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Issues Heating Up as Light Returns: Double your Love for the Susitna!


We are almost one whole month into 2024, and things are busy! There is a lot going on this coming month: an opportunity to double your impact with a gift to SRC, comment periods for the Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Draft Plan and D1 lands, and some great opportunities to learn about the SRC's work. We hope that you are enjoying the return to light, and we are excited to see what the rest of the new year brings.

 

Double Your Watershed Love! 2x Your Gift Through 2/29





The Susitna River Coalition is your locally operated grassroots nonprofit. 


Our small three-person staff and a dedicated, unpaid board are passionate about the Susitna and the experiences, wild spaces, and history of the region. Love of this places has made us invested in the issues that affect it. Not only are we engaging with our community and taking actions to make sure that the Su remains a special place to live in and share, but we, like you, are spending time in these environments that makes the Susitna Watershed such a great place to live. 


As a small, local nonprofit, we are reliant on donations, small and large, to keep our operations running. From now until February 29, a generous donor has offered to match any donation of up to $3000 to the Susitna River Coalition cause. If you have appreciated these newsletters, attended any of our events, or found our tips for testimony helpful Send us a Valentine and make a donation to the cause. 


We work for the Su and we work for you.

 

Upcoming Events

 

Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Draft Plan DNR Open Houses


The Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan has been undergoing a review and revision over the past few years. 


During the first week of 2024, the Department of Natural resources released the draft plan. The draft plan is available on the project webpage. 


The comment period closes March 5, 2024.

We are currently reviewing the document as a team, and will have talking points and changes shared with ample time prior to the comment deadline.


Why Our Community Cares:


This robust and ambitious plan manages six high use waterways (Talkeetna, Little Susitna, Deshka, Alexander Creek, Lake Creek and the Talachulitna) within our watershed. If the plan is to be revised, protections should be maintained and thoughtfully modified for the current era.


To facilitate public review of the Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Draft Plan, public meetings have been scheduled in the communities indicated below and virtually during this comment period. Members of the community are encouraged to attend.


Talkeetna: 


Talkeetna Public Library

24645 Talkeetna Spur Road

Talkeetna, AK 99676


Anchorage:


Robert Atwood Conference Room (104)

Robert B. Atwood Building

550 West 7th Avenue

Anchorage, AK 99501


Virtual:


Virtual Meeting via

Microsoft Teams

(see project webpage at link above for info on how to join)


Wasilla:


Wasilla Library Large Multi-Purpose Room

500 North Crusey Street

Wasilla, AK 99654

 

Visit the Susitna River Coalition at the Willow State Winter Carnival

February 3rd, 2024 from 9AM-5PM


Come learn about what SRC is working on at the Willow State Winter Carnival hosted by WACO (Willow Area Community Organization) on Saturday February 3rd, 2024 from 9am-5pm at the Willow Community Center located at 69 Parks Hwy, Willow, AK 99688. 


We will have a table set up inside the Community Center Lobby. WACO has been hosting this annual quintessential Alaskan winter event for over 60 years - There's a fireworks show, Iditarod qualifying sled dog races, homesteading competitions, $1000 bingo cash pots, talent contests, foot and ski races, entertainment, kids games, a cribbage tournament, and food.


Learn more on our Facebook Event Page.

 

Dena'ina Athabascan History in the Upper Cook Inlet and Susitna Watershed

with Kevin Toothaker from Knik Tribe

February 20th, 2024 at 6PM

Zoom and Facebook Live


Join the SRC on February 20 at 6PM as we welcome Kevin Toothaker from Knik Tribe to talk about the rich history of the Dena'ina Athabascan in the Upper Cook Inlet and Susitna Drainage. 


In late 2019, Knik Tribe was awarded a Cultural Exchange Grant from the Administration of Native Americans to do a Youth Cultural Exchange Program with other Cook Inlet Tribes, but the COVID 19 Pandemic prevented travel and made us think of alternative ways to share the Culture and history of the Dena’ina in the Upper Inlet.


This pivot made us realize that many of our neighbors, coworkers, and colleagues truly did not have any idea of the rich history and culture of the Dena’ina in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Known for Caribou? Ice Skating across the inlet from Knik to Eklutna? A village on every salmon bearing stream? A 7’ tall Chief?


This presentation is an effort to share the rich history of the Dena’ina Athabascans of the Upper Inlet with slides about the Dena’ina way of life and the history around Susitna Station, Red Shirt Lake, Kroto Creek Villages.


“The Dena’ina reside here in the Upper Inlet of the Mat-Su Valley, we drive on their old trails, fish in the same streams, hunt where they hunted, and live in the beauty they preserved… Tikatnu”


Kevin Toothaker works for Knik Tribe’s Cultural Preservation Department as a Cultural Exchange Coordinator. He is both a Palmer High School and Mat-Su College Graduate who has raised his family in the Mat-Su Valley.


