Alaska Miners Association to protest BLM plan for Eastern Interio

The Alaska Miners Association will protest a proposed Bureau of Land Management plan for the Eastern Interior. The recently released plan covering 6.5 million acres includes environmental protections that would ban new mining on over a million federal acres, including 2 areas in the mineral rich Forty Mile region. A.M.A. executive director Deantha Crocket said multiple use should be more prioritized in the plan.

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“This isn’t just wildlife. This isn’t just a recreational area,” Crocket said. “There’s very promising mineral potential in the area that needs to be considered, and not just deemed an exclusive use that will conflict with any other use there.”

The AMA was one of numerous stakeholders that provided input during the BLM plan’s 8 year development, and the resulting proposal also includes a recommendation that one point 7 million acres be opened to new mining claims, much of it in the Forty Mile district. That hinges on approval by the U.S. Interior Secretary, and Crocket said she’s suspect.

“BLM has made commentary that they tried to strike a balance between conservation and mineral development. But when you get into the specifics of what land was ‘open for development’, it’s not actually open. It was recommended for development and has been on the desk of the Secretary of the Interior for over 5 years now.”

Crocket said the AMA does not have a great deal of faith that new lands will be opened to mining. She added that a 30 day protest period for the BLM’s Eastern Interior Management Plan, is happening while miners are in the field, some out of reach of easy communication. Senator Lisa Murkowksi wrote the BLM last week urging the agency to extend the protest period to 120 days in total and establish a supplemental protest period during October ###