Bristol Bay — Critical Habitat Area
Management Plan - Development - June 2011


In 1972 the Alaska Legislature established five state critical habitat areas (CHAs; § 2 ch 140 SLA 1972) at major estuaries along the southern shore of Bristol Bay. These areas were legislatively designated in order to protect natural habitat and game populations, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. As one heads from north to south along the Alaska Peninsula, the Bristol Bay CHAs are as follows: Egegik CHA at the mouth of Egegik River; Pilot Point CHA at the mouths of King Salmon and Ugashik rivers; Cinder River CHA at the mouth of Cinder River and Mud Creek; Port Heiden CHA at the mouth of Meshik River; and Port Moller CHA in Port Moller itself and near the mouth of the Sapsuk River. Together, the five Bristol Bay CHAs encompass approximately 284,050 acres, including state lands, waters, and tide and submerged lands.

The purpose of the Bristol Bay Critical Habitat Areas Management Plan is to provide consistent, long-range guidance to ADF&G in managing the critical habitat areas. This draft plan presents management goals for the five critical habitat areas and their resources; it also identifies polices to be used in determining whether proposed activities are compatible with the protection of fish and wildlife, their habitats, and public use of the critical habitat areas. The goals and policies in the final plan will be adopted as regulation.

The plan addresses activities that may affect fish and wildlife habitat, fish and wildlife populations, and public use of those resources. The plan does not address hunting, trapping, and fishing, or other topics that are the responsibility of the Alaska Board of Game or the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

What's Happening Now

ADF&G is distributing copies of the second Public Review Draft (PRD) of the Bristol Bay Critical Habitat Areas Management Plan and requesting comments from the general public on this plan. The second PRD addresses comments received during the March 2010 public review and addresses management of private lands within the CHAs. The initial public draft plan only addressed management of state lands and waters. The current PRD addresses land use activities on private lands within the boundaries of the CHAs, in addition to state lands and waters. These public comments will be used in the development of the final management plan.

You may download a copy of the Public Review Draft of the Bristol Bay Critical Habitat Areas Management Plan using the links below.

Hard copies of the Public Review draft will be available from ADF&G offices in Anchorage, Kodiak, and King Salmon as well as from local public libraries in Egegik, Pilot Point, Port Heiden, and Nelson Lagoon.

The draft plan is available for public review and comment through August 12, 2011.

You may submit written comments to


Bristol Bay Critical CHA Management Plan
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Habitat Section
333 Raspberry Road
Anchorage, AK 99518-1565

The Management Planning Process

The department began by holding public scoping meetings to better identify the issues that should be addressed by the plan. We held meetings in five local communities during 2008: Egegik, November 5;Pilot Point, November 6; King Salmon, November 7; Port Heiden, November 12; and Nelson Lagoon, November 13. In addition, ADF&G staff held a meeting in Anchorage on November 18. We prepared draft maps depicting critical habitat area boundaries, fish and wildlife and their habitats, and land ownership and made them available at the meetings.

After public scoping, we formed a planning team, representing federal, state, and local agency representatives with responsibilities on critical habitat area lands. The team developed the draft management plan based on:

  1. the issues identified at the public meetings,
  2. critical habitat area resource values,
  3. the purpose for which the areas were established, and
  4. additional guidance provided in law.

The public review draft of the management plan includes a summary of the public meetings and an analysis of management issues and policies to address those issues. The plan also includes management goals for the CHAs and their resources, and presents policies to be used in determining what types of activities are compatible with the purposes for which the CHAs were established.

We conducted a public review of the draft management plan in March 2010. Since that time, ADF&G and the planning team have revised draft goals and policies to address land use activities on private lands in accordance with Alaska Statute 16.20.520-530. Prior to the development of a second Public Review Draft Plan, we contacted potentially affected private landowners requesting participation in the planning process. The private landowners included the four village corporations owning the surface estate and two regional corporations owning the subsurface estate. In addition, we solicited input from approximately 16 native allottees owning land within the boundaries of the CHAs.

The department will develop the final management plan based on comments received during the public review process. The Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will adopt the final plan, and the goals and revised policies will be codified pursuant to the Alaska Administrative Procedures Act.

More Information

For more information on the planning process, please contact the Habitat Section at (907) 267-2342.