Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments.
The Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG) is a consortium of ten Alaska Native Villages stretched across 35-million acres of tribal, state, federal and private land known as the Yukon Flats. The villages that make up CATG are Arctic Village, Beaver, Birch Creek, Canyon, Chalkyitsik, Circle, Fort Yukon, Rampart, Stevens and Venetie. The CATG Board of Directors is comprised by the ten elected village chiefs.
The easiest way to travel to the CATG area is by air – about 145 air miles from Fairbanks - though barges do travel the Yukon River inland from the Bering Sea nearly 2,000 miles to the area.
The Yukon Flats area is rich in fish, caribou, moose, skins/hides, and timber resources.
The remote location of the Yukon Flats area, the residents’ strong cultural ties to the land, and an abundance of natural resources present a unique set of challenges and opportunities in meetings CATG’s mission of “protecting and managing traditional tribal lands and resources for future generations.”
CATG has a long history of active management and conservation of natural resources to sustain traditions while seeking economic self-sufficiency. The CATG board was successful in forming one of Alaska’s eight Resource Conservation and Development areas. The RC&D has assisted in projects such as “Traditional Land Use Mapping,” “Forest Stewardship Planning and Inventories,” “Value-Added Forest Products Research and Development,” and the development of a e-commerce Web site featuring crafts created from the areas natural resources.
The RC&D has been instrumental in helping to develop baseline resource data in the area and putting the data to use through training and planning.
CATG created one of the state’s first management plans for moose with assistance from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. And CATG works with a host of state and federal agencies as it seeks to achieve its conservation goals. And the council now seeks to re-establish wood bison in the grazing lands of Fort Yukon to supplement their subsistence and cash economies. Wood bison were plentiful in Interior Alaska up until the late 19th century.
A priority of CATG is the development of sustainable, renewable energy. The price of heating fuel throughout rural Alaska far exceeds the limitations of the mixed subsistence/cash economies. For the past several years, NRCS has funded the research and development of a test project, titled “Integrated Systems Approach for Wood Energy in Alaska Rural Villages.” The project will result in new conservation practice standards for forest management for energy production, and the development of village-based forest and wildlife habitat management plans.
The goal of the project is to displace up to 90 percent of diesel fuel used in interior Alaska for heat. The project is led by Alaska Village Initiatives with additional partners such as the Yukon Flats RC&D Council, U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Department of Forestry, and the Alaska Energy Authority, and additional state and federal agencies and private enterprise.
Once this project has been tested, refined and demonstrated, it promises not only to create a new economic base and industry in rural Alaska, but also new resource management practices and standards that can be replicated throughout the state.
Cutline: Local residents enjoy the bounties of abundant natural resources. The Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments is working with NRCS to ensure those resources are used wisely to generations yet to come.