The Department of Natural Resources has officially begun the process of revising the Bristol Bay Area Plan. The Bristol Bay Advisory Group discussed the plan at their second meeting on September 24.
At the second meeting of the Bristol Bay Advisory Group on Monday, DNR Commissioner Andy Mack read out his memo to the Division of Mining, Land, and Water.
“I hereby direct the Resource, Assessment, and Development Section (RADS) to begin the necessary review of documents and to undertake pre-scoping and planning activities essential for the formal opening of the Bristol Bay Area Plan," the memo begins.
Pre-scoping is meant to inform communities about the BBAP. It will be followed by public scoping meetings. The goal is to determine which issues DNR and the advisory group should consider when revising the area plan.
In the past, the BBAP included land use designations and management guidelines, including management of mineral development in the area. The state adopted the first area plan in 1984, which it revised in 2005 and 2013. Now, according to Mack, the public will help inform the revision.
“Bristol Bay is in the public eye, BBAG is in the public eye. Everything’s going to be published. And the scoping process is now necessarily going to be in the public eye. So, it’s got a different feel to it from the DNR’s perspective than what we would normally experience,” he said.
After scoping is completed, the DNR will publish a public review draft, which could take more than two years to complete.
In 2017, five local organizations submitted a Citizens’ Alternative plan to the DNR, recommending changes to the BBAP. At Monday’s meeting, BBNA Director of Natural Resources Gayla Hoseth suggested it be used as a template for future revisions.
Other priorities brought forward at Monday’s meeting included mineral orders and subsistence and habitat classifications. Brad Angasan, the Vice President of Corporate Affairs for the Alaska Peninsula Corporation, urged the group to consider the plan’s potential impact on communities. He specifically referenced those under the APC, which is a village corporation.
“I know that land outside of state land is excluded, but there are impacts that we need to consider," Angasan said. "Our plan, whatever we come up with at the end, will impact my communities. I think that’s a big responsibility, to be aware that we’re going to impact a lot of people. And in my case, not so much a lot of people, but a remaining people.”
The Bristol Bay Advisory Group can suggest changes and provide input during the development of the BBAP, although the DNR is not required to act on those suggestions.
The group plans to review the revisions from 2005 and 2013 at the next meeting. The area plan currently guides the authorization of activities on approximately 18 million acres of state lands.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-842-5281.