Chapter 15 SLA 09 allocates a portion of the State of Alaska's CIAP funds to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development for legislatively-named recipents. The City and Borough of Yakutat was appropriated $258,329 through this legislation for capital projects. These funds are being administered through the Community Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CCIAP).
The City and Borough of Yakutat is a Home Rule Borough located along the lowlands of the Gulf of Alaska, 225 miles northwest of Juneau and 220 miles southeast of Cordova. The community is located at the mouth of Yakutat Bay, one of the few refuges for vessels along this stretch of coast. Yakutat Borough is within and surrounded by the Tongass National Forests, Wrangell St-Elias National Park and Preserve, and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve . Yakutat receives some of the heaviest precipitation in the state, averaging 132 inches of precipitation and 219 inches of snowfall. Yakutat has a population of 590 (2008 DCCED Certified Population), a coastal area of 2,479 square miles, and 1,074 miles of coastline.
The original settlers of the area are believed to have been Eyak-speaking people from the Copper River region who were conquered by the Tlingits. Yakutat means "the place where the canoes rest." The Russian-American Co. built a fort in Yakutat in 1805 to harvest sea otter pelts. Because the Russians would not allow local Tlingits access to their traditional fisheries, a Tlingit war party attacked and destroyed the post. In 1884, the Alaska Commercial Co. opened a store in Yakutat. By 1886, the black sand beaches in the area were being mined for gold. In 1889, the Swedish Free Mission Church had opened a school and sawmill in the area. A cannery, sawmill, store, and railroad were constructed beginning in 1903 by the Stimson Lumber Co. Most residents moved to the current site of Yakutat to be closer to the cannery, which operated through 1970. During World War II, a large aviation garrison and paved runway were constructed. Troops were withdrawn after the war, but the runway is still in use. The City of Yakutat was formed in 1948, but, in 1992, the city was dissolved and a borough was organized for the region.
After the purchase of Alaska by the U.S. in 1867, Sitka remained the capital of the Alaska territory until 1906, when the seat of government was moved to Juneau. A Presbyterian missionary, Sheldon Jackson, started a school, and in 1878 one of the first canneries in Alaska was built in Sitka. During the early 1900s, gold mines contributed to its growth, and the city was incorporated in 1913. During World War II, the town was fortified and the U.S. Navy built an air base on Japonski Island across the harbor, with 30,000 military personnel and over 7,000 civilians. After the war, the BIA converted some of the buildings to be used as a boarding school for Alaska Natives, Mt. Edgecumbe High School. The U.S. Coast Guard now maintains the air station and other facilities on the Island. A large pulp mill began operations at Silver Bay in 1960. In 1971, the city and borough governments were unified. Sitka offers abundant resources and a diverse economy.
Yakutat's economy is dependent on fishing, fish processing, and government. 163 residents hold commercial fishing permits. North Pacific Processors is the major private employer. Recreational fishing opportunities, both saltwater and freshwater, are world-class. Most residents depend on subsistence hunting and fishing. Salmon, trout, shellfish, deer, moose, bear, and goats are harvested. Like most of Southeast Alaska, Yakutat is relatively isolated with no road or rail access. The airport has daily commercial jet service that directly connects with Juneau, Cordova, Anchorage, and Seattle. There are also air taxis and float plane services to Yakutat. The state owns two jet-certified runways; one is 6,475' long by 150' wide of concrete, and the other is 7,745' long by 150' wide of asphalt. The airport is located 3 miles southeast of town, and a seaplane base is available 1 mile northwest. The U.S. Forest Service owns five airstrips in the vicinity, and the National Park Service operates one at East Alsek River. The borough operates the state-owned boat harbor and the Ocean Cape Dock. Monti Bay is the only sheltered deep water port in the Gulf of Alaska. Barges deliver goods monthly during the winter and more frequently in summer.
As a recipient of CCIAP funds, the City and Borough of Yakutat has developed projects to be funded through the City and Borough's CCIAP allocation. The Borough ranked these projects in Tier 1 and Tier 2 project lists to address regional priorities. The Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Division of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA) then sent the proposed project lists to the Department of Natural Resources for inclusion in the 2010 Amendment to the Alaska Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) Plan. The plan received federal approval, and the State has subsequently applied for and recieved federal awards for all approved projects in the CIAP plan. DCRA is now entering into grant agreements with Named Recipients for each approved CCIAP project.
Yakutat Harbor, Photo: DCCED
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development