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Alaska Community Coastal Protection Project

Shaktoolik Project Page

Shaktoolik Interagency Planning Committee Agendas and Meeting Notes Shaktoolik Community Gathering Documents Shaktoolik Strategic Management Plan Documents Shaktoolik Reports and Studies DCRA's Community Resilience Programs

Shaktoolik is a traditional Malemiut (Iñupiat) community in Alaska’s Bering Strait region. The village is located near the northern end of a sand spit bordered by the Tagoomenik River to the east and Norton Sound to the west. Residents moved to the current village site in 1975, located about a mile north of the former village, because of flooding and erosion concerns at the former village site.

The community’s location leaves it vulnerable to erosion when fall storms hit the sand and gravel spit where the village is located. There is no breakwater to protect the village from destructive waves from Norton Sound when storms come from the south. Considerable coastline erosion in the community occurred during recent storms in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Most of the Shaktoolik community and surrounding area lie within the 100-year floodplain. The village is extremely vulnerable to coastal sea storms. Erosion during flooding damaged the village airstrip so extensively it was replaced. In October 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a coastal flooding analysis of Shaktoolik. The analysis indicated that in a 1% (or 100-year) flood event, the storm water level would overtop the entire community. There are no structures in the village with a finished flood elevation higher than the 100-year storm level.

Photo of the village of Shaktoolik, 2016, Source: Sally Russell Cox, DCRA

Shaktoolik’s Community Resilience Project

The Native Village of Shaktoolik IRA Council expressed the desire to develop a comprehensive strategy to increase Shaktoolik’s resilience over the next 10-20 years. This process was accomplished in the following steps:


A Community Coordinator was hired by the Native Village of Shaktoolik IRA Council to represent Shaktoolik and work with the Planning Team (the DCRA project manager and contractors from HDR and Rim First People).

The first year of the project was spent working directly with the Shaktoolik community to gather information on the community’s vision for the future, and local issues, values, goals and objectives that would inform the development of the Strategic Management Plan.

  • A Literature Review of the reports and studies prepared for Shaktoolik (many of these documents are available under the “Reports and Studies” drop-down menu.

The Community Coordinator conducted a series of door-to-door surveys, interviews and classroom exercises to increase understanding of what was important to residents of Kivalina:

  • A Community Background Survey introduced the Strategic Management Plan project to community members, assessed their knowledge of previous planning activities and helped the Planning Team understand the needs and concerns of the community, especially regarding the natural hazards threatening the community.
  • A Community Values Survey to help the Planning Team understand community members’ top values and therefore, priorities for the Strategic Management Plan
  • A Classroom Exercise to help the Planning Team understand the vision of Shaktoolik’s youth and what they hope their community will be like in the future
  • Elder Interviews to help the Planning Team understand the change village elders have seen and what their hopes are for their descendants
  • A Community Gathering was held at the end of the first year involving all members of the Shaktoolik community. The combined community issues and values gathered were presented in poster-format and participants were asked to rank their top three issues and values. The results of the Community Gathering and the surveys, interviews and classroom were compiled into a Background Planning Report that would inform the development of the Strategic Management Plan in the second year.


The second year brought the community together with state and federal agencies and organizations, Inter-Agency Planning Work Groups, to begin the development of the Strategic Management Plan. Based on the community issues, values and priorities identified in Year One, the group identified Strategic Focus Areas that would be the focus of the Strategic Management Plan. Because the intent of the plan was to increase community resilience, this process needed to be comprehensive and holistic. Eight Strategic Focus Areas were identified:

graphic of Shaktoolik's Strategic Focus Area Diagram

  • Adaptable Built Environment
  • Safe and Sanitary Housing
  • Jobs and Economic Development
  • Proactive Emergency Management
  • Strengthened Traditional Culture
  • Leadership for the Future
  • Relocation
  • Other

Based on the eight Strategic Focus Areas, a Preliminary Planning Schedule, was prepared to guide the planning process. A Work Breakdown Structure, identified the broad range of Strategic Actions, to increase community resilience within each Strategic Focus Area. The Strategic Actions were then ranked by whether they were Imminent Actions (those actions the community needs in place today to protect people from harm during a hazard event), Critical Actions (those action items that, if not completed in 5 years, will result in a negative impact on community safety) , or Short-Term (strategic actions that can be realistically completed in 0-5 years) , Medium-Term (strategic actions that can be realistically completed in 6-10 years) or Long-Term Actions (strategic actions that will take 11 years or more to complete) .

The Shaktoolik Strategic Management Plan was completed in 2016. Together with the Strategic Management Plans for Kivalina and Shishmaref, Shaktoolik's Strategic Management Plan received a National Recognition Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) for ACEC's 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards.

Shaktoolik Inter-Agency Planning Work Group

The Alaska Community Coastal Protection Project was completed in 2016, however the Inter-Agency Planning Work Groups that were formed as part of the project still meet to help the three communities implement the strategic actions of their Strategic Management Plans. The Shaktoolik Inter-Agency Planning Work Group has a new web page where progress on the implementation of the Shaktoolik Strategic Management Plan is being documented.

For more information contact:

Sally Russell Cox
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1650
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4588
FAX: (907) 269-4563

Revised 03/08/2023