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Debris Removal at Gates of the Arctic Considered

The National Park Service (NPS) has released for public review an environmental assessment to consider alternatives for authorizing access across Gates of the Arctic National Park for a proposed project to remove abandoned Department of Defense debris from Native lands in the vicinity of Chandler Lake.
The project is funded by the Native American Land Environmental Mitigation Program through a cooperative agreement between the DOD and the village of Anaktuvuk Pass, a federally recognized Alaska Native tribe. The agreement is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The proposed project entails the use of two eight-wheeled Argo all-terrain vehicles and snowmachines to transport equipment, personnel, and debris across Native and NPS lands. The Native lands are contained within the exterior boundary of the park and are essentially enclosed by them. The NPS would issue a right-of-way certificate of access pursuant to ANILCA Section 1110(b) – Access to Inholdings and implementing regulations for access between the project area on Native lands and Anaktuvuk Pass.
The environmental assessment evaluates the effects of three alternatives for addressing access to the inholdings. These alternatives include the no-action alternative, which would not result in access for overland transport across park lands for the mitigation project. This alternative would require the use of aircraft only or access around a much longer and more difficult northern route.
Alternative 2 is the proposal from Anaktuvuk Pass and its contractor, which requests authorization for two Argos to travel across the park during summer for up to four vehicle transits over each of two summers (eight maximum transits) and up to 40 snowmachine transits with sleds to stockpile and haul debris from the work sites to Anaktuvuk Pass, or a maximum of 80 trips over two spring seasons.
Alternative 3 would reduce the number of Argo trips to no more than four transits each summer (no emergency contingency) and removal of all debris by aircraft – no use of snowmachines. The use of aircraft for transporting out debris is comparable to the use of snowmachines. Much of the project funding would go to the air taxi contractor or snowmachine operators. The community wants maximum participation in cleaning up their lands while enjoying a modicum of employment in an area with few employment opportunities.

The comment period for the EA will extend 30 days, beginning May 1, 2013, and ending May
31, 2013. Please send written comments to Greg Dudgeon, Superintendent, 4175 Geist Road,
Fairbanks, AK 99709-3420 or to the attention of Bud Rice, NPS Alaska Regional Office, 240
West 5th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501.
Comments also may be posted at the Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC)
program located on the NPS public comment website at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov
If you have specific questions about the EA or public comment process, please contact Bud Rice,
Environmental Protection Specialist, at (907) 644-3530 or the Park Planner and NEPA Specialist
Jobe Chakuchin at (907) 455-0629. You may request a hard copy of the EA or download the EA
from the NPS Planning Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) web page at:
http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=11&projectID=45085&documentID=53215

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