Since 2012, as part of Graphite Creek mining exploration activities, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources has been allowing the company to divert up to 130,000 gallons per day of water from several creeks and ponds without requiring the Company to obtain a permit.
Concerned about the impacts of such water withdrawals on fish and wildlife habitat, the Tribes formed the IBITWC to addressing these and other water and subsistence related issues.
Recently, the IBITWC sent a letter to the Nome Office of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) requesting that they amend the Habitat Permit to ensure adequate flows for salmon in the Creeks affected by the TWUAs pointing out that the ADF&G Permit and the TWUAs Decision require the agency to take action to limit potential impacts to Salmon and other species that may occur under the TWUAs Decision. ADF&G responded, however, that it “believes that if the application conforms to the terms and conditions of the permits, then the withdrawal rates and amounts authorized in the permits will not impact the fish in Hot Springs Creek.” The agency, however, reached this conclusion without collecting any data on the Creek nor even visiting the site.
During a hearing last fall regarding a bond issue for the Graphite One Mine Sen. Don Olson stated that “If the community does not want this mine, it should not go through.” The IBITWC, therefore, has requested that Sen. Olson take whatever measures he can to encourage the DNR, ADF&G and/or the Mining Company to work with the IBITWC and the Tribes to protect salmon habitat in the Creeks in order to preserve subsistence resources that are vital to the Tribes.