JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON --
Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and 55th U.S. Army Chief of Engineers, signed the Elim Subsistence Harbor Chief’s Report during a special event in Washington, D.C. this month. The signing progresses the proposed project to Congress for authorization.
Located on the northwest shore of Norton Bay and about 96 miles east of Nome on the Seward Peninsula, the proposed project aims to provide safe, reliable, and efficient navigation, access and moorage for the subsistence and commercial fleet, as well as fuel and freight barges serving the community of Elim. Currently, Elim has no moorage, harbor, or boat landing infrastructure.
“This study reflects a major milestone to enhance Elim’s long-term viability by improving the economics of the area, food security, and provide access to subsistence resources,” said Col. Damon Delarosa, commander of the USACE – Alaska District. “Through our civil works program, USACE supports Alaska Native Tribal self-determination and governance; climate change resiliency; and improving their future economic opportunities.”
The final feasibility study recommends the construction of a harbor at Elim Beach sized to accommodate one 160-foot barge and associated 86-foot tug, two tenders, and 50 vessels varying in size from 18-feet to 32-feet. The plan consists of a 300-foot wide entrance channel with a dredging depth of -13 feet. Also, the plan incorporates bulkheads, breakwaters, a turning basin, boat launch and an upland area for temporary storage. The estimated cost of this new infrastructure is about $75 million.
The lack of infrastructure affects the mariners serving the community with navigation problems resulting in safety issues, transportation inefficiencies, vessel damage, environmental risks offloading fuel, and a loss of commercial fishing opportunities. The cultural identity of Alaska Native Tribes is highly dependent upon subsistence activities tied to specific locations, and in-depth historical knowledge of land and subsistence resources. The availability and affordability of fuel and other essential goods are critical.
For more information about this project, please visit the Alaska District’s Reports and Studies website: https://www.poa.usace.army.mil/Library/Reports-and-Studies/. At the top of the left column under “documents available for review,” select “civil works.”
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