Newtok Planning Group

NEPA Documentation

Environmental review to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has taken place for several federally funded relocation projects at Mertarvik over the past decade.  These documents are provided below, with a brief description of each project.

2017 Denali Commission Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mertarvik Infrastructure Development Project

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 EIS for the Mertarvik Infrastructure Development Project. The EIS for the proposed project will be prepared pursuant to NEPA, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA, and Denali Commission (Commission) NEPA Implementing Procedures (45 CFR Part 900). 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.

March 29, 2017 Agency Scoping Meeting

February 7, 2017 Kick-off Meeting

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Baseline Studies

2017 Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), Environmental Assessment for Newtok Relocation Project

BIA has adopted the Environmental Assessment (EA) completed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in which a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was issued on September 14, 2016. This decision is consistent with 43 CFR 4.120(D) use of existing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents by supplementing, tiering to, incorporating by reference, or adopting previous NEPA environmental analyses to avoid redundancy and unnecessary paperwork.

The proposed action included many components:
  • 1920 linear feet of roads
  • Construction/relocation of 15 homes
  • 15 driveways and gravel pads
  • The potential of the proposed action to impact the human environment was analyzed in the previously approved EA, as required by NEPA. The BIA revisited the information within the document and determined that the document adequately assessed the environmental effects and reasonable alternatives. Based on that EA and BIA's review of current information, BIA has determined that the proposed action will not significantly affect the quality of the human or natural environment. In accordance with Section 102(2)( c) of NEPA, as amended, an Environmental Impact Statement is not required.

    2016 U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Part 50 Environmental Review

    HUD's environmental review determined the potential affect that its activity through the Indian Community Development Block Grant Program under HUD grant B-l 6-SR-02-1106 and the Tribal Housing Activities Loan Guarantee Program Title VI Loan will have on the environment at Mertarvik. The proposed project is located at Sec. 34, T9N, R86W and Sec. 2, TSN, R87W, Seward Meridian in Mertarvik, Alaska. The proposed project activities include the development and construction of a village center, development of lots for houses, fuel tank farm, power plant, multi-purpose building, water plant for a laundry facility and water well, community hall, church, public safety building, community clinic, post office, library, store, school and teacher housing. Plans include a 2.5-mile road in the proposed site and a 3-mile road to the quarry. The site has plans for 25 lots for housing with each lot about .75 acres in size for an estimated total of 100 acres of wetland.

    2016 Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Environmental Review for Mertarvik Road Development
    2015-2016 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Environmental Review for 12 Home Relocation

    Through this EA, FEMA initiated the assessment of the impacts of relocating 12 homes from Newtok to Mertarvik, associated road construction, interim utilities to support occupancy of the homes once in Mertarvik, and other ‘connected actions’ funded or planned by non-federal entities that will require outlining in the environmental assessment. The environmental assessment is not yet complete.

    2011 Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training Program (IRT) FONSI for Mertarvik Access Road and Quarry Development

    The Department of Defense's EA and FONSI amended and supplemented the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' 2008 EA and FONSI. The Department of Defense subsequently modified and adopted the EA in January 2010. Plans for the action substantially changed during the summer and autumn of 2010, and the EA was further amended to bring those changes to the public and the Federal decisionmaker before IRT continued relocation activities at Mertarvik in 2011. Changes in the proposed action that required this amendment include:

    • Evacuation center changes in size, configuration, and location
    • Wastewater treatment changes and other utilities changes for the center
    • A quarry site is identified and conceptual plans for developing the quarry are presented
    • Road alignment changes for the main access road and for other project roads
    • Staging, turnarounds, and other construction fills to support the construction camp and the evacuation center are identified
    • Temporary roads or trails are identified for construction, including a pioneer trail from the existing road to the quarry site, and restoration of trails is discussed
    2008 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Review for Mertarvik Evacuation Center

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assessed the environmental effects of an emergency evacuation center at Mertarvik, including the following construction features:

    • An access road from a barge landing that will be constructed by the State of Alaska
    • A 13,000-square-foot building on a 32,400 square-foot gravel pad. The center will be designed to shelter 150 people, but could temporarily shelter up to 300 people until evacuation to other shelters or communities could be organized. The population of Newtok is about 350 people, but not all people are expected to need evacuation during most emergencies. The total area of the project is estimated to be 33.34 acres.
    • A service road to the water well drilled by the State of Alaska
    • A sewage lagoon and land fill with a service road
    • A road to a quarry site. Diesel generators for electrical power will be provided.

    An EA for this action was released for NEPA review in March 2008. This EA was revised from the March 2008 EA to accommodate a change in the location of the barge landing by the State of Alaska and recommendations from a value engineering review. It also provided additional information requested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    2006 Economic Development Administration (EDA) Environmental Review for Mertarvik Barge Landing and Staging Area

    EDA assessed the environmental impact of a barge landing facility at Mertarvik consisting of a 20-foot wide barge ramp, approximately 60 foot by 120 foot upland multiuse staging area, and a float system for resident and transient vessels. The location identified was the closest to the navigable deep water channel of the Ninglick River according to Newtok residents and preliminary site investigations.


    For more information contact:

    Sally Russell Cox

    Division of Community and Regional Affairs
    Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
    Phone: 907-269-4588
    Email: sally.cox@alaska.gov