Isolated Paradise:
An Administrative History of the Katmai and Aniakchak National Park Units
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Chapter 5:
Katmai and The Alaska Lands Controversy, 1969-1980

Early Attempts to Resolve Statewide Lands Issues

During the 1960s, a rising number of voices began to demand that some solution be found to the problem of undesignated Alaskan land. For decades, there had been few pressures to develop the great majority of Alaska's land resources; more than 95 percent of Alaska was nominally administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. There were, to be sure, 1.3 million acres of privately-held lands, which were chiefly located in and around the state's towns and villages. In addition, the federal government administered some 92 million acres of military reservations, power and petroleum reserves, national parks and monuments, national forests, and wildlife refuges, and it was also a trustee over two Indian reservations. Most of the state, however, was a de facto wilderness that was open to travel, fishing, trapping, hunting, mineral exploration, settlement, and appropriation under the federal land laws. Many Alaskans thought that the vast majority of the state, particularly those portions remote from the contiguous highway network, had little value. Most of those who lived Outside, moreover, knew little about those lands and cared even less about them.

The initial step toward unraveling the prevailing laissez faire attitude took place on June 30, 1958, when the Alaska Statehood Bill passed Congress. The act was exceedingly generous to the state. Instead of granting the state less than ten percent of its acreage, as had been true when most of the western territories had been granted statehood, Alaska was allowed to choose 104,500,000 acres--almost 28 percent of its land area--to use or sell as the state saw fit. [1]

State planners, looking for future sources of revenue, selected lands which had the best opportunities for oil, gas and hard-rock mineral extraction. During the 1960s, they selected some 28,000,000 acres. Early selections, however, began to impinge on lands traditionally used by Alaska's Natives. Alaska's aboriginal peoples had not been organized on a statewide (or territory-wide) level before the early 1960s. By 1966, however, the Alaska Federation of Natives was a reality, and the new organization soon began to lobby for a bill that would guarantee control over their traditional use lands. [2]

Meanwhile, the National Park Service began its own efforts to resolve the growing lands issue. The agency, over the years, had made no comprehensive studies regarding which areas belonged in the NPS system; instead, the system had grown, one unit at a time, as a result of a wide variety of pressures from transportation carriers, commercial interests, politicians, and scientists. George B. Hartzog, who became Director in January 1964, hoped to engage the agency in a systemwide inventory and evaluation effort. To that end, he appointed a series of task forces to analyze park possibilities in various regional areas. Hartzog soon recognized that if significant growth in the park system were to occur, that growth would have to be in Alaska. The Alaska Task Force, formed in November 1964, was composed of outsiders familiar with the state--George Collins, Robert Luntey, Sigurd Olson, and Doris Leonard. (John Kauffmann, an NPS employee, was chosen as an editorial assistant.)

The group issued a report the following January called Operation Great Land. The study identified a total of 39 vaguely-defined "zones and sites containing examples of recreation, natural, and historic resources," and urged that the agency make a "massive investment" in the state. The study, the first which attempted to assess future parklands on a statewide level, was the first volley in what would prove to be long battle, and even though the report was not published, it provided the basis for future efforts. Regarding Katmai, the report called for a small expansion at the west end of the monument, "about 20 miles long and 10 miles wide," and a larger expansion to the north, "about 100 miles long and 40 miles wide." Both of the proposed additions had previously been considered, by Conrad Wirth and Lowell Sumner (1952) and by Victor Cahalane (1953). [3]

Once Operation Great Land had broken the ice, other elements within the service began to suggest expanding the monument. The 1965 Master Plan Brief, for example, suggested boundary expansions in the same areas as those envisioned by Hartzog's task force. [4] Soon, however, two events complicated the situation regarding land acquisition in the Katmai area. In the fall of 1966, the state began to select land from various townships along the wildlife-rich McNeil River. Within the next few months almost the entire drainage had been claimed. The state's action was in slight conflict with NPS plans for the area; the NPS had identified McNeil River, "with its superb brown bear habitat," as an area of significance in its proposed northern expansion. But there was no conflict between the state selected lands and the proposed NPS expansion which appeared in the 1965 Master Plan Brief. [5]

The second event took place when the Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, slapped a land freeze on lands north of the monument. Such an action had been anticipated for some time. The Classification and Multiple Use Act, which had passed Congress in September 1964, had called for the eventual classification and delineation of BLM lands for specific purposes. The act, however, could not be applied until the Interior Department drew up supporting regulations. The process might have taken years, but pressure by Native groups, who were angry at the proliferating number of state selections, helped speed up the process. By August 1966, Interior Department officials had told the NPS that a land freeze in the Katmai area was in the offing; as a result, the agency's Master Plan Brief which was released in January 1967 proposed no new lands to the monument. [6]

