The refuge manager must base management decisions on a complex set of federal regulations and policies. Some areas of the refuge are recognized for their unique values and are managed for the protection of those values. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), the legislation that established the Yukon Flats Refuge, directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study all of the non-wilderness lands in Alaska refuges and to recommend areas suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. ANILCA also designated one river in the refuge as a national wild river (Beaver Creek) and identified two additional refuge rivers (lower Sheenjek and Porcupine) for further study and possible future national wild river designation.
In 1987, the Service selected 650,000 acres in the White and Crazy Mountains (pdf) as meeting the criteria for designation as a national wilderness area. This selection was adopted in the Yukon Flats NWR Comprehensive Conservation Plan – Record of Decision (pdf), and submitted to the Department of the Interior as a recommendation for proposed wilderness designation. The Secretary of the Interior has not yet submitted the recommendation to the President, who would then submit it to the U.S. Congress for action. Currently the Native regional corporation, Doyon Limited, is interested in developing oil and gas in the foothills of the White Mountains, which could include a pipeline corridor through this proposed national wilderness area.
ANILCA classified and designated the upper 127-mile portion of Beaver Creek (pdf) as a national wild river component of the National Wild and Scenic River System. The initial 111-mile segment of Beaver Creek flows through the White Mountains National Recreation Area (administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)); the final 16-mile segment flows through the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Management direction for this river corridor is included in a river management plan (pdf) approved by the BLM and the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1983. The plan calls for no development within the one-mile wide river corridor of this wild and scenic section. Each year, dozens of national and international recreational floaters enjoy the beautiful and remote qualities of Beaver Creek.
On January 19, 2001, the President of the United States recommended designation of the entire lower Sheenjek River as a national wild river. The intent of the designation would be to “preserve the free-flowing condition of the river and to protect the outstandingly remarkable cultural (subsistence), wildlife, scenic, and recreational values associated with the river, its water quality, and the adjacent lands.” If acted upon by the U.S. Congress, the entire Sheenjek River—from its headwaters in the Arctic Refuge to its mouth on the Yukon Flats Refuge—would be protected as a national wild river. This legislative action would facilitate consistent management and protect the free-flowing nature of the Sheenjek in perpetuity.
Selected and Conveyed Lands
The refuge boundaries enclose approximately 8,630,000 acres of federal lands and an additional 2,500,000 acres of privately selected and conveyed lands. The non-refuge lands belong to Doyon Regional Corporation, the villages of Beaver, Birch Creek, Chalkyitsik, Circle, Fort Yukon and Stevens Village, the State of Alaska, and individual Native allotment holders. Selected lands that have yet to be conveyed continue to be managed as part of the refuge.
View Land Ownership Map (pdf)
Last updated: July 22, 2008