2016 Triumphs, Challenges: The Year in Review
Success Builds Resilience for the Year to Come
The year ended with the election of a president-elect who vowed to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency and remove many environmental protections. For Trustees, that means facing a host of new challenges in protecting wildlands and the voice of communities. But first we want to celebrate our successes and thank our donors and supporters, who provide Trustees with the resources for protecting and defending Alaska’s lands, waters, wildlife and communities. You make the Trustees team stronger!
Trustees for Alaska defended First Amendment rights when more than 60 Alaska groups and individuals worked to safeguard Bristol Bay. A Federal judge tossed out Pebble Limited Partnership’s attempts to access the private communications of Pebble Mine opponents. The decision affirmed the right of individuals to participate in government decision-making without being pulled into court.
Trustees for Alaska represented 13 conservation groups in the Ninth Circuit as amici curiae, or friends of the court, to defend the National Park Service’s regulatory authority over navigable waters in National Parks and Preserves in Alaska. The case stems from the use of a hovercraft within the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve and the ensuing challenge to a long-standing prohibition of such use.
The U.S. District Court reaffirmed that coal mining cannot be conducted under decades-old, stale permits. The latest ruling joined an earlier one in countering the Office of Surface Mining’s (OSM) conclusion that a coal mining permit could be renewed for many years, despite no mining ever taking place in the area and significant changes to the surrounding environment and communities.
After thousands of Alaskans spoke out for the conservation of Alaska’s wildlands, the Bureau of Land Management included important protections for natural areas and cultural values in its Eastern Interior region management plan. Trustees has worked on BLM land management issues for over a decade through its work with conservation and tribal groups in revising plans throughout the state.
Governor Bill Walker axed the Knik Arm project budget last summer, putting an end to a 13-year-old effort to build the bridge to nowhere. Trustees for Alaska spent over a decade tracking the permitting process, submitting comments, and working closely with Friends of Government Hill, the former Alaska Transportation Priorities Projects, and individuals opposed to the bridge.
Four federal agencies initially rejected the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority’s (AIDEA) application for the 220-mile Road to Ambler last January. After submitting additional materials, however, AIDEA was able to convince the federal agencies to allow the process to moved forward. Trustees will continue to work with a broad coalition of individuals, tribes, and local and community groups to protect the fish, wildlife, and wild lands of the Southern Brooks Range.