In March 1967 the proposed land freeze was published in the Federal Register. It took the form of a proposed classification for over 6.6 million acres of BLM land in the Iliamna-Cook Inlet areas, in which "subject to existing rights, publication of this notice segregates [i.e., prevents] the described lands from all forms of appropriation [homesteading, oil leasing, transportation corridors, etc.] under the public land laws..." [7] A hearing on the proposed action was held in King Salmon on May 2; those in attendance generally supported BLM's proposal. After minor modifications were made, the BLM announced in October the issuance of the classification order, and by mid-December it was enforcing its provisions. [8] As a result, NPS hopes for adding lands to Katmai (or other NPS units) were put on hold for the time being.

The 1969 Boundary Expansion

Udall's land freeze prevented NPS officials from considering the addition of any new monument acreage along the northern border. It did not, however, prevent a western boundary expansion. Before the freeze, the Service's New Area Studies Division had considered both extensions as active proposals; Udall's action eliminated one of the two proposals. [9]

In the fall of 1967, NPS Director Hartzog brought up the expansion proposal to both Governor Walter Hickel and Senator E. L. Bartlett. In his letter to Hickel, Hartzog suggested future tourism development when he explained that

Improved visitor access and facilities are directly related to the proposed boundary extension to the [west] to include the rest of Naknek Lake. This extension will add not only a very fine water resource but also a base for access into the monument to be served by road from King Salmon. We are presently exploring this boundary change possibility with the Bureau of Land Management. [10]

In July 1968, Secretary Udall met with White House officials to discuss the idea of setting aside additional lands as monuments during the waning days of the Johnson administration. (President Johnson, by this time, had already announced that he would not run for re-election.) Udall was given the go-ahead to proceed with the project, which soon became known as "Project P." A month later he met with NPS Assistant Director Theodor Swem, and requested him to prepare a list of possible areas. Swem produced a wide-ranging list: in Alaska, candidate areas included Mount McKinley, Katmai, Gates of the Arctic, St. Lawrence Island, Wrangell Mountains, Saint Elias Range, Lake Clark Pass, and Wood-Tikchik. By October 18, Swem's list had been narrowed considerably; included from a nationwide inventory were just six areas in which Udall had shown an interest. Two of the six were in Alaska: an extension to Mount McKinley and an extension to Katmai. [11]

Over the next two months, various officials critiqued the list, the result being that one new unit--Gates of the Arctic National Monument, in Alaska--was added to the list. The seven proposed monuments were then announced in the Federal Register, and presented to President Johnson for his signature. Johnson waited until the last moments of his term in office to resolve the matter; he was, in fact, already dressed for Nixon's inauguration when he made his decision. Johnson had the opportunity to create monuments transferring over 7.6 million acres to the protection of the National Park Service. Of that total, 6.4 million acres would have been in Alaska. He decided, however, to sign the proclamations for only the four smallest monuments, which together preserved just 385,000 acres. Of the three national monument proclamations proposed for Alaska, the only one he signed was Proclamation 3890, which expanded Katmai National Monument 94,547 acres to the westward. [12]

Alaskan officials at both the state and federal levels were furious upon hearing that the Katmai acreage had been removed from the public domain. They were slightly mollified to hear that the Mount McKinley and Gates of the Arctic withdrawals had not taken place, but they were angry at the Katmai withdrawal and even more angry that they had not been briefed on the proposed withdrawals until they lay on Johnson's desk waiting to be signed. Howard W. Pollock, the state's lone U.S. House member, called the process a "dictatorial step." [13] He vented his anger by preparing amendments to the Antiquities Act which would prevent the Executive Branch from creating monuments without a public review process. [14] Ted Stevens, who had just been appointed as a U.S. Senator one month earlier, vowed to withdraw the monument designation and asked the Senate Interior Committee to hold hearings in Alaska on the issue. (No such hearings were held, however.) Mike Gravel, Alaska's Democratic senator, approved of the Johnson proclamation. He added, "I would hope that the withdrawal will hasten the day when more Americans can wander through the scenic lagoons, glaciers, lakes and craters which make Katmai one of the natural wonders of the world." [15]

Other Alaskans were just as virulent in their opposition to the move as Pollock and Stevens. State officials wrote the Congressional delegation and demanded that the Katmai withdrawal be rescinded. Local residents protested the action as well; one fumed, "This latest addition has absolutely no scenic value." [16]

