Friday, December 28, 2012

Update on EIS Progress in Proposed Donlin Gold Project
December 28, 2012

Amanda Shearer & Don Kuhle from the US Army Corps of Engineers hosted another teleconference for federally recognized tribes on 12/12/12. 

The big news noted in this call was the Notice of Intent (NOI) publication.  If you remember from the NEPA process post, this is the first official step in kicking off the EIS process.  To view the Notice of Intent, visit the following site:

The NOI was published on December 14, 2014 and this was the kickoff to  the official scoping process – where meetings and information from public and other agencies will be gathered.  Concerns/recommendations will be noted and following the scoping period, alternatives to the project will be suggested based on information gathered from this scoping process.

The USACE is the lead agency on the EIS project, and they have hired an outside company – URS to develop the EIS.  A join URS/USACE website has been developed and is a great way to stay informed on what is going on and how you can be involved.  Visit their page for more information:

The scoping process will last until the end of March – at which point all comments will be compiled and put into the draft EIS.  Remember, this is an important time to make your concerns/comments heard, as they will be addressed in the intial draft phase of the EIS. 


Public scoping meetings will begin and take place as follows:

Monday, January 14, 2013
6:00 p.m.
Yup’iit Piciryarait Cultural Center
Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
6:00 p.m.
Aniak High School
Crooked Creek
Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
6:00 p.m.
Tribal Council Office
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
6:00 p.m.
Wilda Marston Theatre
Further meetings will be scheduled as follows:
January/February 2013
Quinhagak • Kipnuk • Nunapitchuk • Akiak
February 2013
Toksook Bay • Hooper Bay • Emmonak • Saint Mary’s
March 2013
Holy Cross • McGrath

What are your thoughts on the Donlin Gold Project? Do you plan on attending the scoping meeting to voice your concerns/comments?  Comment below to share your thoughts!

Interim Results from BLM Conducted Fish Tissue Study

December 28, 2012

The George River

On December 20, 2012 BLM issued an interim report entitled “Mercury, Arsenic, and Antimony in Aquatic Biota from the Middle Kuskokwim River Region, Alaska, 2010-2011”.

Since 2010, the BLM and ADF&G have collected fish tissue samples from the Kuksokwim River and 17 of its tributaries, covering 730 miles of stream from McGrath to Aniak.  Over 1200 fish from the area were sampled, 570 of which were tagged with radio transmitters. Their movements will continue to be tracked over the next 1-2 years.  The tracking data will show the amount of time fish spend in specifc areas and allow the identification of areas that may contribute to elevated metals in fish within the study area.  

The interim report summarizes results and interpretation of mercury, arsenic, and antimony concentrations in fish and aquatic insects collected.  

In the summary located in the interim report, the following items are noted:

Most sampled fish were those favored by subsistence users, and other fish and insects were sampled to be representative of different places on the food chain.  Salmon were not sampled, due to the fact that they spend a good portion of their lives in the ocean.

Small fish (slimy sculpin, juvenile Dolly Varden and juvenile Arctic grayling) and insects from Red Devil and Cinnabar Creeks had significantly higher mercury concentrations than the same fish from other tributaries.  These levels exceeded “harmful levels” when compared to known harmful levels for fish.

Northern pike, burbot, and Arctic grayling had variable mercury levels across the entire Kuskokwim River area.

Northern pike from the George River had significantly higher mercury concentrations compared to other pike (the upcoming tracking results should give more indication of the reason for this elevation).

Total arsenic and antimony concentrations were higher in fish and insects collected from Red Devil Creek as compared to all other Tributaries.  

Results to date indicate that there is “a measurable and biologically significant elevation of mercury” in fish and insects in Red Devil Creek, and it is noted that similar levels are found near other abandoned mines in the middle Kuskokwim River watershed (Cinnabar Creek, located in the upper Holitna Drainage, on the George River).  

The BLM plans to present results from this study in February at the Alaska Forum on the Environment.  For more information, contact Matt Varner, Fisheries Biologist, at 907-271-3348.  

The Interim report can be found at