West Su Access Phase III MOU Final Vote& Recreation Rivers Advisory Board
We know that this is such a busy time of year, and we wouldn't ask again if it wasn't important...
Testimony Needed for West Su Access AGAIN December 21st at 6PM
On Tuesday, December 21st, 2021, at 6 PM 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 100+ mile private gravel 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 staggering public testimony in opposition to the road and inadequate and confusing answers from AIDEA for the Assembly, the vote was postponed.
The Assembly needs to hear from you on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. Overwhelming opposition is extremely important at this meeting.
An in-depth description of the project can be found HERE.
The Susitna River Coalition (SRC) recommends that the Borough does NOT approve the Phase III MOU and that this project does not progress until AIDEA can clearly explain what type of road it would be, who would have access and where, and who is paying for the construction, maintenance, and enforcement of all parts of the road.
Not sure where the route goes?
What To Expect and How to Prepare
You must call in or attend in person to testify (Radio, Facebook, and Livestream do not have those options). Public testimony is accepted in person and telephonically. Testimony will occur during "Audience Participation" after "Public Hearings."
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. If you would like feedback on your testimony, please email a draft to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org by mid-morning on Monday to allow time for us to get back to you.
The Mayor will announce if public testimony will start with in-person or remote participants. Unless changed, testimony will occur under Audience Participation.
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. 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 and public ask.
4. $98 million dollars was spent in 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 frontier quality. Remote lodges, 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 1 in 8 Alaskans with sustainable jobs.
5.Public outreach has not been adequately conducted over the past two years of predevelopment for this project. This project would 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 stakeholders 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 increasing monitoring? The Borough has a very limited budget. We worry about a similar situation as Jonesville Road or Jim Creek.
8.An independent economic analysis of the costs and benefits to the Mat-Su was recommended in Phase I 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 Recreation Rivers, including some of Alaska's premier Chinook and other salmon fishing destinations. (Learn more about Recreation Rivers).
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.
Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Advisory Board
Public Testimony is encouraged.
See this attachment for a history of Recreation Rivers.
Why Should You Get Involved?
In November 2021 the Governor appointed 13 members representing commercial fishing; sport fishing; sport hunting; conservation; subsistence; forest products; mining; powerboat users; Recreationly-oriented commercial users; other Recreation users; private property owners within the Recreation river corridor; the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Planning Commission from the membership of the planning
commission; and the Mayor of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough or the designee of the Mayor.
The Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources consults with the Recreation Rivers Advisory Board in preparing, adopting, and revising the Recreation river management plan and regulations affecting use and management of the Recreation rivers.
While no revision to the management plan has been publicly announced as of December 2021, it is anticipated this will occur very soon. The Advisory Board will have the power to make recommendations and therefore are in a powerful position to shape the future of the six rivers.
How is this Relevant to West Su?
The West Susitna Access Road would affect many of our Susitna Recreation Rivers. With a large development project like West Su on the Horizon, it is more important than ever to have a strong management plan like the Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan in place.
Let this newly appointed board know that the Recreation Rivers Management Plan was implemented for good reason and should remain in place.