So far as is known, bureaucrats took no further action on the boundary expansion. But locals, who had just had some excellent, accessible hunting and trapping grounds taken away from them, did not forget. During the 1970s, as an increasing number of voices were raised to expand the monument yet again, the citizens of Naknek, King Salmon and nearby communities remained bitter about the 1969 proclamation, and stood implacably opposed to any further expansion. NPS officials listened to their complaints and tried to sympathize with their plight. Many, however, felt that the national interest outweighed local concerns. [17]

Katmai Gets a Superintendent

By the time President Johnson made his proclamation, Katmai had been a national monument for more than 50 years. During the majority of that time, the monument had lacked on-site administrators of any kind. Since 1950 the level of administration had slowly increased; late 1964 witnessed the creation of the monument's first full-time staff position, and in the spring of 1966 Katmai's ranger-in-charge, Darrell Coe, was elevated to the management assistant level. That promotion, combined with the establishment of the Alaska Group Office, gave the park greater independence and management authority than it had previously enjoyed. Thanks to the efforts of Director George Hartzog, Katmai and the other Alaska NPS units were becoming increasingly well funded. Personnel levels, which had been meager just a few years before, had expanded to the point that by 1969 the total staff numbered thirteen. But the 2,697,000-acre monument was still woefully understaffed; the management assistant remained the only full-time, permanent appointment. And because Katmai lacked its own superintendent, it was still a "satellite monument" which was still largely dependent upon officials in McKinley Park and San Francisco. [18]

During the summer of 1969, Katmai's long period of dependence, at long last, entered its final hour. Tom Atwood, the monument's management assistant, left the position in May. [19] John Rutter, the head of the newly-designated Northwest District Office, reacted by contacting Gilbert Blinn, a district ranger at Death Valley National Monument. Blinn, who had just completed an ascent of Mount McKinley with fellow NPS employees Paul Haertel and John Dalle-Molle, was interested in moving to Alaska. He was offered the management assistant's position in August and assumed the position on September 7, 1969. Eighteen months later, in March 1971, his position was upgraded to superintendent. His pay and the scope of his responsibilities, however, were the same as they had been before. [20]

Problems Administering the Monument, 1969-1974

Blinn had no lack of issues with which to deal once he arrived at the monument. Brooks Camp's garbage was one major concern, because of its effect on bear populations. (This problem is discussed in detail in Chapter 9.) Another problem he faced was the lack of continuity in local management. The problem was a long-standing one, because the local NPS representative had usually served relatively short, two- to three-year stints at the monument. Blinn solved that problem, in part, by his own longevity; he served as superintendent for almost ten years.

Dealing with poachers was yet another management headache. Poaching was particularly frustrating because there was little that Blinn could do about it. Two fellow bureaucrats, Dan France from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Bill Pinette from the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (later the National Marine Fisheries Service), were able to identify the extent of the problem, and even knew the identities of the poachers. But as noted in Chapter 4, however, the NPS was hamstrung because it had no plane. Making the problem worse was the local U.S. District Court, which was too overloaded to give adequate emphasis to poaching cases. And the Smolka case of 1966 demonstrated that when convictions could be obtained, the penalties were often woefully inadequate. [21]

Superintendent Blinn recalled a particularly emotional encounter that underscored his lack of enforcement ability. In 1971, he held a hearing in Naknek on the master plan which was then under consideration. At the hearing, a man stood up and said, "You guys have had that [Shelikof Strait] coastline out there for 50 years and you haven't done a thing with it. It's obvious you are not managing the park." Blinn could only agree with the prevailing strong feelings. He was well aware that guides were coming in freely and openly throughout the park, yet he was denying the locals the chance to go up and get a moose or caribou. [22]

A partial solution to the problem was found in 1972 or 1973 when the NPS obtained the services of an Anchorage-based Office of Aircraft Services (OAS) plane. Most of the OAS flying was done in conjunction with the planning effort carried on by the agency's Alaska Task Force. To assist monument operations, however, the OAS agreed to send one of its pilots, Bud Small, out on weekly patrols across the monument during hunting season. Stationing observers in the backcountry, and publicizing their presence, also helped cut down on poaching. But the problem was not really solved. The wheel-based plane was unable to land anywhere in the monument, and the radios which the observers used often failed to function properly.

