New $330,000 Dock Proposal for 6-8 Boats Smells Fishy; Ugashik Tribal Council Calls It “Economic Development” Part 2: The Project Moves Forward

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Aug 29, 2010

About a three-and-a-half years ago, the Ugashik Traditional Village’s Tribal Council applied for permits to build a new dock.  The dock proposed in that permitting process is ambitious and includes converting the back portion of the old cannery building into a processing area at a later date.

The Permitting Process

During the permitting process, I publicly questioned a few things about the proposal which, apparently, upset the drift boat owners who favor the new dock.  Among the issues I questioned were subsistence fishing, the proximity of commercial set net fishing sites to the proposed construction and what the timing of demolition would do to those fishing sites.  My questions drew the ire of not only the president of the Tribal Council but also some of the small drift boat owners, the part-time villagers who are most likely to benefit from the dock.

My husband and I took our questions to our Lake and Peninsula Borough’s planning committee, which had its own concerns.  Before the  planning committee agreed to approve and issue the their permit  they asked that modifications be made to address things like safety, the commercial fishing set net sites located about 1000′ up river from the proposed dock  and a host of other issues before they would agree for the permits to be issued.

The changes were made and the permits were approved by the various borough, state and federal agencies.

Where’s the Funding

At the time I felt filing for the permits was a case of the “putting the cart before the horse” as the Ugashik Traditional Village Tribal Council had not yet received ANY grant monies from any agency towards this project. Getting permits before approval for grant monies is sometimes done to show that the project will not hit any major hang-ups during the permitting phase. Permits can then be extended.

The lack of overall infrastructure in Ugashik, the aging and tiny number of actual, year-round residents  and a lack of fish remaining after the current processor completes seasonal harvesting are all reasons that this line of thinking has never worked in the past in getting grant monies. This did not seem to dawn on any of the council enough to rethink the need for a new dock.

The tribal council appears to suffer from a lack of awareness that all these grant agencies know each other and ‘talk’. Many times my husband and I have been  personally contacted and asked to supply facts about our community that the grant reader felt were left out to help disguise how small a village we really are.

This pricey dock proposal seems especially questionable to me due to an occurrence I witnessed only a few months earlier.  A meeting was held with yet another of many economic development consultants about how the village might move forward with some type of economic development plan.

This latest consultant represented a very respectable company and met with the few local winter residents, as well a few summer residents, trying to glean input on what type of economic development might be feasible, especially as it might be relate to the new proposed dock. Although this meeting lasted more than three hours, I do not recall even a SINGLE concrete idea expressed to support this new dock as proposed.

At one point, my frustration with the group on the lack of solid, well-thought out planning led me to ask: “What if, heaven forbid, the old rotted dock fell into the river tonight.  How would the local fishermen, especially the drift fishermen pushing for this new dock, be hurt?”  The answer……wait for it, I am sure your jaw will drop as mine did…..’We would be inconvenienced’!!!

Might this be a case of these few drift fishermen feeling they are entitled to the new proposed dock,  as much as$330,000, that would never be used by more than maybe a total of 6-8 local residents to load/unload gear, for ONLY about 4-6 weeks each year?

About this time last year the ‘dock project’ stalled, despite efforts by the tribal council to the contrary.  It was also about then that I learned the use of funds available by our CDQ, Bristol Bay Economic Developent, as ‘community block’ grants were being sunk into the project WITHOUT consulting the specific residents these funds are directly meant to assist.

My efforts to get these funding details might well surprise some of you who are new to this type of fight. Other readers will see a pattern many of us fight in Alaska!!!

Coming soon — Questionable use CDQ/BBEDC Funds by Tribal Council

~ Victoria

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5 Responses to “New $330,000 Dock Proposal for 6-8 Boats Smells Fishy; Ugashik Tribal Council Calls It “Economic Development” Part 2: The Project Moves Forward”

  1. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Your article is not surprising to me at all. We have to remember that the CDQ’s were modeled after the ANCSA corporations and this in itself has left the impression that the CDQ’s are intended for the Native Population Only of the Western Alaska Coastal Area. Not so. That’s a little known fact though. The majority of the population of the Western Alaska Coastal Area don’t understand the rights of all the people in regards to equal opportunity to a country’s natural resources.

