Subsistence Board Revamping Rural Determination Process

Jay Barrett/KMXT

The way the Federal Subsistence Board has determined if an area of Alaska was rural, and therefore its residents eligible to subsistence hunt and fish on federal land and waters has remained largely unchanged. Until now. 

Previously, areas had to meet all manner of criteria to be declared rural. The new method will flip that on its head, according to Deborah Coble, outreach coordinator with the Office of Subsistence Management in Anchorage.

“It’s going from an entire page in a regulation book with all sorts of guidelines to basically two sentences,” she said. “And those two sentences in the regulations would state, ‘the board determines which areas or communities in Alaska are non-rural. Current determinations are listed as.’ And it would give a specific location and then all other communities and areas therefore are rural.”

A series of meetings around the state kicks off tomorrow here in Kodiak. Coble says they are basically wondering what residents think of the new determination process and why they feel that way.

Coble says the impetus for the change came from public input.

“The Federal Subsistence Board received 475 substantive comments from various sources, including individuals, members of the regional advisory councils, of which there are 10 councils, and other entities and organizations such as borough and village governments,” she said. “(They) wanted us to look at, actually, wanted the secretaries of interior and agriculture to look at the rural determination process.”

The Federal Subsistence Board meeting in Kodiak will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Best Western Kodiak Inn. It will be preceded by a Kodiak and Aleutian Islands regional advisory council meeting. Both meetings are open to the public, and the latter one can be joined via teleconference.

If you’d like to call into the meeting, the toll-free number is 1-866-560-5984, and the passcode is: 12960066. 

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