Subsistence Economies in Alaska: Productivity, Geography, and Development Impacts

  • Wolfe R
  • Walker R
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This paper describes the productivity and geographic distribution of subsistence harvests in Alaska during the 1980s. Subsistence harvests of a statewide sample of 98 communi- ties are presented, analyzed by size, composition, and locations. The analysis indicates that subsistence harvests of fish, land mammals, marine mammals, and other wild resources are making substantial contributions to the economies of most rural communities in Alaska. Com- munity harvest levels tend to increase in areas away from urban centers, not connected by roads to urban areas, with lower degrees of settlement entry and with lower mean personal incomes. These relationships suggest that certain types of economic development can create conditions which diminish subsistence productivity. Construction of roads and settlement entry into roaded areas produce changes associated with lower subsistence harvests, including in- creased competition for wild resources, increased habitat alteration, and changing community economic orientations away from mixed, subsistence-market adaptations. By recognizing the substantial contributions subsistence harvests make to the state's regional economies, economic development might be planned in ways which enhance, rather than erode, the state's rural subsistence base.

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  • Rj Wolfe

  • Rj Walker

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