BLM releases draft supplemental environmental impact statement

Tanana Chiefs Conference says it’s “inadequate”
Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 4:55 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Oct. 13, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed Ambler Road project, which would create a road connecting the Ambler mining district to the Alaska road system.

It’s a controversial project proposal that seeks to build a 211-mile road from milepost 161 of the Dalton Highway. The road is being proposed by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority and it’s intended to facilitate the development of at least four large-scale mines. It could also bring in the development of hundreds of smaller mines as well.

SEIS was released after the originally proposal failed to pass in 2020. The 2020 proposal was remanded due to deficiencies in the environmental analysis.

The BLM’s new SEIS includes analysis for 66 communities that will be impacted by the road. It looked at three route alternatives that were included in the original analysis and claims that any other alternate route could significantly restrict subsistence practices.

Along with impacts to people, the report analyzed the potential impacts to caribou and fish populations.

Despite the revised SEIS draft from the BLM, Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) remains in opposition to the road development. In a press release, TCC stated the revised draft does show improvements in the plan, but remains inadequate in its analysis of subsistence and environmental impacts. The press release also said SEIS fails to include a tribal alternative despite requests.

TCC said that development of the road will devastate struggling caribou and salmon populations and increase food insecurity for residents in the area.

The revised SEIS can be viewed here. The public has from Oct. 20 to Dec. 19 to comment on the proposal.