The scoping phase for the Copper River Basin Area Plan concluded on April 29, 2016. A total of 86 comments were received by the Department and have been processed by the planning team. Various issues were raised and the public's response was robust. A discussion of these comments can be found in the Planning Update #2.
Work on the Copper River Basin has been suspended due to staff changes and other planning priorities within the Department. Currently, we estimate the delay could be up to one year. Please check this planning website periodically for updates on this process.
The Copper River Basin planning area, 15.9 million acres of land, is located in the eastern portion of southcentral Alaska. It is comprised mostly of rugged and mountainous landscape with large glaciers, wild and scenic rivers, and expansive boreal forests. The majority of this land is under federal ownership and is managed by the National Park Service or Bureau of Land Management. It hosts robust populations of caribou, Dall sheep, mountain goat, moose, bear and various fur-bearing mammals. The Copper River and its tributaries are natal waters for one of the world's most productive salmon fisheries. Evidence of human habitation of this area has been determined to be several thousand years old and is still home to many native Alaskans. This area contains several mining districts, some dating back to the 19th century when prospectors first discovered rich gold, silver, copper and lead deposits. A portion of the Trans Alaska Pipeline runs through the planning area before reaching its terminus in Valdez, just southeast of the plan boundary.
The Copper River Basin Area Plan (CRBAP) addresses the management of approximately 3.3 million acres of state lands. Native corporations within the planning area are entitled to approximately 1.8 million acres of land. Numerous small tracts of privately owned land, particularly near Glennallen, Copper Center, and Kenny Lake, exist within the area, and the University of Alaska also manages several small tracts of land near Glennallen and McCarthy.
A robust public involvement process will be employed to seek input from the public, regional and local Alaska Native corporations, industry representatives, and other stakeholders. The plan will increase permitting efficiency and predictability for the public.
Why Plan for Public Land?
The Copper River Basin is rich in natural resources, and there are many different ideas as to how these natural resources should be used. Although some uses are in direct conflict with each other, different uses can occur on the same piece of land provided the uses are properly managed.
The planning process provides a means for openly reviewing all resource information and public concerns before long-range decisions are made on state land-use issues. The planning process also resolves conflicting ideas on land use and lets the public know what choices were made and why.
Preparation of land use plans for state lands is required under Title 38 of the Alaska Statutes. State agencies that are responsible for implementing the plan use a variety of methods such as permits, leases, land sales, or negotiated agreements with adjacent land owners to manage the land and its resources. Actions of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be based on the approved area plan.
This final plan describes the intended uses of state lands. The plan contains recommendations on which tracts of land should be retained by the state, sold to private citizens, or exchanged for other tracts of land. In addition, the plan includes a process to identify how the plan will be revised and updated. Maps and legal descriptions are used to clarify the plan.
Planning Process and Management Structure
The planning process was designed to ensure full participation by the public and government agencies; to provide opportunities for review and revision of the plan; and to include consideration of a wide variety of ideas. The outline of the planning process is provided below.
STEP 1 - Identify Issues - Completed Spring/Summer 2016
Hold public meetings to identify issues and concerns in the planning area.
STEP 2 - Gather Information - Occurs Throughout Process
Collect information about natural resources, present and past land use, land ownership, and the local economy. A great deal of this is done in the beginning, but it occurs throughout the planning process.
STEP 3 - Prepare and Evaluate Land Use Alternative - Current Process
Describe possible choices for managing state land based on public interests, local resources, and state policies. Describe the effects of each choice on goals for the management of an area.
STEP 4 - Prepare Draft Plan
Create a draft plan that reflects resource values and public and agency goals. The agencies review the first draft and settle any land use conflicts that remain, or propose the best alternatives for public review.
STEP 5 - Public Review of Draft Plan
Hold public meetings to provide the public an opportunity to comment on the draft plan and to identify parts that need to be changed.
STEP 6 - Prepare Final Plan
Review agency and public comments and revise the plan. Prepare the plan for publication.
STEP 7 - Approve Plan
The Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources approves and signs the plan.
STEP 8 - Implement Plan
The plan guides management decisions for state lands in the planning area.
For additional information on the planning process contact:
Brandon McCutcheon, Charles Pinckney or Tyler Fanning
Department of Natural Resources
550 W. 7th Ave., Suite 1050
Anchorage, Alaska 99501-3579
Phone: (907) 269-8534