In response to a historically low walrus harvest, Governor Sean Parnell declared an economic disaster for the residents of Saint Lawrence Island. Extreme ice and wind conditions reduced the 2013 harvest to 36 percent of the prior ten-year average.
"We will work closely with community members and leaders to ensure residents receive the assistance they need in the coming year," Governor Parnell said.
Carved walrus ivory is a significant regional economic driver. Walruses also provide a critical subsistence food source for local residents.
Alaska statutes do not provide immediate access to disaster funds. However, the Legislature may appropriate money for assistance grants, and the governor may recommend acceleration of capital projects planned for the area and funding of new projects.