Poaching was finally brought under control in the late 1970s. By 1976, Superintendent Blinn had become certified as a pilot and owned an OAS-certified Piper Pacer, so he was free to visit the hinterlands at a moment's notice. The following May, OAS provided the park its own plane--a Citabria on floats--and that fall, the OAS replaced it with a Cessna 185 Skywagon floatplane. A fusillade of hunting-violations cases soon followed. Monument personnel, at long last, were finally able to enforce the regulations with which they had been entrusted. By the time Superintendent Blinn left the park in 1979, the monument's anti-poaching program was largely if not totally successful. [23]

Most of the enforcement activity noted above took place in the lake country west of the Aleutian Range. But poaching, to an unknown extent, was also taking place along the Shelikof Strait coastline. Staff reacted by flying out on the coast from time to time; they also camped out and acted as on-site observers. But no evidence of poaching activities was found. [24]

An oil spill in early 1970 caused additional headaches. In January an unknown source, believed to be a tanker, discharged between 3,000 and 6,000 gallons of dirty ballast or slop oils somewhere in the waters of southcentral Alaska. State and federal officials were powerless to deal with the spillage, and by March the oil had spread from Montague Island, at the entrance to Prince William Sound, southwest to Shelikof Strait. Some of that oil had come ashore at Swikshak Bay, on Katmai's eastern shore.

Although oil had probably reached Swikshak Bay in February, National Park Service officials had no inkling that contamination had occurred there until March 8, when the Federal Water Quality Administration (FWQA) investigated. Six days later, a second visit revealed that "balls" of oil had been found on bay beaches. But despite the obvious damage, officials had no baseline information that could be used to determine if wildlife populations had been effected. It does not appear, in fact, that NPS officials visited the site during this period. Lacking obvious signs, such as dead mammals or birds, FWQA concluded that no damage had occurred. [25]

The matter was forgotten for the time being. But recognition that a spill had occurred, and that even a small spill could be environmentally destructive, awakened NPS concerns about future oil development in the area. In 1976 Thomas Kleppe, President Ford's Interior Secretary, proposed an oil and gas lease sale in Lower Cook Inlet. The NPS expressed strong opposition to such a sale, in large part because of its awareness that oil spilled in the area of the lease sale would likely wash onto the shoreline near Cape Douglas and Kamishak Bay. Before the sale could take place, however, Ford had been succeeded by Jimmy Carter. Cecil Andrus, President Carter's choice for Interior Secretary, demanded that the sale be postponed. A sale finally took place in October 1977; by that time, however, environmental stipulations tempered its deleterious effects. [26]

Another problem area which had to be dealt with was the lack of up-to-date utilities at Brooks Camp. During the 1950s, Northern Consolidated Airlines had maintained a rustic atmosphere at the camp, and amenities relating to water, sewerage, and electricity had been kept to a minimum. But in July 1954, NCA President Ray Petersen told NPS officials that he was contemplating the construction of a lodge. He tried to convince the agency to install a utility system. Regional Director Lawrence Merriam, however, bluntly replied that "it is not feasible for the Service to provide such facilities for the concessioner, unless and until we have a development in the immediate vicinity requiring utilities." In 1960, NCA again wrote the agency, requesting water, power, sewer, and power facilities in conjunction with the lodge it was planning. A lodge was, in fact, built that year, but the agency remained unwilling to invest in facilities in support of a concessioner-dominated camp that had only one NPS building and attracted few independent visitors. [27] As a result, the only NPS utility system was a generator installed in 1956, and a 500 gallon metal septic tank installed in 1961. The concessioner's utility system, which dated from the early 1960s, consisted of three cesspools, each five feet square and six feet deep, together with water and electrical facilities. [28]

With the completion, in 1962, of the road from Brooks Camp to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, the number of visitors increased. The visitors, many of whom did not fish, required better facilities than those expected of a fishing camp. It soon became apparent that the existing infrastructure was obsolete and should be replaced. Shortly after the road was completed, the Chief Engineer in the San Francisco office wrote a study that indicated major changes were needed. Recognizing that planners were calling for a 300-350 person lodge, he recommended that the concessioner needed a $40,000 sewerage system, to consist of a 10,000-gallon septic tank, a disposal field, and sewer lines. He also recommended a $46,000 well and water system and a $50,000 electrical generator system. [29]

Soon afterward, NPS officials recognized--as they had a decade earlier--that any utility improvements intended for the concessioner should include themselves as well. Since 1960 the agency had constructed several new buildings: a boathouse, a warehouse and various employee cabins. Recognizing that the future would bring on more buildings, Mt. McKinley National Park Superintendent Oscar Dick decided to combine the two systems. In 1966, he submitted a Project Construction Proposal for systems to obtain, treat, store and distribute domestic water, to collect and treat sewage, and to generate and distribute power. He proposed a leach field for the treatment of sewage, and two 40-75 kilowatt units for power generation. [30] The PCP conformed in all aspects to the existing master plan.

