Managing for Subsistence Opportunities
Subsistence, in general terms, means relying on renewable natural resources (animals and plants) for food and shelter. The Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA) mandates protection of subsistence activities for Alaska rural residents and that the “taking on public lands of fish and wildlife for nonwasteful subsistence uses shall be accorded priority over the taking on such lands of fish and wildlife for other purposes.” The staff at Yukon Flats Refuge is required by ANICLA to evaluate the potential impacts to subsistence resources and their uses of any proposed action on the refuge. Section 810 of ANILCA states the following:
In determining whether to withdraw, reserve, lease, or otherwise permit the use, occupancy, or disposition of public lands under any provision of law authorizing such actions, the head of the federal agency having primary jurisdiction over such lands or his designee shall evaluate the effect of such use, occupancy, or disposition on subsistence uses and needs, the availability of other lands for the purposes sought to be achieved, and other alternatives which would reduce or eliminate the use, occupancy, or disposition of public lands needed for subsistence purposes.
To comply with Section 810, refuge staff commonly evaluate proposals from the public or other agencies to:
- operate and land commercial aircraft in association with transporting visitors
- guide hunters in pursuit of big-game species
- use, occupy, and maintain trapping or subsistence-related cabins
- conduct scientific research
Evaluations are based on literature (such as the following) that document impacts of certain activities on subsistence resources or identify particular areas or resources important to local subsistence users.
- Caulfield, R.A. 1983. Subsistence land use in upper Yukon-Porcupine communities, Alaska. Tech. Paper No. 16, Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game, Subsistence Division
- Sumida, V.A., and D.B. Anderson. 1990. Patterns of fish and wildlife use for subsistence in Fort Yukon, Alaska. Tech. Paper No. 179, Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game, Subsistence Division.
The refuge monitors populations of important subsistence resources and the harvest of those resources. Moose are the most important mammals to subsistence users on the Yukon Flats. Locals also rely on waterfowl and fish, especially the salmon that return each summer and fall to the Yukon River. To learn more about working with wildlife, visit our Science section.
In Alaska, overall management of subsistence resources is shared among state and federal agencies. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game - Division of Subsistence, and the Alaska Boards of Fisheries and Game manage state-authorized subsistence hunting and fishing on state and private lands and waters. For federal lands, the Office of Subsistence Management oversees the process of revising and publishing regulations, set by the Federal Subsistence Board, that specify subsistence seasons, bag limits, and eligibility of villages to harvest wildlife on federal lands in Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers subsistence harvest activities on refuge lands and waters.
Last updated: July 22, 2008