2nd Class City
in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (bet' ullz); formerly Bettles Field
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
- Place FIPS
Election, Recording, and Judicial Districts
- Senate District
- House District
- Judicial District
- Recording District
Facilities and Amenities
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Volunteer Fire Department, Fire Hall, Roads, Ice Roads, Parks & Recreation, Fuel Tank Farm
Geography and Climate
- Bettles is located about 180 air miles and 250 road miles northwest of Fairbanks, adjacent to Evansville. It lies just north of the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge. Bettles is located on the S.E. bank of the Koyukuk River.
- The area experiences a cold, continental climate with extreme temperature differences. The average high temperature during July is 70 °F. The average low temperature during January is well below 0 °F. Extended periods of -40 °F are common. The highest temperature ever recorded was 93 °F, and the lowest was -82 °F. Average annual precipitation is 13.4 inches, and average annual snowfall is 77 inches.
- Community Map Available
- Map URL
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- Several Native groups have lived in the area, including Koyukon Athabascans and Kobuk, Selawik, and Nunamiut Eskimos from the north and northwest. The Koyukon lived in several camps throughout the year, moving as the seasons changed, following the wild game and fish. "Old Bettles," located 6 miles from the present community, was named for Gordon Bettles, who opened a trading post during the 1899 gold rush. Old Bettles was the northern terminal of the Koyukuk River barge line, and a post office operated there from 1901 to 1956. Today, the new site of Bettles is also known as Bettles Field. The Bettles Runway was constructed in 1945 by the U.S. Navy under Navy Contract Noy-12081 with Lytle and Green Construction as contractor. The U.S. Navy used these facilities as a support base for exploring National Petroleum Reserve. Later, the FAA took over the runway and its maintenace. Work opportunities at Bettles Field attracted both Natives and non-Natives to the new airfield. Wilford Evans, Sr., opened a sawmill at the present site of Evansville and built the Bettles Lodge and General Store. A post office was established at the Bettles Lodge in 1950. A school was constructed in 1956. A health clinic opened in 1980. Bettles incorporated as a city during 1985. The city boundaries do not include the Village of Evansville.
- Residents of Bettles are both Native and non-Native. The school was closed in 2002, due to low enrollment.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Incorporation Type
- 2nd Class City
- Public Education
- Not permitted to provide this service.
- Planning, Platting and Land Use Regulation
- Not required to exercise the powers in any circumstance, but may be permitted in all cases in the manner described for first class cities.
- Property Tax Powers
- May tax up to 20 mills, except where a higher levy is required to avoid default. Voter approval required.
- Sales Tax Powers
- No limit on the rate of levy of sales taxes; however, voter approval is required.
- Other Powers Not Prohibited
- May exercise other powers not prohibited by law.
- City Council or Assembly Composition and Apportionment
- 7 members elected at-large, except the council may provide for election other than at-large.
- Election and Term of Mayor
- Elected from the city council for a 1-year term, unless a longer term is provided by ordinance. Mayor selected by council (or by voters upon adoption of ordinance).
- Vote by Mayor
- Votes on all matters.
- Veto Power of the Mayor
- Does not have veto power.
- Power of Eminent Domain
- Permitted, but requires voter approval.
- Ability to Attain Home-Rule Status
- May not adopt home-rule charter without first reclassifying to a first-class city.
- During four months of the year, the Bettles Winter Road, a 30-mile winter trail, gives residents access to the Dalton Highway, which leads to Fairbanks. The Koyukuk River is used in the summer, but no commercial barge is available. The state-owned airport is classified as a transport center, with a manned FAA contract weather station, a gravel runway, and a float pond. Trucks, cars, snow machines, and ATVs are used for local transportation.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection