- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has announced plans to open up about one-quarter of the 6.5 million acres it manages in eastern Alaska to possible mining or oil and gas development.

As part of the plan revealed Friday, officials will also designate about 1 million acres as areas of critical environmental concern. The designation would protect the area by limiting off-road vehicle use and resource development, according to The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://bit.ly/2ankEJI).

The new areas being considered for mining or oil and gas operations are located outside the region’s existing protected areas, which include the White Mountains National Recreation Area and the Steese National Conservation Area. Rivers designated as Wild Scenic River corridors would also remain closed to resource extraction.

The federal agency plans to give three areas the critical environmental concern designation. About 623,000 acres in the Salmon Fork area will get the designation, along with 362,000 acres in the Fortymile area and 37,000 acres in the Mosquito Flats area.

BLM officials have to wait 30 days from the Friday release of the Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement to adopt any of its recommendations.

The complete plan marks the end of an administrative process that began with public meetings in 2008.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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