Register for this event Here and Learn more on the Facebook Event Page.

 

D1 Lands Protections Comment by 2/14/24


D1 Protections were put in place under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). These protections prohibit mineral entry and oil and gas development on designated BLM lands.


In December, BLM released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as to how repealing some or all of these protections on 28 million acres would affect currently designated D1 Lands. 


The EIS comment period is open until February 14th, 2024. See thBLM Websitefor instructions on how to participate and comment electronically or by mail. See this Tips for Testimony Sheet for ideas on testifying and submitting comments.


You can also utilize this link for quick commenting purposes. 


There is one virtual opportunity to speak up for these lands at a BLM Hosted Meeting. This statewide BLM hearing will be held virtually on zoom on Monday, January 29th from 5:30 -7:30pm. When testifying please share your personal story to fishing, hunting and public lands and ask the BLM to choose the no action alternative.


Why our Community Cares:


With many acres of D1 designated lands existing within our watershed-- including land near the proposed Susitna-Watana Dam Site and West Susitna Industrial Corridor-- the SRC is concerned about the repercussions of lifting protections on intact fish and wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing access. We are in favor of No Action. 


 

ACEP Decarbonization Report: 2024

 



A new ACEP (Alaska Center for Energy and Power) report studying various pathways for the Railbelt electric grid (from Homer to Fairbanks) to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050 was released on January 18th. The four energy generation scenarios evaluated for reliability and affordability were: 1. Business as Usual (projected load growth without a significant increase of alternative energy) 2. Wind/Solar/Hydro 3. Wind/Solar/Tidal 4. Wind/Solar/Nuclear. The hydro scenario includes the proposed Susitna Watana Hydro (Su Dam) project as a major source of power and is projected to cost $11.8 billion - the most expensive option out of the scenarios. The tidal scenario would cost $8 billion, about 2/3 the cost of the Su Dam scenario.


All of the scenarios include wind and solar. “One takeaway is that wind and solar are the cheapest sources of energy on the system,” said Jeremy VanderMeer, a research assistant, during ACEP’s presentation to the Senate Resources committee on January 19th. While ACEP’s report calls the scenarios low-carbon, Dam reservoirs are not carbon-neutral. Large dams emit methane, a harmful fossil-fuel gas 30 times more potent than carbon in warming the atmosphere. Senator Click Bishop asked, “what megawatt did you use” for the Dam? To which ACEP researcher Steve Colt answers “475 megawatts, but the output would vary with water conditions.” Water availability fluctuates more frequently and unpredictably with a rapidly changing climate, and a mega dam this size and scale is undoubtedly unreliable, risky and unsafe.


Why Our Community Cares:


With historical federal funding and tax credits coming in, we need to ensure that meaningful investments in cleaner energy systems are both economically and environmentally responsible. The Su Dam is not the solution to reach railbelt renewable goals, and it's past time to take this harmful project permanently off the legislative agenda list.

 

In the News

 

Does Alaska Really Lead the Way?:





Alaskan Developers often say that Alaska has some of the most stringent environmental regulations around- But does it really?


In a recent Op-Ed in ADN, Pam Miller highlights the fact that this common argument used by extractive industries is not actually true. Starting with Governor Dunleavy's failure to ban the toxic chemical PFAS and going on to describe the failures of our state's largest mines to adequately predict the impacts that they have on the landscape, it is clear that the true impact of extractive industries is a story in need of telling.


Pam states, "Of the five major operating mines in Alaska, including Red Dog, Fort Knox, Pogo, Kensington, and Greens Creek, all have experienced at least one major spill or another accidental release of hazardous materials such as mine tailings, cyanide solution, diesel fuel and ore concentrate. Four of the five mines failed to capture or control contaminated mine water, resulting in water quality violations that often occurred over an extended period. Four of the five mines have been identified by EPA as out of compliance with federal laws to protect clean air or water in the last three years. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process at four of the mines underestimated water quality impacts, failing to predict violations of federal and state laws. Metals pollution from two of the mines has contaminated public lands designated as National Monuments (Greens Creek and Red Dog)."


Why our Community Cares:



With massive infrastructure proposals like the West Susitna Industrial Corridor being explored to support speculative foreign mining claims in our own backyard, we need to understand the true impacts of these projects on our landscape, our livlihoods, and our health. 


Read the article in full here.

 

Welcome to New SRC Board Member:  Kelsey Allrich!





Kelsey joined the SRC Board in December of 2023, and we are so excited to have her on our team!


Kelsey Allrich grew up on the banks of a river whose beauty was a permanent feature of her childhood. Boating, swimming, playing, and exploring its waters instilled in her a love of rivers. She’s honored to be part of a team that’s working tirelessly to protect one of Alaska’s greatest waterways. She’s always interested in discussing low-waste and low-impact ways of living. 

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