Alaska Arctic Policy Commission listens to community input

Arctic Ocean

Clouds over the Arctic Ocean. (Photo by Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard)

The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission held a listening session yesterday in Anchorage. The aim was to get more statewide input, especially from the Alaska Native community, on how the Commission should try to shape future Arctic policy.

The commissioners and people making comments discussed what they can and cannot control in the changing Arctic. They also heard a push for the Alaska Legislature to start thinking of itself as a body that’s part of a broader community.

Representative Benny Nageak from Barrow attended the meeting. He says people from the Arctic want to make sure their voices are heard, especially since they still rely on the natural resources of the area, like marine mammals.

He says his community understands their needs may be unique, but they live under state, national, and international governments. “And so we’ve learned how to work within the system. And as you can see from what you heard today, we’re not new to this.”

Nageak says his Arctic community needs to be involved in government and business decision making to protect their resources.

The Council will use the input and other public comments to produce a final report for the state’s legislature early next year. The report outlines Alaska’s written policy recommendations on topics ranging from scientific research to resource development to environmental protection in the Arctic.