ANCHORAGE -- The Federal Subsistence Board is seeking public comments through Oct. 27, 2006 on a proposed rule that would change the rural or nonrural status of several Alaska communities and areas. The Board will make a decision on a final rule in December 2006.
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act requires that rural Alaskans be given a priority for subsistence uses of fish and wildlife on Federal public lands. Only residents of rural communities and areas are eligible for this subsistence priority. The Board initially determined which Alaska communities were rural when the Federal Subsistence Management Program began in 1990. Federal subsistence regulations require that rural/nonrural status be reviewed every 10 years, beginning with the availability of the 2000 census data. An initial staff review, completed in July 2005, recommended that the rural/nonrural status of most Alaska communities should remain unchanged for the proposed rule. However, comments are sought on the following proposed changes:
Adak would change from nonrural to rural. Adak has undergone substantial change that warrants a change in status. Specifically, the population of Adak decreased by 94% from 1990 to 2000, bringing it well below the presumptive rural 2,500 population threshold. It is an extremely remote island community accessible only by boat or plane.
Prudhoe Bay would change from rural to nonrural. The Board has come to the preliminary conclusion that Prudhoe Bay is an industrial enclave built for the sole purpose of extracting oil, with no permanent residents and none of the characteristics typical of a rural community.
Point MacKenzie would be grouped with the nonrural Wasilla area and would change from rural to nonrural. Available information suggests that Point MacKenzie is economically, socially and communally integrated with the Wasilla area. Point MacKenzie is in proximity and road accessible to the Wasilla area, its students attend Wasilla High school and 50 percent of Point MacKenzie workers commute to the Wasilla area for employment.
Fritz Creek East (not including Voznesenka) and the North Fork Road area would be grouped with the nonrural Homer area and would change from rural to nonrural. Available information suggests that these areas are economically, socially and communally integrated with the Homer area. They are in proximity and road-connected with Homer, more than 40 percent of workers commute to the Homer area and most students from these areas attend Homer High School.
The nonrural Ketchikan area would be expanded to include all those living on the road system connected to the City of Ketchikan (except Saxman), as well as Pennock Island, and parts of Gravina Island and the entire area would be considered nonrural. However, Saxman would remain separate and rural. With the exception of Saxman, the Board has come to the preliminary conclusion that these areas are economically, socially and communally integrated with the Ketchikan area. In addition, the population of the Ketchikan area, excluding Saxman, is 12,720, which is well above the population threshold in Federal subsistence regulations of 7,000 at which a community or area is presumed to be nonrural.
The Kodiak area, including the City of Kodiak, the Mill Bay area, the Coast Guard Station, Women's Bay and Bells Flats, would be grouped and would change from rural to nonrural. The population of this area is approximately 12,000, well above the population threshold in Federal subsistence regulations of 7,000 at which a community or area is presumed to be nonrural. (Places excluded from this nonrural grouping are Chiniak, Pasagshak, Anton Larsen, Kalsin Bay and Middle Bay, as well as villages and communities on the Kodiak Archipelago not connected by road to the Kodiak area. These places would remain rural.)
The analysis used by the Board in developing the proposed rule can be found under the "Issues in Depth" section of the Federal Subsistence Management Program website at http://alaska.fws.gov/asm/home.html. The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register.
Written comments on this issue will be accepted through Oct. 27, 2006 and can be sent by e-mail to email@example.com, by fax at (907) 786-3898, or by mail to:
Federal Subsistence Board Attn: Theo Matuskowitz
Office of Subsistence Management
3601 C Street, Suite 1030
Anchorage, AK 99503
Federal Subsistence Board members intend to hold public hearings in Kodiak and Ketchikan in the fall. Additional hearings in communities affected may be scheduled as needed. The Board will also be accepting recommendations on this issue from Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils during their fall meetings. In addition, the Board will meet Dec.12-13 at the Egan Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage to hear public comment and to draft a final rule.
For additional information, please contact Maureen Clark or Larry Buklis with the Federal Office of Subsistence Management at (800) 478-1456 or (907) 786-3888.