Skip to content
Back to Top

Shaktoolik Inter-Agency Planning Work Group


Meeting Agendas and Summaries Reports and Studies DCRA's Community Resilience Programs


Shaktoolik, a community on the eastern edge of Norton Sound, faces considerable threats from erosion and flooding. Government agencies consider Shaktoolik to be one of four communities in immediate need of relocation (GAO 2009), and the State of Alaska Immediate Action Workgroup included it in the six top-priority communities considered to be "at-risk" to the impacts of climate change. A clear plan of action with widespread community and agency support will increase Shaktoolik’s chances of receiving future funding.

Erosion, flooding, and severe storms are significant concerns to the community. Winters in Shaktoolik have been getting shorter and temperatures are increasing. Norton Sound is freezing up later, and so shore ice forms later. This shore ice provides an important barrier between the community and fall storms, so its lack has made the community more vulnerable to the storms. Recent storms have resulted in damage to community infrastructure and erosion at the old village site. During the storms, waves have brought driftwood and other debris into the community. If waves and storm surges increase, it could have a catastrophic impact on Shaktoolik. The community has recently decided to take a "defend in place" approach to erosion, which would allow residents to remain at the current village site for the immediate future. The community has indicated they are interested in eventually relocating.

Strategic Management Planning

From 2014 to 2016, Shaktoolik was engaged in a community planning process with the Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA) to develop the Shaktoolik Strategic Management Plan which provides a holistic approach for adapting to environmental threats and increasing community resilience to climate impacts and natural hazards. As part of the planning process, an Inter-Agency Planning Work Group was organized to serve as a vehicle for coordinating resources and technical assistance to Shaktoolik from state and federal agencies, regional organizations and local governments.

graphic of Shaktoolik's Strategic Focus Area Diagram
Click to view larger version of the Shaktoolik's Strategic Focus Area Diagram

The Shaktoolik Strategic Management Plan is organized by Strategic Focus Areas (see diagram, right) . Within each focus area, imminent and critical action items are identified first, followed by short-, medium-, and long-term action items. For each action item, the following details were identified:

  • Responsible Party: Which agency or organization has the primary responsibility for championing the action?
  • Potential Partners/Coordination: What entities may be willing to partner with the responsible party and how can the partnership be coordinated?
  • Timeframe for Implementation: When is the action item needed?
  • Estimated Cost: What is the planning level cost estimate(when available)?
  • Current Status: What is the current status of the project?
  • Reference: What is the source of the action item, if it originated from another community plan?

The action items were identified during the first year of community planning in the community and during the first two Interagency Planning Work Group Meetings. Completing these action items does not automatically mean Shaktoolik is a resilient community; resilience is a process of continual improvement.

Strategic Actions

Shaktoolik prioritized Strategic Actions based on community need:

  • Imminent Actions are those actions the community needs in place today to protect people from harm during a hazard event.
  • Critical Actions are those action items that, if not completed in 5 years, will result in a negative impact on community safety. Implementation of critical actions should be undertaken immediately with a goal of completing or substantially completing the action within 5 years. The identified critical actions are actions that are especially important for increasing community resiliency now.
  • Short Term Actions are those action items that can be realistically completed in 0-5 years
  • Medium Term Actions are those action items that can be realistically completed in 6-10 years
  • Long Term Actions action items that will take 11 years or more to complete

The current focus of the Shaktoolik Inter-Agency Planning Work Group is to help Shaktoolik implement the Imminent and Critical Actions from the Strategic Management Plan .

Conduct Emergency Planning and Drills: Shaktoolik needs to update their emergency plans and educate residents on what to do during an emergency. They also need to conduct a drill so people have the opportunity to practice the plans, become familiar with what is expected of them during an emergency, and identify whether the plan meets community needs or if changes need to be made. In July and August 2017, the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management helped Shaktoolik develop a Small Community Emergency Response Plan. Shaktoolik's community coordinator and the school principal plan to request training by the Red Cross to drill the plan.
Develop a Road to the Foothills Area: Shaktoolik needs a road to the Foothills area. This road would provide access to their preferred relocation site, a gravel site, and additional subsistence resources. This route has been consistently identified as one of Shaktoolik’s highest priority capital projects. It is estimated to cost approximately $50 million. The Denali Commission is providing funding for an Engineering Services Term Contract which will investigate the alignment of a road to the Shaktoolik foothills
Water and Wastewater Improvements: The community indicated that water and wastewater improvements are critical for the village. In particular, protection of the water source and a new water tank are essential. Residents are concerned that erosion along Tagoomenik River, Shaktoolik’s water source, could allow ocean water into the river, making it unsuitable for drinking. They are also concerned that the river could be contaminated from other sources such as the dump. Protecting the existing water source is vital because of the time and financial resources it would take to develop an alternative source. A new water tank is also needed because the existing tank is in poor condition.
Improve the Fuel Tank Farm: While one fuel tank farm was upgraded in 2015, many of the other remaining fuel tanks are in poor condition and are vulnerable to erosion. The community needs improvements to the remaining fuel tanks because, if they are damaged, the community may not be able to operate the power plant and there may be significant environmental impacts or negative impacts to subsistence resources. The Denali Commission is providing funding to the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative to develop the design for the renovation or replacement of the Shaktoolik co-located bulk fuel farm and associated distribution systems.
Replace the Health Clinic: The Shaktoolik Health Clinic is undersized and is vulnerable to extreme storms. A new clinic is needed to preserve the health of community residents.
Improve Housing: Access to safe, quality, and affordable housing is vital for any community. Community residents have expressed a need to improve the housing in Shaktoolik to address overcrowding, energy efficiency, affordability, and poor structural conditions.
Build an Evacuation Center: One of the biggest concerns in Shaktoolik is having a safe place to be during storms. Flooding events are expected to inundate the community with 1–3 feet of water, and there is no existing location within the community that would be above the water level. The school has been expanded and reinforced to use as a storm shelter; however, it is located on the coast and is not elevated high enough, which makes it vulnerable to coastal storms. The school is also not large enough to house the residents during a storm. Residents need an evacuation center so they have a place to use during and after a storm or other emergency.

The Denali Commission is providing funding for an Engineering Services Term Contract which will further the design on the evacuation center.

The Denali Commission is also providing funding to Shaktoolik to begin the conceptual design of a storm-surge mound for vertical evacuation.

Berm Improvements: In 2014, Shaktoolik constructed a 1-mile coastal berm to help protect against fall storm surges. The berm needs to be improved to be long-lasting and sustainable. Potential improvements include reinforcing the berm, vegetating the berm, and reducing the loss of gravel. The Denali Commission has provided funding to Shaktoolik for the design of shoreline protection measures for the reinforcement and extension of Shaktoolik's existing sand and drift wood berm.
Continue the Planning Committee: To assist with their resiliency efforts, Shaktoolik has a Planning Committee consisting of three members from the Shaktoolik City Council, Native Village of Shaktoolik IRA Council, and Shaktoolik Native Corporation board. Continuation of this committee would allow the community to develop a unified response and approach to resiliency-related issues and to support communication between the three entities. The Denali commission is providing funding to continue the work of a local coordinator as well as travel support.
Escape Route Lighting: The community would like to purchase floodlights and lighted buoys to assist with navigation during poor weather conditions. The Denali Commission is providing funding to Shaktoolik for escape route lighting

Contact for More Information

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