The concessioner was glad to hear that the two systems were going to be merged. In anticipation of that event, NCA's John Walatka approached the NPS in November 1967 and offered to sell the company's utility system to the agency. NPS officials recognized that the NCA utility system was rapidly deteriorating; in order to spare further environmental harm, therefore, the agency purchased the system in March 1969. [31] Thereafter, in return for a fee, the NPS maintained all sewers for the concessioner except within five feet of the concessioner-owned buildings. [32]

In 1967 a new master planning effort was announced. Thereafter, utility system development was held in abeyance until a new master plan could be completed. [33] The initial draft of the master plan was finally issued to the public in August 1971. During the ensuing years, sentiment grew that Brooks Camp should be de-emphasized as a development site. The draft plan, therefore, allowed Brooks Camp to grow only to a 100-guest maximum, which was "large enough to afford a profitable business operation, as well as to update the utility system and support facilities to comply with current standards and visitor needs." [34] Planners, therefore, gave a green light for the installation of an improved utility system. Construction, however, had to await the final version of the master plan.

Meanwhile, engineers firmed up construction plans for the proposed system. In October 1970, the NPS's Western Service Center, in San Francisco, issued a draft Design Directive for Brooks Camp. The directive called for a new water supply, new sewer and electrical systems, and other ancillary developments. The final directive, approved the following February, urged that the utilities outlined in the 1966 PCP be constructed. The projected cost for the new systems was $360,000. It was hoped that construction could begin in FY 1972. [35]

Following the preparation of an environmental statement, the NPS, in January 1973, issued a notice for bids for the project. Specifications included the construction of new water, sewerage, fuel storage and electrical systems; in addition, the project called for the erection of new boat docks, landfill fencing and a fish cleaning station. The R. D. Peterson Company won the $590,000 project. The master plan, by good fortune, was completed that December, and work was able to commence in May 1974. [36]

The contract was completed in October 1975. During 1974 and 1975, therefore, disrupted conditions prevailed at Brooks Camp. As Superintendent Blinn recalled the situation, noise from the construction effort started about six in the morning and went on until ten at night. The air was often dusty, and a number of trees had to be removed, some to make way for utility line trenches, others because they grew at the site of the proposed leach field. [37]

Access problems for both planes and boats became an increasing problem during the early 1970s. The use of small powerboats, as noted in Chapter 4, had proven to be a less-than-ideal method for crossing Brooks River. In addition, airplanes found it difficult to remain at Brooks Camp because of windy conditions. Construction of a dock at Mortuary Cove was, by now, deemed unfeasible.

To overcome the difficulties associated with crossing the river, two different planning studies in the late 1960s called for the construction of a footbridge. [38] By 1971, a Brooks Camp design directive noted that "a solution to the crossing of this river is necessary if the present concession bus operation continues." Specifically, it noted that "a trail bridge has been suggested to cross the Brooks River ... to transport fishermen, sightseers, supplies and solid waste across the river. The bridge width shall be limited to six feet in order to exclude conventional vehicles." Due to ecological factors, planners urged that the bridge be located one-quarter to one-half mile upstream from the river mouth, not at the mouth itself. The report proposed that $176,000 be spent for bridge construction in the 1972 fiscal year. [39]

When the Brooks Camp utility system was improved in 1974-75, access issues for both boats and airplanes were not ignored. The construction of an improved dock, to be built near the mouth of Brooks River, was included in the contract. The dock would provide a safe anchorage for planes at Brooks Camp and would better service the boat traffic crossing Brooks River. On the north side of the river the short, linear dock which had existed since the early 1960s was lengthened from approximately 40 feet to 60 feet. In addition, a 68-foot extension was built on the west side of the embayment, and a 173-foot extension added to the east side. [40] But the bridge which had been requested in the 1971 design directive was not included in the utility system contract.

The early to mid-1970s witnessed a healthy growth in the monument's budget. Between 1969 and 1975, the budget grew from $121,000 to $202,400. The increased budget allowed the monument to hire a few new staff. In 1969, just before the arrival of Superintendent Blinn, the staff was limited to a single management assistant, a maintenance worker, four seasonal rangers, and a seasonal clerk-typist. By 1975, permanent staff consisted of Blinn, a full-time park ranger, and a maintenance mechanic. A half-dozen rangers and a clerk-typist worked during the summer season. [41]

