The Ambler Access Project announced the creation of a Subsistence Advisory Committee Working Group, which seeks to better understand subsistence priorities and needs along the proposed route into the Ambler Mining District. The group will make sure that the project — if developed — would coexist with subsistence needs in the region.

“Subsistence is a vital aspect of our lives and we value it with paramount importance,” Co-Chair Fred Bifelt of Huslia said in a news release. However, subsistence now must be balanced with “promoting economic development in our regions for future generations,” Bifelt explained.

The working group will develop policies for a Subsistence Advisory Committee. The committee’s purpose is to ensure that development is conducted responsibly and in such a way that the impacts to subsistence are limited.

“The announcement of a Subsistence Advisory Committee is a success of collaboration between Alaska Native Elders, landowners, tribal leaders, private sectors and [the Alaska Industrial and Development Export Authority]” Alaska Gov. Mike Dunelavy said in a statement.

The group is composed of seven members, including five Alaska Native elders and two representatives from Native Corporations in the area, NANA Regional Corporation and Doyon, Limited. The elder representatives come from Huslia, Kiana, Hughes, Shungnak and Kobuk.

The working group is currently applications for the Subsistence Advisory Committee; the application period closes Nov. 12.

The members and policies of the AAP Subsistence Advisory Committee will be revealed at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in mid-December.

The Ambler Access Road project is the initiative to construct a 211-mile access road through Northwestern Alaska to reach deposits of copper and zinc in the Ambler Mining District. The proposed route runs through the Southern Brooks Range foothills to the district. Exploration efforts are focused primarily on two deposits, the Arctic VMS deposit and the Bornite carbonate replacement deposit.

The area currently lacks transportation infrastructure necessary for mining operations, so companies have thus far been unable to fully tap into one of the largest copper-zinc mineral belts in the world.

According to the Ambler Road Access Project, developing mines in the area would support economic development by creating over 3,000 jobs. However, environmental groups are concerned that building the proposed route would disrupt caribou migration, an important subsistence resource for the region.

Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 907-459-7544 or

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