    The CDQ’s belong to the people regardless of race, yet in Rural Alaska, those resources are controlled by a handful of men who block certain people from access to the resource. If you speak out against the ‘control group’ you get ‘blackballed and defamed’ to cooperating state and federal agencies. This is gang like behavior. It’s not right.

  2. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Norton Sound area is cooling off pretty fast and it looks like mother nature is bypassing fall and heading right into winter. Our regions CDQ group, NSEDC, recently hauled in the Board of Directors to Anchorage to do some fast mumbo-jumbo talking and somehow got the Board to support the 60,000 cap and all the little buddy perks on King Salmon Bycatch of the Bering Sea Factory Trawler Pollock Fishery. The NSEDC Board of Directors originally supported a cap quite a bit lower than what the pollock pushers and dealers rammed down their throats with several white lies packed in between a few facts. Manipulating the illiterate and ignorant. Sad but true.

    Whenever NSEDC has a Board Meeting in Anchorage, several of us know that the employees of said corporation is going to pull a fast one on the Board. Out of the public eye and slam-dunk, sneaky business is a done deal. This type of manipulation shows a lack of honesty and respect for the Western Alaska Coastal Areas Native Peoples cultural and subsistance way of live. The employees of said corporation treats us all like idiots by giving us no say in the destiny of our most valuable resource, the salmon. They are hounding after the pollock dollar to continue to play their power games with Public Monies.

    This coming Tuesday, October 5, NSEDC will face elections for Board Members in the villages of Brevig Mission, Diomede, Shaktoolik, Unalakleet and White Mountain. Hopefully the Winds of Change will bring in honest, assertive and compassionate Board Members to change the way this Public Money corporation is responsible for destroying their stakeholders hundreds year old way of life – that of depending on the salmon for subsistence.

    Of the five seats up for Representatives to NSEDC, the power spots are the southern Norton Sound villages of Unalakleet, Shaktoolik and White Mountain. Ballot counting should be watched closely – votes thrown out should be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb otherwise we’ll have the same old, same old good old boys reelected to their puppet positions doing business for the good of the corporation employees as it is now.

    It’s appropriate here to remark that NSEDC promised Shaktoolik a ‘fish plant’ at their last quarterly meeting in Nome and this can viewed as a bribe to reelect the good old boy who goes along with the bullying and intimidating the Board members they consider weak and dumb. The employees fear change because an old director who they pushed out has a chance to be elected from that village. Watch those votes closely in Shaktoolik.

    It’ll be interesting to see who Unalakleet will elect. Will it be the employee who resigned from his job in late summer? The salary for the President of the Board of Directors is the lure here – not much work involved compared to running a fish plant. Watch those votes closely in Unalakleet.

    White Mountain and that’s where the current President of the Board resides. Votes are really, really important in that village. Watch those votes closely in White Mountain.

    With all this election activity in the three power spots of the current NSEDC structure, both in Administration and board member make-up, WATCHDOGS need to keep an eye on NSEDC’s Rules and Bylaws governing elections. They have a way of changing in blink-blink speed.

    I’ll report back after this upcoming election. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for honesty and fairness. Being a partner of the Pollock Fishery through the CDQ’s is not fair to the people who are the stakeholders in the CDQ monies – they don’t realize they are destroying their culture and subsistence way of life through the Bycatch problem in the Bering Sea.

  3. alaskapi Says:

    Saw you had board elections coming ..
    Please do report as it all unfolds there !

  4. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Unofficial NSEDC election results for Board Members – White Mountain re-elected Dan Harrelson and if he is lucky, he might continue to be the President of the Board. Unalakleet has a up-coming Run-off between the old Board Member and the ex-employee. Shaktoolik casted even votes for old Board Member and the old CEO/President so there will be a Run-off there too. Brevig Mission didn’t have an election and I don’t know why. Run-offs for Unalakleet and Shaktoolik will be interesting to watch especially for those working for the corporation. Change or tighter control is the question for the rest of the region.

  5. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Word is that Brevig Mission couldn’t make copies of a ballot because they had no ink for a printer.

    Unalakleet and Shaktoolik are the places to watch for the run-offs – New Board Members elected will mean change; Old Board Members re-elected will mean that the Employees of the Public Money Corporation will continue to make decisions without meaningful public input.

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