The increased budget also allowed for new improvements. Early on, Blinn hoped to deal with the indiscriminate parking of vehicles on the south side of Brooks River by levelling out a parking area away from public view. By the spring of 1971, he announced the impeding construction of the lot, and urged both Wien Consolidated Airlines (WCA) and National Marine Fisheries Service personnel to avoid parking near the boat dock except during loading and unloading operations. The lot was completed in 1972. [42]

New buildings were also added during the period. Included in the Brooks Camp utility contract was a generator and water treatment building and a fish cleaning building. In addition, the bunk house used by the construction workers became the monument's visitor center in 1977, and is presently called the auditorium. At King Salmon, a double-wide mobile home was delivered in 1974; it was used as the residence of the Maintenance Leader. [43]

Preparing a Master Plan and Wilderness Study

As noted in Chapter 4, the NPS issued its Master Plan Brief for Katmai in 1967. The plan was revised only slightly from the 1965 plan. It was more conservative than before; for instance, it did not call for an expansion of the monument, either to the north or west.

The conservatism of the 1967 document did not, by any means, indicate that agency personnel had given up interest in increasing Katmai's acreage. Instead, it meant that NPS planners were becoming more interested in looking at parklands across the state than merely on a park-by-park basis. In April 1966, the agency opened the Anchorage-based Alaska Field Office. It was staffed by Harry Smith, a park planner. The office was nominally considered an organizational arm of Mount McKinley National Park, and was headed by its superintendent. But its purpose was planning, not operations; in addition, it served to coordinate the NPS's planning activities with those of the State and other Federal agencies. After 1967, the office increasingly served as a liaison to the Office of Cooperative Activities in Washington. Planning teams organized in the Western Service Center in San Francisco spent the next several years preparing master plans for Alaska's existing park areas. They also studied potential new park units. [44]

In December 1966, park planner Bailey O. Breedlove replaced Smith at the Alaska Field Office. A year later, he was appointed as the team captain for a new Katmai master plan. Assisted by team members from the Western Service Center and Mount McKinley National Park, Breedlove plunged into the creation of a new master plan. He was told to have a draft plan ready by the fall of 1968. [45]

The creation of the master plan team put new developments, such as a Brooks Camp airstrip or a new utility system, on hold. It also had the practical effect of extending the concessioner's contract for only one year at a time; a multi-year contract would probably have included provisions for capital expenditures by the NPS and/or the concessioner. [46]

Regional officials originally hoped to complete the master plan draft by the end of 1968. Due to a lack of funding, however, little or no work was accomplished that year. [47]

While planners waited for funding, a major new issue--wilderness--was thrust upon them. Most of the monument was a de facto wilderness; the only developed areas were Brooks and Grosvenor camps, the Valley road, the area surrounding Lake Camp, and a few scattered cabins and shelters. During the 1950s and early 1960s, few Alaskans perceived that wilderness--either in Katmai or elsewhere in Alaska, for that matter--was a valued resource. But the master plan field study of 1963 clearly stated that wilderness was high on the list of Katmai's virtues. Other NPS plans, since the early 1950s, had implicitly guarded the monument's wilderness resource as well. [48]

In 1964, the Congressional passage of the Wilderness Act made wilderness a national issue. It specifically identified what lands could qualify as wilderness, and set a ten-year timetable by which Federal agencies had to determine which lands should be considered eligible as wilderness. In response, the NPS made a crude wilderness determination in its 1965 Master Plan Brief. Planners concluded that 2,023,890 acres in Katmai--75 percent of its total area--were eligible for wilderness designation. [49]

Katmai planners ignored wilderness for the next three years. In the spring of 1968, however, the Washington-based Assistant Director for Cooperative Activities began to worry about completing the wilderness program on time. Because Katmai was then in the midst of its master plan effort, he urged the master planning team to incorporate wilderness into its planning effort. [50]

Breedlove, who now headed a wilderness identification effort as well as a master plan team, spent the next year assembling a data base on monument resources. In June, he sent his superiors the fruits of his labors, a massive compendium which was used by planners for years afterwards. [51]

The master planning effort coalesced slowly, postponing the concessioner's plans for another year. In the summer of 1969, however, momentum increased. The planning team visited the monument and began to formulate new concepts on how Katmai should be managed. [52]

The team soon came to recognize that development at Brooks Camp was incompatible with the wilderness values of the surrounding area and the wildlife values in the camp's vicinity. Specifically, officials were nervous about the increasing number of bear-human confrontations taking place in the vicinity. [53] In the short term, however, they condoned development. They approved of pending utility and docking improvements and agreed that the concessioner needed a few additional units.

