Bristol Bay DRMP/EIS

November 07, 2006

Dear Mr. Fullmer:

The purpose of this email is to offer the comments of the Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) on the Bay DRMP/EIS. AQRC is a nonprofit, state-wide organization which is dedicated to protecting the rights of Alaskans to quiet places for the benefit of home and cabin owners, communities, public land users, businesses, wildlife, visitors and future generations. We seek a fair and balanced allocation of Alaska’s public lands for both non-motorized and motorized uses.

The draft plan indicates that there is little OHV use in the planning area; that terrain and distance require access to be made by boat or plane. While the Bay planning area appears to lack the usual user conflicts prevalent throughout other parts of the state, we believe the wholesale opening of the area to mineral exploration and extraction will create multiple conflicts: with the caribou and moose, subsistence users and uses, and scenic and wilderness characteristics. We believe the emphasis on resource development will result in substantial increases in OHV use, regardless of the suitability of the terrain, and consequent environmental damage.

We strongly support the designation of “limited” for OHV use in both Alternatives C and D for unencumbered BLM lands as a prudent management decision, particularly in view of the above. We do not believe, however, that using the state’s “Generally Allowed Uses” policy to guide BLM, will result in significant regulation of OHVs unless and until trails are identified and marked and there is routine, systematic and very public enforcement in place.

Alternative C proposes the creation of two ACECs and three WSR segment designations. Mineral exploration would be prohibited in the ACECs and the 17(d)(1) withdrawals would be maintained for the three WSR segments. We strongly support this alternative for the protection given the caribou and for creating some areas within the Bay planning jurisdiction which can be managed for values other than resource development.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.

Susan Olsen, Board Member
Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition