Alaska Subsistence
A National Park Service Management History
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Chapter 5:

B. ANILCA and its Management Ramifications

The agency's presence in the new monuments remained small and only occasionally visible until December 2, 1980, when President Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. This act established by statute that subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering would be legitimate activities on some 41,458,000 acres of new parklands. The lands under consideration were much the same as those in the national monuments that had been designated two years earlier. [19] Section 1322 of ANILCA, however, had abolished the national monuments; that act of abolition, by extension, also nullified the interim management regulations that had been effective since late December of 1978.

In the wake of ANILCA's passage, NPS officials scurried to assemble a management authority for the newly established park units. A major task that had to be undertaken immediately—even before the various superintendents were hired—was the creation and implementation of management regulations for the newly expanded parklands. As was the case in late 1978 and early 1979, haste was warranted in the issuance of regulations. As noted in the Federal Register, "many of the[se] provisions relieve the otherwise applicable restrictions of [existing regulation], which are inappropriate in the unique Alaska setting. For example, standard restrictions on access, firearms, preservation of natural features, abandoned property, and camping and picnicking are relieved by these regulations." [20]

John Cook
John Cook was chosen to direct the NPS's Alaska office in September 1978 and remained at the helm in Anchorage until 1983. NPS (AKSO)

The task of drafting the management guidelines fell to five Interior Department employees. Solicitors Molly Ross and Thomas Lundquist, and Michael Finley, now part of the Department's Division of Legislation, were veterans of the effort that had compiled the 1979 regulations; joining them were Maureen Finnerty, of the NPS's Division of Ranger Activities and Protection, and William F. Paleck, from the NPS's newly-established Alaska Regional Office in Anchorage. [21] Using as a template the June 1979 Proposed Rule, the 245 letters that had been submitted during the 90-day period that followed its issuance, the changes in land status between the 1978 proclamations and the 1980 Congressional act, and ANILCA's legislative history, [22] Ross and Finley issued a new Proposed Rule for Alaska's newly-established parklands on January 19, 1981 and gave the public 45 days—until March 6—to submit comments on the proposed regulations. [23]

The January 1981 regulations, in fact, differed significantly from those that had been announced in the proposed rule issued nineteen months earlier. Some of the changes, to be sure, were obvious adjustments to the units that had been designated in ANILCA; others, however, were modifications based either on public testimony or the changed opinions of NPS decision makers. In the subsistence section, for example, the January 1981 regulations defined a family for the first time; changed the method by which resident zones were determined; changed the system (in Sec. 1344) under which people living outside resident zone communities could conduct subsistence activities; deleted the prohibition of specific uses (Dall sheep hunting and motorboat use) in the new Lake Clark unit; added Cantwell to the list of subsistence zone communities; and modified numerous other subsistence-related provisions. [24] A key contributor to the tone of the new regulations was NPS planner Dick Hensel, formerly of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who urged that the regulations be as flexible as possible; due to the vagaries of subsistence harvesting patterns, he averred that "subsistence is not a regulatory program in its usual sense" and worked to have the regulations reflect that fluidity. [25]

The public was given until March 16, ten days later than originally scheduled, to submit comments. A four-person team—everyone on the January 1981 team except Michael Finley—then began to analyze the 391 submitted comments. [26] The team was operating under a severe, self-imposed time constraint—the agency had announced in January that it hoped to issue final regulations in late March—but the volume and complexity of comments forced the team to make a more deliberate effort. A Final Rule was not published until June 17, 1981. [27] The rule was made "immediately effective to provide public guidance in time for peak park use seasons." Federal regulators, moreover, recognized that the regulations were not the last word; they were "the minimum necessary for interim administration of Alaska park areas." They also promised that "[f]urther rulemaking efforts will involve more expansive public guidance on the implementation and interpretation of ANILCA." [28]

Comments were submitted on a variety of subject areas, but subsistence issues continued to be both vexatious and contentious; as noted in the Federal Register, "the issue of subsistence continues to be the most difficult of all the issues affecting the new National Park Service areas in Alaska." The State of Alaska, and many in-state groups, felt that the federal government should play no role in regulating subsistence, particularly during the first year following ANILCA's passage. In deference to those attitudes, the agency agreed to delete a system of residence zones and subsistence permits as they pertained to the national preserves, although it stood firm in its conviction that it would manage subsistence activities in preserves as well as in the parks and monuments. In another compromise with Alaska-based interests, the regulations did not contain any provisions that would have immediately implemented sections 806 (federal monitoring), 807 (judicial enforcement), 810 (impacts on land use decisions), and 812 (research). The agency, however, averred that it had "certain basic responsibilities" to carry out the other provisions of ANILCA as they pertained to subsistence activities. The NPS had no problem with the state's regulation of subsistence activities so long as it was consistent with federal law; the agency, in fact, anticipated "that a State subsistence program, implementing ANILCA's various mandates, [would] eventually supersede most federal regulation of subsistence." [29]

The NPS recognized that the definitions of certain terms would be an important aspect of subsistence management, and in recognition of that importance, the agency discussed several terms that had been incorporated into ANILCA. Regarding "healthy" and "natural and healthy" (as noted in Sections 802(1), 808(b), and 815(1)), the regulations did not explicitly define either term, although explanatory paragraphs sprinkled throughout the regulations shed light on their applicability. The agency also chose not to define the terms "customarily and traditionally," suggesting instead that establishing such a definition demanded additional comment, research, and advice from various local advisory bodies. In addition, it modified the application of the "customary trade" concept that had been propounded in both the June 1979 and January 1981 proposed rules to include the "making and selling of certain handicraft articles out of plant materials" in Kobuk Valley National Park and a portion of Gates of the Arctic National Preserve. [30]

