Alaska Special Area Permit (12-AK-d)
Special Area Permit Process
12-AK-d.1 – Special Area Permit Application
Before beginning construction within a Special Area, developers must submit a Special Area Permit Application to the ADF&G - Habitat for any habitat altering activity or any activity which disturbs fish or wildlife other than lawful hunting, trapping, and fishing within these areas.
The following activities within a Special Area require a Special Area Permit:
- Construction, placement, or continuing use of any improvement, structure, or real property;
- Destruction of vegetation;
- Detonation of an explosive other than a firearm;
- Excavation, surface or shoreline altering activity, dredging, filling, draining, or flooding;
- Natural resource or energy exploration, development, production, or associated activities;
- Water diversion or withdrawal;
- Off-road use of wheeled or tracked equipment, unless there is a General Permit issued for the area, under 5 AAC 95.770;
- Waste disposal, placement, or use of a toxic substance;
- Any other activity that is likely to have a significant effect on vegetation, drainage, water quality, soil stability, fish, wildlife, or their habitat, or which disturbs fish or wildlife other than lawful hunting, trapping, fishing, viewing, and photography.
ADF&G also issues Special Area General Permits for some common, minimal impact activities in certain Special Areas.
The application must include the following:
- The purpose of the project or activity;
- The timeframe for the project or activity, including the specific time periods for any inwater work or other activities which may disturb fish or wildlife;
- A description of construction methods, types, and quantities of equipment and number of people involved;
- A description of water use including methods of withdrawal, rate of withdrawal, and the total quantity of water required;
- A list of fill and excavation quantities, including the types of material and the source;
- A scaled map and description showing how access will be gained to the project area;
- A detailed map or plain view, drawn to scale, and any cross-sectional views necessary to show project features and local topography, including the location of all facilities and project dimensions; and
- A current aerial photograph of the project location, if available.
For additional information, developers should contact the area office closest to the project location.
12-AK-d.2 to 12-AK-d.3 – Review Application
Upon receipt, ADF&G - Habitat will review the application. If the application meets all procedural requirements of 5 AAC 95.700 – 5 AAC 95.760, ADF&G - Habitat will issue a Special Area Permit for any of the activities listed above if those activities meet or can be conditioned to meet the following standards:
- The use or activity is consistent with the protection of fish and wildlife and their use, protection of fish and wildlife habitat, and the purpose for which the special area was established; and
- The use or activity does not unduly restrict or interfere with the public use and enjoyment of the resource values for which the special area was established; and
- Any adverse effect upon fish and wildlife, and their habitats, and any restriction or interference with public use, is mitigated in accordance with 5 AAC 95.900.
If ADF&G - Habitat denies the application it will notify the developer in writing and will include in its notice the reason for the denial and a statement that the applicant may appeal under 5 AAC 95.920 or submit new or additional information and ask for reconsideration of the application. 5 AAC 95.710.
12-AK-d.4 to 12-AK-d.5 – Does the Developer Accept ADF&G - Habitat’s Decision?
If the developer disagrees with ADF&G - Habitat’s denial of the Special Area Permit, he may appeal the decision or ask for a reconsideration of the permit application upon submittal of new or additional information. 5 AAC 95.710.
12-AK-d.6 – Submit New or Additional Information?
If the developer asks for a reconsideration of the permit application, he may submit new or additional information as an amendment to the original application, or he may submit a new application. 5 AAC 95.710.
12-AK-d.7 – Special Area Permit
If ADF&G - Habitat approves the permit application it will issue a Special Area Permit to the developer. However, ADF&G - Habitat may condition the approval of the permit to provide for the proper protection and management of fish and wildlife, and their habitats. The conditions may include:
- The duration of the proposed activity, including any provision for changing the time period during which the permit is valid and any provision for changing the effective time period of the permit;
- Any other seasonal use restrictions on a specific activity;
- Limitation of the extent of the activity;
- Any provision for the mitigation of damage to fish or wildlife, or their habitats;
- Any provision to facilitate periodic monitoring of the proposed land or water use or activity by an authorized representative of the state, including inspection and sampling;
- Reporting requirements;
- Any provision for the posting of a performance bond or other surety as authorized in 5 AAC 95.950, necessary to ensure compliance with the provisions of this chapter or conditions of the permit; and/or
- Any other necessary condition.
As a condition of project approval, the developer must compensate fully for damage to fish and wildlife and their habitat by employing the most appropriate techniques.
ADF&G - Habitat may require the developer to sign and date the permit before its validation as acknowledgement of the developer’s agreement to, and full understanding of, all conditions of the permit. 5 AAC 95.720(c).
The developer must keep a copy of the permit at the project location until the project’s completion, and must make it available for inspection upon request by an authorized representative of the state. 5 AAC 95.750.
If the hydropower project will be subject to a FERC license or exemption, ADF&G - Habitat personnel will work closely with their counterparts in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s (ADF&G’s) Statewide Aquatic Resources Coordination Unit (ADF&G - SARCU) to ensure that any terms and conditions proposed for the FERC license by the ADF&G will not contradict stipulations or requirements included in the Special Area Permit. Because ADF&G - Habitat’s statutory authority is limited to work conducted below the mean high water mark, ADF&G - SARCU may provide conditions and recommendations that are above and beyond the scope of ADF&G - Habitat’s statutory authority.
For more information on ADF&G’s process for issuing conditions or recommendations for a FERC license or exemption—in order to protect, mitigate damage to, or enhance fish and wildlife resources—see:
12-AK-d.8 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)
Any person, including the developer or another interested person, may initiate an appeal of ADF&G - Habitat’s decision under AS 44.62.330 – 44.62.630 by requesting a hearing. 5 AAC 95.920. The hearing request must identify the matter and state the factual and legal grounds for the request. Hearing proceedings are conducted by a qualified, unbiased, and impartial hearing officer. AS 44.62.350. After the hearing, the hearing officer will issue a final decision, copies of which will be sent to all parties. AS 44.62.510.
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