Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust Appeals Nuvista Special Use Permit

Jul 26, 2013

BBHLT says DNR does not have the legal authority to authorize activities in the Wood Tikchik State Park which were expressly prohibited in the park's enabling legislation.

DILLINGHAM:   On June 28, DNR’s Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation granted a special park use permit to the Nuvista Electric and Light Cooperative.

Nuvista is tasked with studying the feasibility of building at dam at Chikuminuk Lake, inside the Wood Tikchik State Park. To carry out their studies, Nuvista has said they need to do some things in the park that aren’t currently allowed; in this instance, they requested to use helicopters to transport researchers around the area.

The June 28 Director's Determination granted Nuvista limited permission to land helicopters in the park this year, but that decision was not well received by some in Bristol Bay.

Now a formal appeal has been filed against the decision that granted the special use permit.

The lead appellant is the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, a non-profit corporation that is dedicated to the preservation and protection of salmon and wildlife habitat in the Bristol Bay region. Five others signed on as co-appellants.

The Land Trust holds, or is expected to soon hold, the only private land at Chikuminuk Lake. That parcel is located near the outlet to the Allen River, and if the dam is built, the land is projected to end up underwater.

As the basis for its appeal, the Land Trust stated that the Director of DNR's Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division "does not have the legal authority" to authorize activities in the park that are prohibited by the legislation that created the park, and the statutes that govern it. Further, the appeal notes that the proposed activities are inconsistent with the intended use of the wilderness area around Chikuminuk Lake, and thus are also not allowed by current state law.

Others signing the appeal include Henry Wilson, Dan Dunaway, the Tikchik Narrows Lodge, New Koliganek Village Council, and Aleknagik Natives Limited.

The appeal was sent to DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan. It’s unclear if the Commissioner's office must respond to the appeal before the Director’s Determination is considered final.