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FAIRBANKS (AP) — Leaders of villages in the remote upper Koyukuk River region are exploring the possibility of joining or creating a borough before resources are developed in the area.
Former Allakaket First Chief PJ Simon said it’s inevitable that copper and other resources in this northern Alaska region will be developed, so the communities want to cash in before that happens, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
Creating or joining a borough could lead to new tax revenue to fund infrastructure projects, jobs and schools, Simon said.
Simon contacted North Slope Borough officials about two weeks ago, requesting annexation for Allakaket, Alatna and a couple other villages. The response he received referred him to the governor’s office, he said.
Simon said they’re also considering annexation into the Northwest Arctic Borough, though he noted any annexation could take years.
Fred Bifelt, a resident of Huslia, said the times are lean, and his community is looking for additional revenue. Forming or joining a borough could bring their communities to the table as mining companies examine the area, he said. But they need to act soon.
“I’m not going to have my grandkids wait on entitlement programs,” Bifet said. “Our people need to start thinking about that in a hurry.”