Phase III MOU of West Susitna Access Road vote TONIGHT!
Last Chance for Public Comment on
West Susitna Phase III MOU before MSB Assembly
TODAY, December 21st at 6PM
On Tuesday, December 21st, 2021, at 6PM the Mat-Su Borough Assembly will be voting to approve the Phase III of the West Susitna Industrial Access Road Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The West Susitna Access Road will create a private industrial mining road to reach Nova Mineral’s Estelle Gold Claim in the Yentna Watershed.
The Phase III MOU was first introduced to the Mat Su Borough Assembly on December 7, 2021. Because of robust testimony and inadequate and confusing answers from AIDEA for the Assembly, the vote was postponed. Overwhelming opposition is extremely important at this meeting.
The Susitna River Coalition (SRC) recommends that the Borough does NOT approve the MOU.
What To Expect and How to Prepare
You must call in or attend in person to testify (Radio, Facebook, and Livestreamdo not have those options). 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. 2. Telephonically
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.
Looking for Specific Talking Points?
1. AIDEA argues that public outreach will occur during final permitting despite their commitments to public outreach in the Phase I and II MOUs. This is not how the public process works. Additionally, why would we trust that public outreach will be done when AIDEA didn’t meet any of their commitments in either of the Phase I or II MOUs. 2. NOW is the time for the Mat-Su Borough Assembly to end this Boondoggle. AIDEA is misleading and misguiding the Borough on this bad idea. Let’s not waste any more time or financial resources on a project that should not advance. The Borough has heard overwhelming opposition from Borough residents. We do not want this road now, or six months from now. Do not approve this MOU. 3. AIDEA is unprepared, and still unable to answer even the most basic questions. Vote no on the phase III MOU and invite AIDEA to come back and present a new MOU when they know what they’re asking for and what is expected of the Borough. AIDEA has millions of dollars for research and project assessments and if they think this project is a good idea, they can present a realistic project outline public ask. 4. $98 million dollars was spent in the Mat-Su by out of state visitors in 2016. Tourism is the 2nd largest private sector employer in Alaska and brings in about $2.42 billion in visitor spending. People come to Alaska because of its quality of being in the last frontier. Remote lodges and fishing operations and other recreational activities are what tourists come to see--- not a mine or a road. These features would destroy the wilderness quality that brings tourists to Alaska and provide 1in 8 Alaskans with sustainable jobs. 5. 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. 6. The road and cost estimates as presented by AIDEA are for a COMPLETELY private industrial gravel road and their messaging about the public access has been intentionally misleading and confusing to the public. 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. The road would impact designated Recreational Rivers, including some of Alaska’s premier Chinook and other 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.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our work or would like to get more involved. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates. Thank you for your support! SRC Board Members: Mike Wood, Whitney Wolff, Becky Long, Laura Wright, Howard Carbone, and Heidi Knudsvig