ALASKA REGIONAL PROFILES: YUKON REGION

Introduction

"Our technological civilization is ever more dependent upon the knowledge, insights, and skills of the university. There is a compelling responsibility for the academic to direct to the attention of the larger society that newly acquired understanding of phenomena, processes, and trends which may pose a threat to that society or which can, predictably, be utilized to enhance its welfare." (Philip Handler, President of the National Academy of Sciences, American Scientist, May-June 1976)

The Yukon Regional Profile is the last in a series of regional studies prepared by the University of Alaska to present the basic facts about the natural and man-made environment needed by the public and policy makers in making decisions about land use, development, and management. The five volumes already published (Figure 2) have proved the value of presenting this kind of data in a factual manner with simple text, charts, and maps that allow for easy correlation and reference. They have been used by consultants, researchers, and scientists in various federal and state agencies for background evaluation of such projects as the capital site selection, Native land selections, and the development of management guidelines for Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4 and preparation of impact statements for offshore leasing by the Bureau of Land Management. They have also been used extensively by teachers in rural high schools and colleges to present environmental data with local references that can more easily be understood by the students.

The format of this series was designed to show the interrelationship among all components of the natural environment. It highlights the importance of understanding these interrelationships before making decisions that may result in changes to the natural balance. The data are not intended to provide recommendations for specific action but to serve as a reference base of knowledge.

The series was initiated in January 1974 to formalize for public use the data gathered by the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission established by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) on December 18, 1971. The Commission was charged by Congress with the broad mandate of making recommendations on the use and management of federal lands and to assist Native corporations established by the ANCSA in their land selection process. In its initial phase of operation, a team of 34 professionals in various fields assembled data on the natural and man-made environments of the state. These data were used to develop the format of the Profile series. Additional knowledge needed for specific regional evaluations or for explanation of disciplines and topics has come from many sources including the University of Alaska, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other state and federal agencies. The office of the Governor has been the primary sponsor of the project and has provided the funding needed for the preparation and printing of the documents.

 

JAY S. HAMMOND
GOVERNOR

 

My Fellow Alaskans:

It is with great pride that I view this volume, the sixth and last of the Alaska Regional Profile series. The Profiles are preserving and making available the mass of information about Alaska accumulated by the Resource Planning Team of the Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission. Efforts of the Arctic Environmental Information and Data Center of the University of Alaska and my Division of Policy Development and Planning have expanded upon that information base, and have presented it in highly usable and interesting forms.

Knowledge about Alaska's lands and waters, natural resources, communities and government is summarized clearly and concisely for planners, businessmen, teachers, and governmental officials and staff at all levels local, state and Federal. Good planning requires good information, and Alaska needs intelligent planning if we ate to leave our children a heritage of Alaska as we enjoy it.

Many complimentary statements have been made about the Profiles since Volume I was published in 1974. Each volume has its own special quality due to the divergent characteristics of the region portrayed. The series is a graphic and written demonstration of the six distinct regions of Alaska which should be better understood by Alaskans and others through the Profiles.

 

 

 

 

Federal-State
Land Use Planning Commission
For Alaska

733 W. FOURTH AVENUE, SUITE 400
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA 99501

Dear Reader:

This regional profile on Interior Alaska culminates a joint effort by the Office of the Governor of Alaska, the University of Alaska, and the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission for Alaska. In six volumes, all current physical, social, and economic information has been synthesized. It is our intent to upgrade information in the folios as changes are effected in the State so that a reasonably current data base will be maintained. Response to the previous five profiles indicates that their value has been recognized by a wide range of persons, groups, and agencies having interests in Alaska. The utility of these volumes derives from the common base of knowledge of the State they present. If all persons having interest in and responsibilities for Alaska use these volumes as a common reference, the knowledge compiled in the volumes can act to avert or diffuse conflicts.

It is appropriate that this last profile deals with the great river valleys and mountain areas of interior Alaska. The oil pipeline and other resource development is now shaping this vast, largely unformed territory. Its urban dwellers in Fairbanks and the larger towns and its residents in the 90 widely scattered villages are all feeling the impact of major changes in land tenure and the great infusions of capital development and accompanying influxes of people. All of these new elements must be incorporated and intermixed with the old in a manner that will not do damage to the values that both represent. It is still too early to tell whether this can be done, but surely, if the eternal values of the land are respected by all, our chances are much better that the new Alaskan society will be a successful society. It is hoped that this regional profile and the preceding volumes will help in achieving that synthesis between people and the land that is one of the basic foundations for a successful society and a successful State.

Sincerely,

 

 


 

Description of Planning Units

Alaska has a land area of 586 thousand square miles or approximately 375 million acres. Because of the size of the state and the diversity of the land and its resources, six major planning regions have been used for the presentation. All but one have been further divided into subregions by the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission for Alaska (Figures 1 and 2). Both the regions and subregions follow hydrologic boundaries. In other words, both the regions and subregions include the watersheds of streams within their boundaries with no regard to the township and range grid system or political subdivisions.

The Yukon Region covers most of the central portion of the state and extends into Canada (Figure 2). The 204,000 square mile area includes the south slope of the Brooks Range from the Canadian border to and including the Alatna watershed, all of the Koyukuk drainage, and the delta of the Yukon River; the south boundary follows the north slope of the Kuskokwim Mountains to the Alaska Range in the western part of Mt. McKinley National Park and then along the crest of the Alaska Range into Canada. St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea was also included in this region. As shown in Figure 2, the region has been divided into six subregions corresponding to major drainage systems. The region contains the Fairbanks North Star Borough, all the land and villages of the Doyon Ltd. Native Corporation and some of the Calista Corporation lands and villages in the lower Yukon delta.

[insert oversize figures 2 and 3]

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