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Central Yukon Region to Get a New Resource Management Plan

Fairbanks, AK - The Bureau of Land Management is developing a new resource management plan for the Central Yukon Region.  The plan will apply to more than 16 million acres.

Resource Management Plans line out multiple uses for land managed by the BLM for roughly 25 years.   Shelly Jacobson is the Field Manager for the agency’s Central Yukon Field Office in Fairbanks.  She says the Central Yukon Region, which includes a stretch of the Dalton Highway, is due for an updated RMP.  “So this is combining two existing land use plans," says Jacobson.  "One for the Utility corridor which was from 1991 and the old central Yukon plan which was from 1989.”

The plan includes federally managed land that stretches from the Yukon River crossing along the Dalton Highway north to Toolik Lake.  It also includes BLM lands west from Fairbanks to Kaltag and south to Healy and Lake Minchumina.  Jeanie Cole is a Planning and Environmental Coordinator with the agency.  She says the RMP incorporates a number of different land uses. “One of the big things we do in the plan is what we call land allocations," says Cole.  "That’s where we say which lands are open or closed to different uses like mineral leasing, we set off highway vehicle designations and we also come up with restrictions on use or stipulations that would protect resources such as fish wildlife and vegetation,” says Cole.

The BLM will also decide whether to designate areas of critical environmental concern to protect historic and cultural resources, plants and wildlife.  The agency is currently in a “scoping period.”  They are trying to find out how people currently use the land. Shelly Jacobson says they have already received a wide variety of public comments regarding mining and closures.  She says there’s at least one land use she hadn’t considered. “We have quite a few hot springs on BLM lands," says Jacobson.  "Some people want to see them open for commercial leasing for spas and other people want them to stay under developed or just sort of underdeveloped or no business uses so that’s one of the things we’ll be including in this plan.” 00:13

The BLM will accept public comments for a final scoping report through January 17th.  It’s likely to be four years before a final RMP is implemented.  Both Jeanie Cole and Shelly Jacobson say a draft plan will be available for public comment sometime next year.