Because of the ecological difficulties, however, the planners sought an alternate development location and developed a long-range policy of eliminating Brooks Camp as primary visitor facility. The team recommended that new lodges be established on the northwest shore of Naknek Lake (to be reached by road from King Salmon) and at Kukak Bay. There were to be no other overnight accommodations in the monument. [54]

Breedlove was responsible for the selection of an alternate site along the northwest shore of Naknek Lake. The 1965 and 1967 master plans had called for access into the monument in the Lake Camp area. Two years of NPS management at Lake Camp, however, had taught the agency that the site was accessible by boat only from July through freeze up. Prior to that, the water was too shallow. Breedlove, therefore, looked for a deep water dock along the north side of the lake. He went so far as to make soundings along the shoreline in order to identify a specific site where that port might be located. [55]

The events of 1970 seemed as deliberate as those which had taken place the previous two years. The planning team took another trip to the monument that summer, but did not complete the plan that year. Wien Consolidated got so miffed at the slow bureaucratic pace that Ray Petersen, its head, unloaded a well-deserved vitriolic blast at Ernest Borgman, NPS's General Superintendent for Alaska. The agency, normally cautious, was so apologetic that it acceded to a five-year concession contract, the first it had awarded since 1961. [56] The master plan and wilderness recommendations were presented to state officials that summer. Toward the end of the year, the plan was given a final peer review; it preceded the March 1971 circulation of a preliminary version of the plan. [57]

The public finally saw the draft master plan in August 1971. The plan followed in the same path expressed by the planning team in 1969; in so doing, it attempted to change the direction of Katmai development. Just as the 1953 Alaska Recreation Survey, the 1958 Mission 66 Program proposals, and the 1965 Master Plan brief had done, the plan proposed a geographical diversification of monument facilities (see Map 6). It proposed that the monument's major "use-node" and transportation hub would be located on or near the boot-shaped Naknek Peninsula, and that a new all-weather road would be constructed from King Salmon to the site. Most visitors would arrive at the site via a shuttle bus. Other proposed use nodes would be the Bay of Islands, Kukak Bay, and Research Bay, the latter site being located on the south side of Iliuk Arm. The plan envisioned that Geographic Harbor would become a secondary development, while Brooks Camp would be a tertiary development. Lodging was proposed for all six sites. The existing Grosvenor Camp facility, however, was scheduled to be replaced by a seasonal ranger station and a campground. All six lodging sites were to be accessed by tour boats as well as floatplanes. The new plan had some similarities to the 1965 and 1967 plans, but it differed in that it called for lodging on the Naknek Peninsula, at Research Bay, and at Geographic Harbor. [58]

draft master plan map
Map 6. In August 1971, the NPS released a preliminary working draft of the monument's master plan. It called for the largest development site to be located on the Naknek Peninsula, with other large developments at King Salomon, Research Bay, Bay of Islands, and Kukak Bay. The existing development sites, Brooks Camp and Grosvenor Camp, were to be de-emphasized. Source: NPS, Katmai National Monument, A Master Plan, August 1971, 17. (click image for an enlargement in a new window)

Another new element was its attempt to de-emphasize the future role of Brooks Camp. Because of ecological considerations, the principal long-range objective for the area was a reduction in the number of visitors to that area. While conceding that Brooks would "remain a popular fisherman's camp," planners vowed that it would remain the gateway to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes only until an alternate site was developed at Research Bay. Over the short term, planners continued to tacitly recommend that the camps grow in a virtually unhindered manner. They intended to allow Brooks Camp to grow to a 100-guest maximum, which was "large enough to afford a profitable business operation, as well as to update the utility system and support facilities to comply with current standards and visitor needs." [59]

Though there was broad agreement in the general thrust of the proposed master plan, agency personnel questioned many specific aspects of it. Specific sites for the Naknek Peninsula and Research Bay developments had not been established; even so, criticism quickly surfaced that most of the Naknek Peninsula was too windy and exposed for development, and that the water depth at both sites was too shallow to allow boat or plane access. Regarding the Bay of Islands site, some felt that its resource value was too great to allow commercial development. Also, some felt that the Service's plan to eliminate Grosvenor Camp was fine in theory, but that "the prospects of removing this camp ... are remote." [60]

The preliminary Katmai wilderness study was issued at the same time as the draft master plan. The plan called for two areas to be designated as wilderness: one tract covering 2,551,000 acres, and a smaller one which encompassed just 2,100 acres. The first tract covered most of the Katmai's land area, and additionally included Lake Coville, Idavain Lake, various smaller lakes in the eastern monument, and the islands in Shelikof Strait. The 2,100 acre tract was a narrow corridor which extended between the Valley Road and Naknek Lake. The two proposed wilderness areas comprised over 91 percent of the monument.

