BLM is moving forward on proposed Ambler Road project

The Bureau of Land Management is taking the lead on an environmental review of the state proposed Ambler Road. The controversial project would punch an industrial access road from the Dalton Highway west to the Ambler Mining district. The proposed 211-mile road already faces substantial opposition from many area residents.

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BLM Central Yukon Field Office manager Tim LaMarr said his agency is charged with looking at a full range of issues in drafting an environmental impact statement.

”That can range from what you think of natural resource issues to economic and socioeconomic benefits or concerns,” Lamarr said.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority is shepherding the Ambler Road project for the state, has applied for a right of way to cross a mix of lands, prompting the EIS review. LaMarr said it covers a mix of lands, including Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.

”Approximately 61 percent of the route would pass through state lands, 15 percent would pass through Native corporation lands and the other 24 percent would pass through federal lands,” LaMarr said. “About half of that would be managed by the BLM and the other half by the Park Service.”

LaMarr said 11 scoping meetings are being held in communities along the proposed Ambler road route, as well as Anchorage and Fairbanks, through the end of January. The first meeting is November 13th in the village of Allakaket, a Koyukuk River community which opposes the road. The BLM review schedule calls for a draft EIS to be released in March 2019, followed by another public comment period. The final EIS for the Ambler Road is due out in December 2019, followed by decision on the right of way application, 30 days later

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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