Tell the Mat Su Borough NO to Phase III of the West Su Access Road
On Tuesday, December 7th, 2021, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly will be voting to approve the Phase III of the West Susitna Industrial Access Road Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Nova Minerals, AIDEA, and the Mat-Su Borough. The West Susitna Access Road will create a private industrial mining road to reach Nova Mineral’s Estelle Gold Claim in the Yentna Watershed.
An in-depth description of the project can be found HERE.
The Susitna River Coalition (SRC) recommends that the Borough does NOT approve the MOU.
What To Expect and How to Prepare:
Public testimony is accepted in person and telephonically.
Testimony will occur after each hearing item. If you would like to be emailed or texted before this specific hearing item please email Melissa@SusitnaRiverCoalition.org to be placed on a “heads up” list.
The Mayor will announce if public testimony will start with in-person or remote participants.
1. In Person – The mayor will announce when public testimony is happening. You can walk up to the podium at this time.
To testify over the phone, dial 1-855-225-2326 at the beginning of the meeting. Wait for the message “joining conference” – you will be automatically muted until it is time for public testimony.
When the Mayor announces public participation press *3 to raise your hand to speak. When it is your turn (you won’t know how many people are in front of you) you will hear a “ding” and “your line has been unmuted” it will now be your turn to testify.
When you are done testifying you will be disconnected from the line and unable to hear the rest of the meeting. We suggest also having the livestream on mute in the background so you can continue listening to the meeting when you are done testifying.
Need Some Ideas for Talking Points?
1. Public outreach has not been adequately conducted over the past two years of predevelopment of the West Susitna Access road. This project will inextricably alter the area, and stakeholders, landowners, tribal members, and the general public should have adequate opportunity to weigh in on the project prior to utilizing Alaskan and MSB money to push the project further. Many in the area have not even heard of the project.
2. It has been more than a year since the Borough signed the Phase II MOU in which AIDEA said they would do public outreach. Almost none has been done. AIDEA did NOT follow through with their word. More time and money should not be dedicated for a project with AIDEA when they refuse to communicate the true purpose or the true costs of the road to the Borough, the land owners, business owners, lodge owners, and hunters and fishermen that rely on this area.
3. The road and cost estimates as presented by AIDEA are for a COMPLETELY private industrial road and their messaging about the public access has been intentionally misleading and confusing to the public.
4. Locals in the West Susitna area that do know about the project have concerns regarding the project, and their input should be heard and considered prior to moving forward.
5. The project has been fast-tracked, and the timeline is too rapid. One season of impact studies is not adequate to gain a comprehensive idea of environmental implications to economically valuable and environmental important fish and wildlife habitat.
6. Timber, Agriculture, Coal, and Hardrock Mining have been touted as justifications for the road, yet there has been no compelling description as to how these various resources would help pay for the road or benefit Alaskans. For example, AIDEA’s description of 5 timber jobs is not a compelling reason to list timber as a viable resource that Alaskans would benefit from.
7. Increased road construction to remote areas will result in increased illegal activity including poaching, vandalism, vehicle abandonment, and shooting. Until the management of and a budget is addressed, this project should not proceed. Who will be responsible for paying for increased monitoring? The Borough has a very limited budget and we worry about a similar situation as the Jonesville Road or Jim Creek.
8. An independent economic analysis of the costs and benefits to the Mat-Su was recommended in Phase 1 and was never completed. This assessment should be completed prior to any investment in project development to ensure the people and the Borough benefit from this project.
9. Though the project was first discussed in 2011, there has not been a cultural heritage or environmental impact review. This assessment should be completed prior to any investment in project development.
10. The road would impact designated Recreational Rivers, including some of Alaska’s premier salmon fishing destinations.
How to Prepare your Testimony
1. Testimony is limited to 3 minutes per person. Make notes or write out your testimony before the meeting starts.
2. When it is your turn to testify, state your name and spell your last name for the record. Identify your connection to the area and if you know your Assembly district or Representative make sure to include that.
Ex: Hello my name is Susitna River R-I-V-E-R, I am a business owner in District 7 and I am here to encourage the Assembly to reject the Phase III Susitna Access Road MOU because…
3. In your testimony include your connection to the area, what you would like them to do, what you are concerned about and why, repeat what you would like them to do, and thank them for the opportunity.
Ex: I ask the Assembly to reject the Phase III Susitna Access Road MOU because adequate public outreach has not been completed. An independent economic cost and benefit analysis has not been completed. This road would impact designated Recreational Rivers and have immense effects on pristine wetlands to only benefit foreign mining companies. As a business owner this would negatively impact the habitat and resources I rely on and as a resident of the Mat-Su I do not support this project. Please do not approve the Phase III MOU. Thank you for your time.