NOAA looks to give up potentially mineral-rich Fairbanks property

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants to relinquish a tract of potentially mineral-rich property north of Fairbanks.

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According to a Bureau of Land Management notice, the over 700-acre plot is part of a much larger area around a NOAA satellite tracking facility off the Steese Highway near Fox. The notice says the land set aside as a buffer from external radio signal interference, is no longer needed. BLM spokesman Craig McCaa said the acreage is undeveloped forest land, with a few exceptions.

”There are several trails across there and some of those trails go quite far back in Fairbanks history,” NcCaa said. “And there’s a power line right away and more recently, Fort Knox Gold Mining Inc., the operator of Fort Knox, has been conducting exploratory drilling up there.”

McCaa said BLM issued permits to Fort Know to explore the land for gold in recent years. The property is adjacent to where the company operates a massive open pit mine. Department of Natural Resources deputy Director of the Division of Mining, Land and Water Marty Parsons said the property has development potential.

”The state does have what’s called a top filing on this land, and since there are some potential mining claims there, assuming that there’s a mineral potential, then the state would request those lands to be conveyed to it as part of its land entitlement,” Parsons said.

Parsons said no development would be considered until the lands values and uses are understood. The BLM’s McCaa said the agency is taking public comment on the proposal.

”And that’s what we’re particularly interested in the public heping us out with,” McCaa said. “How they use it, what they know is up there and any particular issues we need to be concerned about. Any public safety hazards, any environmental contamination.”

The agency is accepting comments through June 1st.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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