Village Infrastructure Protection

In 2015 the White House directed the Commission to establish a Village Infrastructure Protection (VIP) Program to assist rural Alaskan communities that are threatened by erosion, flooding and permafrost degradation.  The goal of the VIP Program is to mitigate the impact of these threats with respect to safety, health and the protection of infrastructure.

The basis for the program is Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report 09-551 that was published in 2009.  The report identified 31 rural Alaska communities that face significant damage to infrastructure, and/or relocation due to these threats. The State of Alaska has also done significant research on this problem through an Immediate Action Workgroup established by Governor Sarah Palin in 2007.

One of the villages imminently threatened is Newtok, where permafrost degradation acting in combination with Ninglick River currents has resulted in a river bank erosion rate of 70 feet per year. Numerous homes, the school and the airport will be destroyed within the next 2 to 4 years. Relocating the community to safer ground is the only alternative.

The Commission has received no new recurring appropriations for the VIP Program. However, in FY16, FY17 and FY18 the agency invested a total of $34 million of its discretionary program funds for VIP related initiatives; primarily in support of the four most vulnerable communities identified in GAO Report 09-551 (Newtok, KivalinaShaktoolik, and Shishmaref). Our primary program partners are the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium who is providing overall project management services for the Newtok Relocation Project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and University of Alaska – Fairbanks who are developing an overall Statewide Threat Assessment, and several agencies within the State of Alaska such as the Alaska Energy Authority and the Division of Community and Regional Affairs.


Jocelyn Fenton
Program Manager
Direct: 907-271-4714

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Relocation of Newtok to Mertarvik

newtok relocate

The Commission is working with numerous local, state and other federal agencies in a combined effort to relocate the village of Newtok to a new site called Mertarvik. To date, the Commission has provided more than $24 million for the project. For more information on the relocation of Newtok to Mertarvik please see the Final Environmental Impact Statement referenced above, the Mertarvik Project Fact Sheet, and the Newtok Planning Group website.