Game Management Units

Prior to 1982, Alaska Department of Fish and Game - Division of Wildlife Conservation (ADFG-DWC) had a variety of coding schemes (18) relating harvest and management information to geographical areas. This made it difficult when comparing statewide wildlife information gathered across the state. In 1982, a new standardized statewide, geographically-based, hierarchy system of coding was created called the Uniform Coding Unit or UCU system.

Game management units (GMUs), Subunits, and uniform coding units (UCUs) are the underlying geographic foundation of the wildlife and habitat management and regulations for ADFG-DWC. The GMU/UCU system consists of four Regions (I, II, III, and V) which are divided into twenty-six (26) Game Management Units (GMUs). Many of the GMUs are divided into Subunits (e.g. GMU 15 has three (3) Subunits, 15A, 15B, and 15C). GMUs that are not divided into subunits have a "Z" designation for the subunit. GMUs and Subunits are further divided into Major Drainages, Minor Drainages and Specific Areas. The smallest of these areas (down to the "specific area") is referred to as a Uniform Coding Unit (UCU) and has a unique 10 character code associated with it.

The UCU code is used for geographically classifying harvest and management information. Data that cannot be tied to a specific code can be generalized to the next higher level of the hierarchy. For example, a location description that is within multiple "specific areas" within a "minor drainage" can be coded to the minor code with a "00" for the specific area. Unknown "minor drainages" can be coded to the "major drainage" level, etc. If the subunit is unknown or the area covers multiple subunits within a unit, the subunit can be specified as a "Z" code (e.g. an area within subunits 15A and 15B could be recorded as 15Z). If a geographic location covers multiple units or the unit is unknown, the most general code (statewide code) is recorded as 27Z-Z00.

The original hardcopy master maps were drawn to portray the UCUs fairly accurately geographically, but were not necessarily precisely drawn (i.e. left vs. right bank of a river, or exact ridge line). Each UCU was represented by drawing boundaries on USGS 1:250,000 scale quadrangle maps with a thick magic marker. A list (database) of place-names and their corresponding UCU codes was created and is still used today to assign permit, harvest, and sealing information to one of these geographic areas. In 1988, the UCU boundaries were digitized (traced) from the original maps into a computerized Geographic Information System (ArcInfo). Minor changes were made in 1989.

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Status: Ongoing
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Strauch, Rebecca
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Work: (907) 267-2408
Southeast Alaska GIS Library

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  • Import completed 2014-05-19 11:00:51 -0800
    2014-05-19 11:00:51 -0800