not requested permits from FWS for activities on Refuge lands. We will be watching this very closely and will explore options to prevent any proposed activities on Refuge lands




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