Protecting the People and Places in the Colville River Delta
Nuiqsut is located on the Colville River Delta, the largest delta on the Arctic Coastal Plain. The Delta is a biological hot spot, teeming with wildlife and fish. Because of its rich habitat, the Iñupiat have relied on it for thousands of years as a traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering place. But that subsistence way of life is in jeopardy, threatened by an ever-expanding oil industry.
The Delta is located in the midst of a vast quantity of oil. Conoco Phillips seeks to expand its drilling operations west of the Delta and into the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska (NPRA). The drilling site, known as Colville Delta 5 (“CD-5”), would require building a 1,400-foot bridge across the westernmost channel in the Delta, the Nigliq Channel, and constructing a road through key subsistence areas into the NPRA. The bridge and road would allow a potentially endless stream of heavy vehicle traffic back and forth and encourage further development through this important area.
The impact of the construction and traffic on the wildlife in the area could be disastrous. The residents of Nuiqsut are largely subsistence hunters who rely heavily on the area for hunting, fishing, and access to other subsistence resources. CD-5 directly threatens their way of life.
Five residents of Nuiqsut are standing up for their rights in federal court, challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider all of the potential impacts of this project. Trustees for Alaska represents these individuals because oil development threatens their subsistence way of life and the rich habitat of the Delta.
In a time when the world needs to kick its oil habit, we cannot sit idly by while industry tramples the rights of local communities, forever destroying some of the most biologically rich places we have left.
Trustees for Alaska will stand with Nuiqsut for as long as it takes.
TL;DR The Colville River Delta subsistence way of life is in jeopardy, threatened by an ever-expanding oil industry.