Northern Land Use

Proposed Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline

Surveying near Galbraith Lake, Brooks Range

Surveying near Galbraith Lake, Brooks Range

Phase I Survey of the Proposed Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline, Prudhoe Bay to the Canadian Border

In 2001, NLUR conducted a Phase I (reconnaissance level) survey of a proposed natural gas pipeline route from Prudhoe Bay to the Canadian Border east of Tok, Alaska. Fieldwork was performed by ~ 40 NLUR archaeologists between June 2001 and September 2001 for the Alaska Gas Pipeline Project Team (AGPPT).¹ We initiated the surveys to gather data in support of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) natural gas pipeline right-of-way filing. Survey was required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended) and FERC requirements (see FERC 2002).

Prior to the 2001 field season, we prepared a 2 volume Data Assessment

Report (Potter et al. 2001a), and a 2 volume Predictive Model and Survey Strategy (Potter et al. 2001b). Our Final Report on the 2001 survey is described in 5 volumes (Potter et al. 2002). It describes the methods, logistics, and results of the 2001 fieldwork, and provides the SHPO, permitting agencies, and other consulting parties with accurate and precise site locations and basic descriptions of cultural resources located during the survey. That document was submitted in partial fulfillment of permits with SHPO and Bureau of Land Management.

Site testing near Atigun Pass, Brooks Range

Site testing near Atigun Pass, Brooks Range

During the 2001 reconnaissance survey, we surveyed a total of 345 miles of the ground survey areas, and 279 miles of helicopter survey areas². Combining all survey types, a total of 625 mi (86% of 727 miles) of the gas line route were surveyed by ground transects or helicopter-based survey. Some minor gaps in the ground survey resulted from the lack of continuous access to private lands.

In addition to the main AGPPT gas line alignment survey (“southern route”), NLUR was asked to survey several proposed compressor stations and additional areas of proposed test trenches near Prudhoe Bay and an area north of Fairbanks. We also examined the cultural resources potential of a proposed offshore alignment in the Beaufort Sea (“Northern Route”) between Prudhoe Bay and the Canadian border near Herschel Island (Bowers et al. 2001).

As a Phase I level survey, our intent was to identify cultural resource sites and to locate areas of high cultural resource potential within the proposed pipeline Area of Potential Effect (APE). We located a total of 122 cultural resources during the 2001 survey. Of these, 90 were assigned new Alaska Heritage Resource Survey (AHRS) site numbers and 27 matched previously known AHRS sites.

Remote camp, Galbraith Lake, Brooks Range

Remote camp, Galbraith Lake, Brooks Range

Additional surveys required for the AGPPT pipeline (if continued beyond the feasibility stage) include subsequent changes to the alignment, and all ancillary features not previously surveyed where direct impacts are anticipated during pre-construction and construction phases, including (but not limited to) material sites, pipeline storage yards, construction camps, temporary runways, helicopter pads, communications sites, and new or expanded access roads. An additional major effort, necessary to complete Section Phase I (identification) surveys, is the subsurface testing of hundreds of areas identified as high potential zones for the occurrence of archaeological sites. Typically, these require systematic fixed-interval shovel testing of each high potential area.

Phase II surveys, intended to gather enough data to complete Determinations of Eligibility (DOE) to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), will be required for sites within the APE and ancillary facilities prior to construction. Sites will need to be evaluated at the Phase II level in order to prepare a DEIS for the project. Once DOEs have been completed for affected sites within the APE, project impacts (adverse effects) to sites declared potentially eligible to the NRHP can be assessed. Mitigation (Phase III) would follow; for a large pipeline project such as this, mitigation typically occurs once a FERC certificate has been issued, a Notice to Proceed (NTP) has been given, and actual construction has begun.

¹AGPPT consisted of an owners group of BP Exporation (Alaska) Inc, ExxonMobil Production Company and Phillips Alaska Inc., originally North American Natural Gas Pipeline Project (NANGPP). NLUR and Chumis Cultural Resource Services (Chumis) worked on this project under separate subcontracts to URS Corporation (URS), with NLUR providing the field personnel, logistics and supervision; and Chumis assisting with project liaison and management support.

²Our survey strategy, delineation of survey zones, and definitions of survey types is given in Potter et al. (2001b) and Potter et al. (2002).