Client: US Coast Guard
Location: Port Clarence, Alaska
Completion Year: 2020
Scope of Work:
- Decision Document
- CERCLA Compliance
- Land Divestiture
In 2020, with the help of Brice Engineering, 2,200 acres of land were duly returned to the 8,000 native Alaskans who comprise the Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC). As a part of its Alaska Native Settlement Claims Act (ANSCA) entitlement, BSNC had selected Point Clarence for reclamation in 1977. But the land was still in active use by the US Coast Guard (USCG) who owned and operated a long-range navigation station (LORSTA) at the site. When the Port Clarence LORSTA became obsolete, it was decommissioned in 2010, allowing BSNC to once again pursue the return of their native land.
ANCSA is one of three laws that govern the transfer of 45.7 million acres of aboriginal lands in Alaska. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers the program under the Alaska Land Transfer Program—the biggest land transfer program in the country. To date, 96 percent of native Alaskan lands have been returned under ANCSA, leaving 1.8 million-acres yet to be settled. When the land became available in 2013, BSNC resubmitted its claim to the BLM. The next seven years proved to be a complex navigation of the environmental legalities that govern land divestiture from federal entities to non-federal entities, including compliance with Section 120(h) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA).
The USCG contracted Brice Engineering in 2018 to address these final environmental requirements, making the long-awaited divestiture imminent. Working under the leadership of USCG Commander Nathan Rumsey, BENG was tasked with supporting the divestiture as a third-party facilitator to conduct regular meetings and successfully kept a cadre of diverse stakeholders focused on the end goal. By June 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, a signing ceremony was held via teleconference, marking the official return of lands to the Native Alaskans of the BSNC.