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Newtok Planning Group

Working together for the safe and healthy future of Newtok at Mertarvik

Mertarvik, October 2019. Photo: Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation (UIC)

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.”

Mertarvik Logo

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.

Severe erosion of bank of the Ninglick River threatens Newtok homes, Photo: Romy Cadiente

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.

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.


A Brief History of the Settlement of Newtok and Village Relocation Efforts Meeting Minutes/Agendas
April 25, 2022 Meeting Materials December 2, 2020 Meeting Materials 2019 Meeting Materials 2018 Meeting Materials 2017 Meeting Materials 2016 Meeting Materials 2015 Meeting Materials 2014 Meeting Materials 2012 Meeting Materials 2011 Meeting Materials 2010 Meeting Materials 2009 Meeting Materials 2008 Meeting Materials 2007 Meeting Materials 2006 Meeting Materials
Relocation Activities Newtok Planning Group Documents Reports and Studies
Maps and Aerial Photos Mertarvik Site Visit Photos DCRA's Community Resilience Programs

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) 269-4066

Revised 03/01/2023