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Bidding Ends February 28th for Second Nome Offshore Lease Sale in Ten Years

A gold dredge operating in waters offshore Nome. Photo from the Department of Natural Resources.

Those interested in following in the footsteps of Bering Sea Gold reality tv stars have until the end of day to bid for mining tracts offshore from Nome. It’s been almost ten years since the Department of Natural Resources last held this kind of lease sale in the Gold Rush city.

The 2020 Nome offshore lease sale, offered through DNR, is a sealed bid process this year. 11 mining tracts covering a total area of 1,060 acres are available in this year’s sale. According to DNR, these specific claims were part of the original tracts offered by the State of Alaska in 2011.

Nome-Offshore-Tract-Map

Heather Lescanec, the project coordinator for Nome’s offshore lease sale, explains why there are less than a dozen mining tracts available now compared to almost 90 that were offered nine years ago.

“When we had the lease sale in 2011, most of the leases were for ten years. Since that time period we’ve had a few leases that A.) were never given out during the initial lease sale, or B.) they’ve had their current leases become abandoned. And so that’s why we’ve just wanted to do a maintenance check for the land lease tracts.”

In the years following DNR’s 2011 lease sale, the department received tons of inquiries from people who watched the reality tv show Bering Sea Gold on the Discovery Channel and were then motivated to strike it rich in Nome. A piece of evidence of Bering Sea Gold’s influence on this lease sale, is DNR’s general letter addressed to anyone the department identified as a “gold seeker.”

Lescanec explains that Bering Sea Gold seekers continue to express interest in Nome’s offshore leases, which may give DNR a reason to expand the available mining tract areas in the future.

“It’s kind of the newest gold rush of Alaska, is this offshore stuff, so that’s why I’m so excited that I can help facilitate this process from a land management perspective.”

Lescanec says there is potential to hold offshore lease sales for Nome more frequently, however no official timeline has been established yet.

As of this morning, DNR has received about a dozen bids from individuals all over the country. With that in mind, Lescanec says the department expects to get a few more letters in the mail later on, that were most likely postmarked for today.

The sealed bidding period ends at the end of business day and all bids will be read publicly on March 23rd.

Image at top: A gold dredge operating in waters offshore Nome. Photo from the Department of Natural Resources.

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