The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is in Unalaska this week. Officials from the agency's regulatory division are here to explain how they evaluate permit applications for construction projects proposed in streams, tidal wetlands, and other U.S. waters.
Jen Martin is a USACE regulatory specialist. She said her division is responsible for protecting Alaska's waterways.
"So if you have a wetland in your backyard and you need to expand your foundation for some reason, you're going to be impacting that wetland. That would require a permit from the Corps of Engineers," she said.
Martin said construction work usually requires a permit if it involves building structures, discharging fill materials, or dredging in waterways. She said getting a permit takes at least 45 days — often longer, especially if endangered species may be affected or if a property has historic status.
"It all depends on the project — where it is, what you're going to do, and the size of the project that's being proposed," she said. "It's very much on a case-by-case basis."
For that reason, Martin said it can be hard to understand the permitting process and the regulations surrounding construction. That's why her team is holding an open house during their trip to Unalaska and meeting with residents one-on-one.
"We want to make sure we get out to the public," she said. "Let them ask their questions, show us their project plans, go out and look at their pieces of property, and let them know what they have: Is there anything that they need from the Corps of Engineers or not?"
The USACE team is available all week to review specific properties and construction proposals as well as answer general questions. The open house is scheduled for Wednesday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Unalaska Public Library.