Intent To Prepare a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Community Relocation, Newtok, AK
The U.S. Army Engineer District, Alaska, intends to prepare a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to evaluate the feasibility of erosion protection measures for the community of Newtok, Alaska. Newtok, population 284 (2000 census), is a coastal community situated on the west bank of the Newtok River, just north of the Ninglick River and approximately 9 miles northwest of Nelson island, The Ninglick River connects the Bering Sea with the Baird Inlet, located farther upstream from Newtok. The village is located 94 miles northwest of Bethel, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Western Alaska. The north, east, and south boundaries of the community are contiguous with the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The Newtok community is approximately 735 feet to the south of the encroaching Ninglick River, which is eroding toward the village at an average rate of 64 feet per year. Thermal degradation of the riverbank is causing shoreline sloughing. A typical soil profile has deep-frozen silts layered with peat at the surface. Permafrost continuously underlies a 2-foot active layer (sometimes thicker when a greater layer of peat is present). The shoreline is highly vulnerable to flooding, especially during spring ice jams in the river or during severe westerly windstorms on the Bering Sea. The programmatic DEIS will determine whether Federal action is warranted and will define alternative actions for Congressional consideration. Site specific alternatives will be addressed in more detail in a second tier of the EIS process.