The Federal Subsistence Board is meeting in Anchorage this week to discuss several topics -- including whether to change the process by which villages are determined to be rural for subsistence purposes.
The board is reviewing public comments submitted over the last year before it decides whether to recommend changes to the process.
Only the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture departments can ultimately alter the rural determination process. Under the current rules, communities with more than 7,000 people would be considered non-rural, unless they possess significant “rural characteristics.”
The towns of Bethel, Sitka, Kodiak and Ketchikan all have populations at or near that number. Many groups, including corporations formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and tribes, are asking to increase the threshold to a higher number.
“We get a lot of comments insisting on the importance of subsistence itself and how communities think that it's been undervalued in the process of making rural determinations,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Subsistence Policy Coordinator David Jenkins.
The meeting will run until Thursday at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service building at 1011 E. Tudor Rd. The review processes repeats every 10 years.