Interior land plan adopted

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Thousands of acres of state land near the Taylor Highway will be available for remote settlement as part of a new land-use plan adopted by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The plan, adopted Feb. 3, also designates small tracts of land near Eagle, Chicken and Boundary and the junction of the Taylor and Top of the World highways for commercial, residential or community use.

DNR natural resource specialist Mark Sprague said public concerns resulted in the plan's focus on creating small, localized areas for commercial use.

''If there's one thing people agreed on, it was that development should not be strung along the highway,'' he said. ''We're strongly encouraging that if there's going to be any development ... that it be near Chicken, Eagle, Boundary or Jack Wade Junction.''

The DNR's plan covers the entire Upper Yukon area, a 4.2-million-acre expanse located north of the Alaska Highway and east of the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Settlement and development are only two facets of the comprehensive plan, which has been in the works for three years and encompasses everything from wetlands protection to trail designations, logging and mineral access.

Similar plans dictate DNR land-use policies in more than half of the state, and most aspects of the Yukon plan are similar to other plans statewide.

The Upper Yukon plan takes into account both local wildlife considerations and the comments made at two rounds of public hearings held in nine communities during the planning process, Sprague said.

''We had a lot of people interested, a lot of people involved,'' he said.

Wildlife is another concern addressed in the plan, including the welfare of the Fortymile Caribou Herd, Dall sheep and other animals. The shape of the remote settlement areas near Chicken was adjusted after local concern about the effect settlement on Taylor Creek could have on moose.

Some lands used by caribou and Dall sheep have been designated as habitat, and the plan also places qualifications on mineral exploration and development in areas used as mineral licks by Dall sheep and moose.

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