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Contact: Frank Hays, 907-442-3890
Commercial Use Authorizations (CUA's) for Commercial Transporter Visitor Services for the Noatak National Preserve
The National Park Service has issued Commercial Use Authorizations (CUA's) for Commercial Transporter Visitor Services for the Noatak National Preserve (NOAT) since the Preserve's establishment in 1980.Much of the transporter service occurs during caribou season.
The far western portion of NOAT (i.e., west of the Kugururok River & Maiyumerak Mountains) receives a substantial amount of hunting use due to its proximity to Kotzebue.A number of sources over the past twenty years cite concerns that competition exists between non-federally qualified hunters and subsistence hunters for specific groups of caribou.For example, village representatives consistently state that activities associated with transporter visitor services (i.e. aircraft overflights, hunting, camping along migration corridors) actually alter local migration patterns or behavior, interfering with or even precluding subsistence hunting opportunities in those local areas.
In previous years, Commercial Transporter Visitor Services CUA's issued by Western Arctic National Parklands included a generic stipulation stating that transporters will seek to 'minimize potential conflicts with traditional subsistence hunters'.However, no specific guidance was provided.
In 2008/09 the NPS issued a moratorium on new transporters for 2008-09 (8 CUA's were issued for this period).The NPS issued a competitive solicitation for this service for 2010-11 (5 companies applied and all 5 were issued CUA's).The CUA holders were authorized to transport a cumulative total of 357 clients into NOAT each year.The 2010-11 CUA's also included a stipulation that transporters avoid conflicts with subsistence hunters but generally did not restrict where or when the 357 hunters could be dropped-off or picked-up.
The 2010-11 system unduly restricted transporters and did not adequately address the stipulation to minimize the potential for conflicts with traditional subsistence users.The 2010/2011 CUA's expired on 12/31/2011.The proposed action will renew the CUA's for 2012-13.
The NPS will implement the following changes for the 2012-13 CUA's:
- The limits on the number of transporters and clients will be eliminated.
- Commercial Transporter Visitor Services CUA holders will be authorized to transport non-federally qualified caribou hunters into the area west of the Kugururok River and Maiyumerak Mountains after September 15th unless authorized by the Superintendent to provide services before September 15th. See map.
- The Superintendent will consult with Commercial Transporter Visitor Services CUA holders, local villages and other agencies on a regular basis beginning on August 15 of each year to discuss the status of the caribou migration across the Noatak National Preserve.
- The State of Alaska Noatak Controlled Use Area is not affected by these conditions.
- Pilots of private aircraft are not affected by these conditions.
- Commercial Transporter Visitor Services for Dall Sheep and Moose sport hunters are not affected by the September 15 provision.
The CUA's will continue to include stipulations for transporter operations to protect wilderness values, visitor experience, and biological and cultural resources. The CUA stipulations will be reviewed by the Superintendent and revised as appropriate at the end of every year.