Alaska’s Yukon Flats Refuge land swap for oil and gas.

Conservationists are at odds with the Alaska Native regional corporation Doyon Limited over a land swap in Yukon Flats National Wildlife refuge.

The refuge was established in 1980 under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The Yukon National Wildlife Flats Refuge covers 11 million acres in eastern interior Alaska. The wetlands, river floodplains, and forested lowlands of the refuge support the highest density of breeding ducks in Alaska, along with three species of salmon and hundreds of other birds, mammals, and fish species.

Margaret Bauman has an informative article in the Alaska Journal of Commerce. She reports that a “coalition of environmental groups, led by the Wilderness Society, argues that the land swap between the federal government and the Alaska Native regional corporation Doyon Limited would remove 110,000 acres of critical and irreplaceable wildlife habitat and wilderness from the refuge.”

On January 23 this year, the Wilderness Society in a press release, explained that in 2004 the USFWS and the Doyon corporation reached an initial agreement to trade 110,000 acres of refuge land plus subsurface title to another 97,000 refuge acres for approximately 150,000 acres owned by Doyon. Doyon is interested in exploring and drilling for oil and gas and would likely seek to acquire additional refuge lands for expanded operations in the future.

The Wilderness Society reported that Fran Mauer, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife service biologist, had concerns about the land swap. As the largest and most biologically productive boreal forest wetlands in North America, he felt that the proposed scheme would destroy the integrity of the vast and important ecosystem and set the stage for the development within other conservation areas in Alaska. ” If this land exchange proceeds, nothing will be safe,” he said.

There is currently an EIS examining the proposal and taking comments until March 25.

Update: 12 February, 2008.
This post has been amended to correct some inaccurate information that was included previously. Thanks to Jeff Bebe for bringing this to our attention in his comment to this post.

~ by abstraktbiblos on Monday, 11 February, 2008.

One Response to “Alaska’s Yukon Flats Refuge land swap for oil and gas.”

  1. You seem to have a frail grasp of the facts in regard to this proposed land transfer. Doyon is not an oil company. It is an Alaska Native Corporation owned and operated by Natives. It has many businesses, one of which is oil support. But, by no means is it an “oil company”.

    The “needs and wishes of the native Gwich’in and Koyukon Athabascan people” have been taken into account. They are the ones who own Doyon. The people brought forward by environmental groups are in the minority, otherwise Doyon would not move forward with this proposal.

    It also seems to be lost to you that this is not public land, it is the land of the indigenous people, not the US government.

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