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DNR adopts Yukon Tanana Area Plan revision

(Anchorage, AK)—Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash on Friday, Jan. 3 signed and adopted the Yukon Tanana Area Plan, which encompasses more than 16 million acres of land in areas south, west and north of Fairbanks. The new plan reflects changes in state area planning boundaries, land-use patterns, land ownership and new resource information. Area plans typically are revised every 15 to 20 years to account for such changes.

“This area plan will help DNR in its decision making and will support development on state lands while providing protection to important wildlife and fish habitat,” Commissioner Balash said.

DNR conducted public scoping meetings in 2009 to launch the planning process. In 2012, DNR issued a draft plan and then sought additional public input on subsequent revisions to the draft plan. Over the four-year period, DNR conducted 16 public meetings in eight communities in the region.

The plan updates land-use classifications for the western portions of the 1991 Tanana Basin Area Plan, which has since been split into two plans due to the immense size of the original planning area. It also creates classifications for lands north of Livengood – to the Yukon River and west to Tanana – conveyed to the State of Alaska since 1991. DNR is revising the eastern portion of the 1991 plan in its forthcoming Eastern Tanana Basin Area Plan, and expects to host public meetings on a draft plan as early as summer 2014.

The revised land-use classifications in the Yukon Tanana Area Plan primarily focus on state owned or selected lands that are not in a state forest, wildlife refuge, or public use area. For example, the plan changes classifications for more than 9,000 acres of state land to make it possible for those lands to be conveyed to the Denali Borough to fulfill its municipal entitlement. The plan also clarifies management intent and guidelines for use of state lands in the planning area.

Overall, the plan classifies roughly 620,000 acres of land for settlement, 195,000 acres for agriculture, 360,000 acres for forestry, 1.3 million acres for minerals, 2.4 million acres for resource management (a multiple-use designation that doesn’t prioritize a specific land use), and 4 million acres for habitat protection, public recreation, and water supply/wetland protection. DNR made several revisions to the plan based on public input – for example, DNR reduced the size of some proposed settlement and agriculture classifications and it reclassified some additional lands for habitat.

To read the plan as well as the list of approved changes, issue response summary, maps and other documents, go to http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/planning/areaplans/ytap/. The plan adoption is a final decision and is subject to a 20-day reconsideration period. Requests for reconsideration must be received within 20 days of January 3, 2014.

Alaska Department of Natural Resources

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