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Alaska State Permits for Protected Lands and Waters (12-AK-b)

Information current as of 2020
In Alaska, a person (developer) may need to obtain a permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s (ADF&G’s) Division of Habitat (ADF&G - Habitat) if the project will be conducted below the ordinary high water mark of an anadromous stream, if the project will affect fish passage in a fish-bearing stream, or if the project will use land or water within a designated special area.

State Permits for Protected Lands and Waters Process

12-AK-b.1 to 12-AK-b.2 – Will the Project Change the Natural Water Flow or Bed of a Waterbody Used by Anadromous or Other Fish?

The Anadromous Fish Act (AS 16.05.871-.901) requires that an individual or government agency provide prior notification and obtain permit approval from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) before altering “the natural flow or bed” of a specified waterbody or fish stream. All activities within or across a specified anadromous waterbody require approval from ADF&G - Habitat.

The Catalog of Waters Important for the Spawning, Rearing or Migration of Anadromous Fishes (Anadromous Waters Catalog) provides a list of waterbodies used by anadromous fish. The Anadromous Waters Catalog is updated annually and adopted into regulation (Alaska Admin. Code tit. 5 § 95.011) after public review. The catalog represents a legal record of known anadromous fish streams within the State.

The Fish Passage Act (AS 16.05.871) requires that an individual or government agency notify and obtain authorization from ADF&G - Habitat for activities within or across a stream used by fish if ADF&G – Habitat determines that such uses or activities could represent an impediment to the efficient passage of resident or anadromous fish.

Activities related to installation and operation of a hydroelectric project which may require a Fish Habitat Permit include:

  • Construction of access roads with stream crossings requiring bridges or culverts;
  • Temporary or permanent water withdrawal from lakes and streams;
  • Construction of diversion structures, dams, and water intake structures;
  • Construction of powerhouse facilities;
  • Installation of turbines or waterwheels in fish bearing streams; and
  • Alteration or interruption of instream flow which may affect fish habitat.

ADF&G also issues General Fish Habitat Permits for specific authorized stream crossings for various commonly used locations throughout the state for certain classes and types of vehicular crossings. Each permit has its own particularized stipulations, which all individuals must follow.

Fish Habitat Permit:

12-AK-b.3 to 12-AK-b.4 – Will the Project Be Located In a Refuge, Sanctuary, or Critical Habitat?

Special Areas refer to Alaska’s legislatively designated State Game Refuges, State Game Sanctuaries, and Critical Habitat Areas. State Game Refuges are established by the State Legislature to protect and preserve the natural habitat and game populations of certain designated areas of the state. Alaska Stat. § 16.20.020. State Game Sanctuaries are established to provide permanent protection to specific fish or wildlife species or habitats and to preserve these areas for scientific, aesthetic, and educational purposes. Critical Habitat Areas are established to “protect and preserve habitat areas especially crucial to the perpetuation of fish and wildlife, and to restrict all other uses not compatible with that primary purpose.” Alaska Stat. § 16.20.500. Although each of the different types of special areas has a different general purpose, all provide habitat protection. The Division of Habitat (ADF&G - Habitat) implements a statewide special areas permitting program to manage land and water use activities within each Special Area. By regulation, permits are required for many activities within a Special Area.

A developer may need to obtain a Special Area Permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Division of Habitat (ADF&G - Habitat) if transmission lines associated with the hydropower project will use land or water within a Special Area in the State.

Special Area Permit:

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