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The Federal Subsistence Board, under their Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior, are requesting comments about the process they use to determine which Alaska communities are “rural” or “non-rural”.  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-12-31/html/2012-31359.htm

This means who gets to use federal lands in Alaska for hunting, fishing, and gathering.

Fed Register Notice 77(250)        Dec 31, 2012     Rural Determination Process
Only residents of areas identified as rural are eligible to participate in the Federal Subsistence Management Program on Federal public lands in Alaska.

New criteria to determine “rural” and “non-rural” must be received or postmarked by November 1, 2013.

E-mail comments to

submit on-line

Postal mail:

  • USFWS, Office of Subsistence Management,

1011 East Tudor Road, MS 121, Attn: Theo Matuskowitz,

Anchorage, AK 99503–6199


The impetus for examining how communities are defined as rural came from the federal register notice of request for comments by the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, through the Office of Subsistence Management, about defining or redefining the criteria by which Alaska communities are determined nonrural.

Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 250 / Monday, December 31, 2012 / Notices , Subsistence Management Program for Public Lands in Alaska; Rural Determination Process [FWS–R7–SM–2012–N248;FXFR133 50700640–134–FF07J00000] http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-12-31/html/2012-31359.htm

press release http://alaska.fws.gov/asm/newsrel/r011413a.pdf

The regulations themselves cannot be changed until after the criteria are determined. The guidelines or criteria stage is the important stage for our efforts to change the way subsistence operates on federal lands and to make sure we have access to our local resources.

 If we want certain types of information to be relevant to the determination of “rural” status then we need to make sure that type of data is in the comments on the process.

These comments will be used by the Board to assist in making decisions regarding the scope and nature of possible changes to improve the rural determination process.

We want to be sure that “improving the process” includes rural Alaska communities.

The following are basic references, especially the first four (marked with dash). Hart’s paper finds about 33 definitions but only about 5 are now used. He will have references to the RUCA (rural urban commuting areas) and to the Office of Management and Budget (for micropolitan and metropolitan). The USDA report did not mention that in addition to Rural Development, Forest Service also has “geographic limitations that restrict eligibility in most cases to “rural areas”.”

    • Final rule for Subsistence Management (current, 2007) contained in the final rule document in the list below http://alaska.fws.gov/asm/issue.cfml Note that the Dept of Interior has changed the web addresses but all links to alaska.fws.gov should redirect to the new website.

Methods for Rural/Nonrural Determinations. Jan 2003 (562 KB)
Decennial Review of Rural Determinations. July 2005 Report (902 KB)
Decennial Review of Rural Determinations. Nov 2005 Report (1.1 MB)
Decennial Review of Rural Determinations. June 2006 Report (1.7 MB)
Decennial Review of Rural Determinations. Nov 2006 Report (584 KB)
Final Rule and Requests for Reconsideration. Fall 2007 (6.4 MB)
The webpage and the local advisory council, http://alaska.fws.gov/asm/racdetail.cfml?rac=03 Kodiak/Aleutians Subsistence Regional Advisory Council

Current federal board, http://alaska.fws.gov/asm/board.cfml

2007 action requesting reconsideration of Decennial Review, http://alaska.fws.gov/asm/pdf/rural/FinalRuleRFR2007.pdf


Federal Subsistence Board Work Session on Rural Determination Process, April 2011 (746 KB)

https://depts.washington.edu/uwruca/ruca-references.php References and Links
The following publications provide general descriptions of many rural taxonomies, their importance, geographic analysis, and their policy relevance

Rural Assistance center, http://www.raconline.org/maps/state_details.php?state=AK Maps by State: Alaska
There may be more maps in RAC’s collection related to Alaska that are not listed here. These can be located with an advanced search.

http://www.frontierus.org/index.php The National Center for Frontier Communities (NCFC) is the only national organization dedicated to the smallest and most geographically isolated communities in the United States – the Frontier.