The Denali Commission, in cooperation with the Newtok Village Council (NVC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), is initiating the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mertarvik Infrastructure Development Project. A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS was published in the Federal Register on March 3, 2017. This EIS will assess the potential environmental impacts of reconstructing all required village infrastructure at the new village site of Mertarvik on Nelson Island. This action is needed without delay to avoid the potential loss of life and/or the indefinite dislocation of Newtok Village residents associated with the relentless migration of the Ninglick River.
For more information, please visit the project page here.
The Newtok Planning Group was formed in May 2006 when representatives from state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations began meeting with Newtok to coordinate assistance for the relocation of the community to a new village site on Nelson Island. The relocation site is called Mertarvik, which in Yup’ik means, “getting water from the spring.”
The village of Newtok is threatened by advancing erosion caused by the Ninglick River adjacent to the village. This progressive erosion, in combination with permafrost degradation and flooding of the village during seasonal storms has created a serious threat to the existence of the village. Years of erosion studies have concluded that Newtok must relocate as there is no permanent and cost-effective alternative for remaining at the current village site.
In 2006, Newtok Village requested the assistance of the Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA), within the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED), with Newtok's relocation effort. DCCED is directed by two Alaska Administrative Orders (AO 231 and AO 239) "to act as the state coordinating agency to coordinate with the other state and federal agencies to propose long-term solutions to the ongoing erosion issues in... affected coastal communities..." Consistent with this directive, DCRA organized the Newtok Planning Group (NPG) to coordinate assistance to Newtok on the relocation effort.
The NPG has convened regularly since its formation, working with Newtok and across agencies to leverage resources, secure funding, and to establish a framework and strategy for moving the relocation process forward. Download a list of the participants in the NPG.
Through the unique partnership of the NPG, a range of initiatives, studies, and pioneer infrastructure projects has been completed or is currently underway at Mertarvik. Collaboration among Newtok and state and federal agencies has been behind the success of every project. The timeline below highlights many of the relocation activities coordinated through the NPG over the past decade.
Most of these activities involved the collaboration of multiple agencies.
(Click timeline to open full-sized version.)
The photo below shows the pioneer infrastructure developed at Mertarvik through the coordination of the NPG.
(Click photo to open full-sized version.)
To learn more about the relocation efforts currently underway for Newtok and the new village site, Mertarvik, please see "Relocation Activities" in the Resources Section, below.
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1640
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4588 FAX: (907) 269-4066