ALASKA (January 15, 2021)—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is quietly opening millions of acres of Alaska’s public land—known as D1 lands—to future mining projects and oil and gas development. “Tribal leaders, rural Alaska communities, regional recreation businesses, and conservation organizations have repeatedly asked for a fair and transparent public process before removing protections and possibly conveying these lands,” said Natalie Dawson, executive director at Audubon Alaska. “But BLM has systematically refused consultation and ignored the catastrophic effects on these lands to make good on political promises before Trump leaves office.”
On October 28, 2020 Audubon along with other conservation groups, Indigenous government leaders, and rural community members from across the impacted regions asked the agency to stop the conveyance of these federal lands. BLM has not responded to this letter or additional letters submitted by regional tribal governments impacted by the agency’s decision.
D1 lands refers to all unreserved federal lands in Alaska that were withdrawn from mineral entry under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. They include 57 million acres of land from Bristol Bay to the Brooks Range, the Copper River watershed to northern Southeast Alaska. Opening these lands to mining interests, puts these diverse ecosystems, which support major salmon streams, caribous calving grounds, and nationally and internationally recognized Important Bird Areas, at risk. It also threatens communities across the state that rely on these lands and waters for survival. These lands include important migration corridors, and many of the lands are within the boreal forest region of Alaska, which is undergoing significant climate changes with extended droughts causing more fires, and the loss of permafrost changing the region’s wetlands.
Additional Information and Resources:
[Letter to DOI/BLM] October 28, 2020 letter to BLM and DOI
Rebecca Sentner, Audubon Alaska, email@example.com