Ever since the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) updated its Bristol Bay Area Plan for land use management in 2005, there has been debate about what should and should not be considered the best use of the land. And as the proposed Pebble Mine became clearer in scope, some Bristol Bay residents became more and more concerned about what the plan's revisions were designed to accomplish.
In 2009, several tribes and entities in the region filed suit against the 2005 plan, which covers some 12.6 million acres of above-ground and 6 million acres of submerged and tideland in the region. An agreement reached with the plaintiffs called for DNR to address errors found in the plan and consider other issues raised by the plaintiffs.
Fast-forward to January: DNR completed this process, releasing the revised plan to the communities in the region for public comment. The response, by-and-large, was negative. One group of citizens came up with its own plan, which contains lots of co-designated lands, habitat designations, and far fewer lands designated for mineral development.
When the state concluded its public comment period, it held a series of meetings in Bristol Bay communities to discuss the plan. Instead, some residents, riled by a now-contentious fight against plans to develop a large-scale gold, copper and molybdenum mine in the Bristol Bay watershed, turned out to protest what many saw as an attempt by the state to make it easier to permit mining and disregard other uses, like subsistence hunting and fishing upon which many depend.
Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>