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Rep. Young Pushing Land Bill for Port Clarence Site

Congressman Don Young is introducing a bill in Washington, D.C. to speed up development in an area of the Seward Peninsula that many are eyeing as one piece of a future Arctic Port.

House Resolution 4668 would divide about 2,500 acres of federal land among the Coast Guard, the State of Alaska, and the Bering Straits Native Corporation.

 The idea is to hasten infrastructure development by creating a public-private partnership.

“The Coast Guard has no money,” Young said. “The [Army] Corps [of Engineers] has identified this one area as a public-private participation—so any facilities should be, very frankly, financed privately with the public input.”

Under the resolution BSNC would take over 2,381 of the land–the overwhelming majority. Matt Ganley works with resources for BSNC, and said by email Tuesday that the corporation has been “discussing the Point Spencer lands with Congressman Young and his staff” since 2010, when the Coast Guard decommissioned it’s facilities in the area.

Ganley added that BSNC “fully support[s]” Young’s legislation.

The acreage that the Coast Guard and the state will receive are comparatively small, but vital for infrastructure development. The Coast Guard has identified the area from an airstrip to the shoreline as essential to future operations. And while there isn’t yet a draft map accompanying the resolution, Ganley says the legislation aims to anticipate future needs and partition the lands accordingly.

Point Spencer is the curved spit closing in the waters West of Teller and Brevig Mission.

Point Spencer is the western spit enclosing the Port Clarence sight, across from Cape Riley near Teller and Brevig Mission. Photo: screen grab from Mapcarta.com

Point Spencer is the western spit enclosing the Port Clarence sight, across from Cape Riley near Teller and Brevig Mission (. Image: Mapcarta.com

It’s one of the geographical features that makes up Port Clarence, which, along with the harbor in Nome, will likely be part of a proposed deep draft port.

Young believes freeing up land the federal government has failed to so far take advantage of is the first step towards building vital infrastructure.

“This has been identified as one of the more likely areas by the Coast Guard and the Corp of Engineers,” Young said. “I’m not going to pick the areas, I’m just trying to provide the areas necessary to have a deep water port—and we need it badly up there because of the arctic participation. And this is the first step.”

Ganley wrote that during a meeting last February residents and leadership in Brevig Mission and Teller supported the prospect of jobs and economic opportunity nearby development could bring. Attendees also raised serious concerns about the effects to subsistence resources. Though the resolution has a special provision recognizing archeological and cultural heritage in the region, there is no mention of subsistence anywhere in the legislation.

The US Army Corp of Engineers is scheduled to release a report with recommendations for an Arctic deep draft port in the region by the end of the summer.

There’s no timeline as yet for how Young’s legislation will advance in the House.


  1. Robert C.Iyatunguk on May 20, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    A deep water port on a barrier island…and in the near further the coastal waters are rising and the community of Shishmaref is still in the process to move of a barrier island…. How high they going to build this deep water port…. Costly just like moving us of this shrinking Island….

  2. Annie Conger on May 21, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Although the leaders from Brevig Mission and Teller, and the Bering Straits Native Corporation discussed the deep water port in the Port Clarence area, they have not talked to the people who uses the land for subsistence purposes. The people who use the area have a spring camp 3 miles below the old Port Clarence Loran Station to hunt for the marine mammals they rely on for food. They hunt for the waterfowl during the spring to feed their families while they are at camp. The Port Clarence Bay
    area is use for subsistence activities during the spring, summer, fall, and winter. If disturbed, the people who rely on hunting for their native food will forever be dislocated from the hunting grounds they’ve used for eons. The deep water port is just a temporary job that will not support the people for the rest of their lives. What will support their livelihood is the marine mammals they have hunted for for generations. I and many of my relatives who rely on the marine mammals as our main staple of food urge all who are involved in planning a deep water port at our hunting grounds please reverse this plan. This quick fix of job opportunities you offer will not feed the generations to come because when this port is done, the jobs will not be there when completed. Our people heavily rely on the marine mammals to feed us for millennium.

  3. Bryant Hammond on May 22, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Annie and Robert – those are both good points. I would like to see some clarification as to stability (in the climate change / rising waters / greater erosion sense) and what long term economic opportunities are. How many permanent jobs will be created (operations and maintenance etc) and how will those jobs benefit the people of Teller and Brevig Mission? What do the primary users of the subsistence resources think of these plans?

  4. Dick Kugzruk on May 28, 2014 at 12:51 am

    More bad things will happen, looking at what AVEC and this intertie did, ruined forever, come and look and at least talk with us, our leaders and elders, we live here not BSNC