The terms "local resident" and "rural resident" had been used in ANILCA, and because only "local rural residents" (either subsistence permit holders or those who lived in resident zone communities) were eligible to carry on subsistence activities, the regulations sought to define the term more specifically. The regulations suggested specific criteria—tax returns, voter registration, and so forth—that would help determine whether an individual qualified as a "local rural resident," and they also listed specific cities and towns that, in the agency's opinion, either qualified or did not qualify as "rural" communities. But this list was by no means exhaustive; another effort, at some later date, would need to more clearly define the boundary line between urban and rural. [31]

Regarding the "where traditional" clause (which pertained to five of the newly-established park units), the NPS—perhaps on Dick Hensel's advice—chose not to designate any specific hunting zones. Instead, it noted that various local advisory bodies "should facilitate such local input into these designations." The agency warned, however, that "local rural residents should comply with ... Congressional intent ... by not hunting in any areas [of these five park units] where subsistence hunting has not, in recent history, occurred." [32]

In regards to the determination of resident zones, the NPS recognized that it was treading a narrow, median pathway. At one extreme was the state, which wanted to abolish all resident zones, thus opening up subsistence hunting opportunities to all regardless of their residence; while at the other extreme, conservation groups wanted resident zones replaced by subsistence permits, thus ensuring that only well-established hunters would be allowed subsistence hunting privileges in the national parks and monuments. The NPS, guided by ANILCA's legislative history, insisted that resident zones would be the primary mechanism for determining subsistence eligibility; in deference to the state, however, the agency agreed to adopt a more liberal definition for what constituted a bona fide resident zone community. [33] Because of that liberalized definition, the number of resident zone communities increased for most of the new park units, and the total number of communities near national parks or monuments rose from 31 to 53. (See Table 5-1.) The agency hoped, by selecting a relatively large number of resident zone communities, to reduce the number of subsistence users that would need to obtain subsistence permits. (These became known as "13.44 permits" because they were discussed in Sec. 13.44 of the final regulations.) [34]

NPS employees
The first group of seasonal employees to work in Alaska's parks after ANILCA's passage met in June 1981; several became experts on subsistence matters. Top row, left to right: Dick Ring* (GAAR), Kim Bartel (YUCH), Mary Hoyne (WRST), Timothy Wingate (LACL), Ray Bane* (GAAR), Jacquelynn Shea (GAAR). Second row: George Wuerthner (GAAR), Linda Lee (CAKR), Debbie Sturdevant, Kit Mullen (WRST), Susan Steinacher (GAAR), Skye Swanson (GAAR). Third row: Thomas Rulland (GAAR), Gladys Commack (CAKR), Gail McConnell (CAKR), Clair Roberts (LACL), William Goebel (YUCH), John Morris. Bottom row: David Chesky (LACL), Charlie Crangle (LACL), Karen Jettmar (CAKR), William "Bud" Rice (NOAT), Maggie Yurick (GAAR), Steve Ulvi (YUCH), Mike Tollefson* (LACL). NPS (AKSO). Those marked with a * were not seasonal employees.

During the seven-month period following ANILCA's passage in which management regulations were being drafted and approved, NPS officials in Alaska were carrying on a myriad of other activities in an attempt to establish facilities and personnel in the newly-established park units. Within weeks of ANILCA's passage, Alaska Regional Office [35] Director John Cook began hiring the first new park superintendents (see Appendix 3), and by the late spring of 1981 a skeletal management presence was on site at each of the new parks. (The number of permanent, full-time staff ranged from two to six that first year.) Considering the acreages and responsibilities involved, the initial park budgets were decidedly modest. The first park headquarters, as a rule, were humble affairs; in a few fortunate cases, the agency was able to carve out space in existing federal facilities, but elsewhere, park staffs were forced to make do with a substandard or deteriorating physical plant. [36]

Cook, who had been no stranger to confrontation during his previous management stints, recognized that anti-NPS sentiment in the aftermath of ANILCA ran high in many parts of Alaska. Agency personnel in the vicinity of many park areas, moreover, had had little interaction with local residents. In response to those conditions, Cook deliberately chose a non-confrontational management style and recommended a similar attitude on the part of his staff. The new regional director was fully aware that ANILCA's provisions, along with the newly-approved management regulations, had given the agency broad management power over the parks and park users; but he was also keenly aware that arbitrary or excessive exercise of that power would antagonize many Alaska residents. He recognized, for the time being at least, that it was of primary importance that the agency, both on an institutional and personal level, be good neighbors and low-key educators. [37]

This attitude was reflected in the agency's approach to subsistence. During the mid-to-late 1970s, when the agency was formulating its various final environmental statements and defending the proposed parks before Congress, a subsistence "brain trust" had developed among the Alaska NPS staff. The initial members of this ad hoc group, Robert Belous and T. Stell Newman, had written several subsistence policy statements (see Chapter 4), and in the late 1970s they were joined by historian William E. Brown, anthropologist (and CPSU head) Zorro Bradley, and others. Cook, recognizing the group's collective expertise, gave the group a high degree of independence in day-to-day policy formulation. That policy, carried out at the park level by the various superintendents and by rangers, was primarily educational during this period. [38] After ANILCA was passed, Belous continued to use a "soft touch" approach and made periodic, informal visits to those communities with which they had become familiar during the mid-1970s. Subsistence expert Ray Bane, who was living in Bettles at the time, made similar visits throughout northern Alaska. And park staff, most notably Superintendent C. Mack Shaver (of the Northwest Alaska Areas cluster) did likewise, hoping by their visits to establish trust, dispel rumors, and provide information about agency operations. [39]

Map 5-1. Resident Zone Communities for Alaska's National Parks and Monuments.
(click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

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Last Updated: 14-Mar-2003