DOI News

Secretary Letter on Federal Subsistence Board Implementation


                                    December 17, 2010

Mr. Tim Towarak
Chair, Federal Subsistence Board
P. O. Box 89
Unalakleet, Alaska 99684

Dear Mr. Towarak:

First, I want to thank you for your service on the Federal Subsistence Board (FSB). I recognize that your work represents a significant commitment of time and energy to a task that is complex and often controversial.  

Under the terms of the Title VIII of ANILCA, we have a duty to provide an effective program that serves rural residents of Alaska. In October 2009, at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention, I announced a review of the Federal subsistence program to ensure that the program is best serving rural Alaskans and that the letter and spirit of Title VIII are being met. That review, conducted through my Alaska Affairs office, included meetings with stakeholder groups and individuals throughout Alaska as well as Federal, State, and local officials. Following an analysis of the wide variety of comments, concerns, and suggestions expressed, a number of recommendations for programmatic changes were presented for consideration. On August 31, 2010, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and I announced our decision to pursue a number of those recommendations to provide a more responsive, more effective subsistence program. A copy of the press release is enclosed for your information.

 A number of these proposed actions are best accomplished by the FSB. With concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture, I respectfully request that the FSB initiate the following actions at the earliest practical time:

  1. Develop a proposed regulation to increase the membership on the FSB to include two additional public members representing subsistence users;

  2. As a matter of policy, expand deference to appropriate Regional Advisory Council (RAC) recommendations in addition to “takings” decisions of the Board provided for under Section 805(c) of ANILCA, subject to the three exceptions found in that Section;

  3. Review, with RAC input, the December 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State to determine either the need for the MOU or the need for potential changes to clarify federal authorities in regard to the subsistence program;

  4. Review, with RAC input, and present recommendations for changes to Federal subsistence procedural and structural regulations (Parts A&B of the CFRs) adopted from the State in order to ensure Federal authorities are fully reflected and in accord with subsistence priorities provided for in Title VIII;

  5. Review, with RAC input, the customary and traditional use determination process and present recommendations for regulatory changes;

  6. Review, with RAC input, rural/nonrural determination process and present recommendations for regulatory changes;

  7. Review the Board’s written policy on executive sessions and minimize the use of executive sessions to those cases specifically prescribed;

  8. At the request of the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and under Departmental procedures, review and submit recommendations for Departmental consideration of the annual budget for the Federal subsistence program;

  9. Ensure the Secretaries are informed when non-Department rule-making entities develop regulations that may adversely affect subsistence users;

  10. To the extent practicable, utilize contracting and use of ANILCA Section 809 cooperative agreements with local tribes and other entities in the Board’s review and approval of proposals for fulfilling subsistence program elements; and

  11. Prepare and submit a status report on these actions to me, with a copy to the Secretary of Agriculture, within a year of this letter.

Again, thank you for your service. I look forward to further recommendations the FSB may have to strengthen our subsistence management program.  

An identical letter is being sent to Ms. Beth Pendelton, Alaska Regional Forester.


/s/ Ken Salazar

Ken Salazar