August 20, 2021

Bureau of Land Management
Attention: Eric Yeager
Eastern Interior Field Office
222 University Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99709

Via email to [email protected]

Re: Eastern Interior White Mountains and Steese Travel Management Area Draft Travel Management Plans and Environmental Assessments, DOI-BLM-AK-F020-2019-0015-EA

Dear Mr. Yeager:

The Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. (RDC) is writing to comment on the Draft Travel Management Plans (TMPs) and Draft Environmental Assessments (EAs) for the Eastern Interior White Mountains Travel Management Area (TMA) and the Steese TMA.

RDC is a statewide trade association comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s fishing, forestry, mining, oil and gas, and tourism industries. RDC’s membership includes Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.

One of RDC’s priorities is to advocate for increased access to and across public lands for resource and community development, as well as for multiple use of public lands. In the Steese and White Mountains TMPs, RDC believes the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) must ensure its goals for travel management and lands are balanced with the need for multiple uses and access to non-federally owned lands. The management decisions to be made by BLM in these TMPs could have significant implications for the ability for nearby land owners to have access to their lands. For example, these decisions may result in the inability of Alaska Native corporations, and their Alaska Native shareholders, to enjoy the benefit of their land selections per the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The present and potential uses of certain lands will be influenced by the final TMPs and that must be meaningfully considered as part of the planning process. 

BLM must consider the ongoing, planned, and future development of mineral and other resources by land owners in the region. Moreover, because of the landownership pattern in the region, many remote communities in the region, by necessity, rely on access to and use of public lands and of waterways for food, fuel, supplies, and transportation. These uses as well must be given meaningful consideration in the Steese and White Mountains TMPs, in the overall context of multiple use-sustained yield management.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.

Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.