From Renewable Resources Coalition:
Comment here —-
The State of Alaska owns about twelve million acres of land in the Bristol Bay drainages. In Alaska, Area Plans guide state land use decisions such as whether to allow development like the proposed Pebble mine on those state lands. Area plans were put in place to help ensure that State land management decisions achieve sustained use of renewable resources, keep a balance between development and environmental concerns, and protect public access and use to state land and its resources. State agencies take the plan into account when deciding whether or not to approve the use of specified areas of state lands for particular activities or development, and regulators take it into account when considering permits for activities or development that does occur.
The first area plan for Bristol Bay was adopted in 1984. It emphasized protecting fish and wildlife habitat, as well as hunting and fishing.
In 2005 the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) revised the Bristol Bay Area Plan (BBAP). The 2005 plan was drastically different from the 1984 plan. It eliminated nearly all prior classifications of land for habitat and for hunting and fishing and classified land with mineral deposits as solely mineral land. This included the land at the Pebble deposit. Under this plan, mineral development like the proposed Pebble mine does not have to be compatible with habitat or public hunting and fishing, including subsistence.
The 2005 BBAP made mining and mineral exploration the only designated use on 9.4 million acres within Bristol Bay’s drainages – nearly 80% of the state-owned land in the region. This transformed habitat, subsistence, and recreation into “prohibited uses” whenever they conflict with mining or mineral exploration.
Out of concern that the 2005 BBAP did not strike the right balance to protect subsistence and fish and wildlife, six Bristol Bay Tribes and commercial and sport fishing organizations sued the Alaska Department of Natural Resources over the 2005 BBAP changes. To settle this litigation, the State agreed to revise the 2005 Plan. The State’s review and revision process has now begun. The official comment period ends on May 6, 2013.