ISSUES RAISED CONCERNING ALTERNATIVES FOR BLACK RIVER IN BLM RMP
Alternative C opens then entire Upper Black River subunit, including Salmon Fork, to mining.
Alternative B protects the entire headwaters of Black River from mining.
In summary, placer mining can negatively effect fish and aquatic resources by degrading or
eliminating aquatic habitat; reducing available food sources and water quality; reducing
available pool habitat; eliminating riparian vegetation and function; creating sparsely vegetated
valleys and floodplains with slow rates of natural revegetation and unstable stream channels
with highly erodable beds and banks; altering the longitudinal slope, geometry, and sediment
transport rates in streams; and creating undersized or absent floodplains. Plan, page 435
Alternative B protects the watershed of the Salmon Fork from road building. Alternative C
opens the entire upper Black River to road building.
Aside from placer mining, road maintenance and development poses the second greatest threat
to fish and aquatic habitat. Disturbance of soil and rock during road construction creates a
significant potential for erosion and sedimentation of nearby streams. Roads greatly increase
the frequency of landslides, debris flow, and other mass movement. Culverts, if not designed
and maintained properly, often create migration barriers to fish resulting in a loss of habitat.
Road construction is a major ground disturbing activity with potential long-term impacts to fish
and aquatic resources. Plan, page 440.
Under Alternative B, 621,000 acres within the Salmon Fork watershed would be designated as
the Salmon Fork ACEC. The Salmon Fork Black River contains high-value fishery resources
and is the main reason for the ACEC designation. The ACEC would remain closed to locatable
minerals, leasable minerals, and salable minerals. Fish and aquatic habitats benefit in areas
closed to mineral entry, because the habitat generally remains intact.
The Salmon Fork Black River (52 miles) would be recommended as suitable for designation in
the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The river corridor would be closed to mineral
leasing and location. Fish and aquatic habitats benefit in areas closed to mineral entry, because
the habitat generally remains intact. Alternative B would provide the greatest protection to
fish and aquatic habitat, as compared to Alternatives A, C, and D. Plan, page 738.
Alternative C: Oil and Gas (alternative B closes entire subunit to oil and gas)
The Salmon Fork Black River ACEC (621,000 acres) would be closed to oil and gas leasing
while the remainder of the subunit would be open. Plan, page 738.
Under Alternative C, three quarters of the upper Black River would be open to oil and gas,
including Fred Thomas’ country, Grayling Fork, Wood River, Paddle Mountain, Bear Mountain,
Bull River, and Steven Henry’s country. This includes important wintering range of the
Porcupine Caribou Herd, important trapping country, and lands that are significantly productive
Alternative C: Mining
Alternative C is substantially different from Alternatives A and B because in Alternative C the
entire subunit (2.4 million acres) and 4,144 miles of stream would be open to locatable mineral
entry. This includes 559 miles of stream (fourteen percent) within RCAs on the Salmon Fork
Black and Kandik Rivers and over 1,000 miles within the Salmon Fork Black River ACEC.
Plan, page 739.
Under alternative B all of the upper Black River area is protected from mining.
Caves. Rare Plants. Bald Eagle nesting sites. Caribou wintering range.
Under Alternative B, 621,000 acres would be designated as the Salmon Fork ACEC to manage
limestone habitats and steep south facing slopes and bluffs for rare flora, and to protect Bald
Eagle nesting habitat, salmon habitat, and caribou habitat. Management decisions to protect
fish and wildlife habitat in the ACEC would help preserve the visual character of the area.
Plan, page 751.
Bald Eagle nesting populations along Salmon Fork and Grayling Fork are thought to be
the northernmost populations.
Upper Black River is fall and winter range for the Porcupine Caribou Herd. The herd is
culturally important for communities in Alaska and Canada and is the subject of an
international agreement with Canada.
Designation of the ACEC and closing it to locatable minerals (in Alternative B) will protect
wildlife resources in the area where subsistence use is most prevalent. Plan, page 756.
Under Alternative B, the Salmon Fork Black River drainage is designated as the Salmon Fork
ACEC (Map 69) and is closed to locatable mineral entry, leasable minerals, and salable
minerals. It will be retained in federal management and be a right-of-way avoidance area. This
will serve to maintain the Salmon Fork area in its current primitive condition with primary
land uses being subsistence hunting and trapping. The entire subunit is closed to
commercial timber sales. Although winter snowmobiles would be allowed, remoteness would
limit the number and intensity of use. The ACEC designation would maintain habitat for
Porcupine caribou, bald eagle, and other wildlife, including those used for subsistence.
The allowance of motorized boats on the Salmon Fork is a continuation of the current situation.
Although motorized activity may affect nesting eagles or other raptors, the level of use is very
low and impacts should be minor. Plan, page 757
Salmon River is one of only five places in the entire Yukon River drainage where
Salmon that spawn in Salmon Fork not only feed the people of Chalkyitsik, they
contribute to subsistence fishing opportunies along more than 900 miles of the Yukon
with declining stocks of Yukon king salmon, any spawning stream needs maximum
the Salmon Fork headwaters are in Canada and it forms a migration corridor for salmon
returning to spawn in Canada. It is a tributary of the Yukon River which is managed
subject to international agreements with Canada.