Planners were careful to exclude from wilderness any areas that might interfere with proposed developments contemplated in the master plan. Naknek Lake, Brooks Lake, and Lake Grosvenor were excluded because the concessioner used them; indeed, Naknek Lake was being proposed for motorized boat use. The Valley road was also excluded, as was Naknek Peninsula and the shoreline connecting the peninsula to King Salmon. [61]

Alaskans were given a broad opportunity to comment on both the master plan and the wilderness study. On November 17 and 18, the NPS held public hearings in Anchorage; on November 19 and 20, the meetings shifted to Juneau. Master plan hearings for both Katmai and Glacier Bay were held on the 17th and 19th; wilderness hearings for the two monuments took place on the 18th and 20th. Participants submitted most of the Katmai testimony at the Anchorage meetings or in written statements submitted in the weeks which followed. [62] The agency also held a hearing in Naknek for Bristol Bay Borough residents. [63]

The NPS received a wide spectrum of comments to its proposals, mostly in response to the wilderness study. The bureau received over 200 letters in addition to the 30-odd statements presented at the hearings. Most favored placing broad restrictions on development activity at the monument. More than 85 percent of the letters supported either the NPS wilderness proposal, conservation-organization proposals (which suggested that the Bay of Islands and most of Lake Grosvenor be added to the NPS wilderness proposal), or various independent proposals which suggested more wilderness than the NPS had proposed. Almost three-fifths of the speakers at the hearings expressed similar viewpoints. [64]

Lovers of wilderness, therefore, finally got their opportunity to show support for Katmai's wilderness. The monument was singular in that it still had the largest land area of any unit in the National Park System. The public, moreover, had the opportunity to reserve over 90 percent of the monument as wilderness. Katmai, however, did not have the tourist accessibility or the awe-inspiring lure that brought forth large numbers of advocates in support of wilderness for Mount McKinley or Glacier Bay. [65] While NPS officials had been well aware of Katmai's wilderness resource for a decade or more, few advocates of conservation or outdoor recreation spoke out for it. A notable exception to the norm was Dave Bohn, who extensively explored the monument in the mid-1970s. As a result of his travels, and in celebration of the raw wilderness he had encountered, he published Rambles in an Alaskan Wild in 1979. In eloquent, glowing terms, Bohn described Katmai as one of the great American wilderness areas. [66] But most conservationists, who by this time were immersed in a legislative battle over the fate of Alaska's wild lands, seemed far more concerned about the Brooks Range, the area surrounding Mount McKinley, the Wrangell-St. Elias area, and other wilderness tracts.

While conservationists, many of whom lived outside the state, gave strong support to wilderness, most Alaskans opposed making the vast majority of the monument off-limits to potential park service development actions. Governor William A. Egan, for instance, was one of several that demanded that the NPS reserve a corridor for a future highway route across the monument, and also called for a reservation for a future ferry terminal at Geographic Harbor. [67] Egan and others also demanded the right to hunt wolves and otherwise manipulate wildlife populations. Finally, Egan joined many Alaskans who opposed wilderness philosophically. The Alaska Miners' Association, for instance, bridled against any proposed actions that would limit access to the mining fraternity, and the Pioneers of Alaska detested "the creation of Federal lands that under law would provide enjoyment for only a select few." [68]

Wien Consolidated Airlines, the monument concessioner, had mixed feelings about the draft plans. It protested the proposed closure of Idavain Lake and the majority of Lake Coville and, like Governor Egan, it urged the construction of a trans-peninsula road. But it supported the idea of the Naknek Peninsula development site, supported the closure of the western end of Lake Coville, and urged the NPS to add the Bay of Islands area to the proposed wilderness acreage. [69]

The hearings held in Anchorage and Juneau were tame in comparison with that held in Naknek. Locals were still angry over the 1969 monument expansion, and were in no mood to reasonably respond to calls for greater land-use controls over the monument. Gil Blinn, who conducted the meeting, remembered that "People didn't want to talk about the master plan. They wanted to talk about how to abolish the whole park. The locals talked about how their ancestors, their fathers had hunted and trapped up there and that was a right that was being denied them." [70]

One of the meeting participants was Jay Hammond, the state senator from Naknek. Hammond, as noted in Chapter 4, had fought the park service all through the 1960s because he had advocated the construction of a road through the monument. By 1971, he was still a stalwart backer of the road and wrote an eloquent, impassioned letter to Governor Egan in defense of a trans-monument route. At the hearings themselves, however, he did an abrupt about-face. Superintendent Blinn, remembering that day, recalled that "When [the hearing] was all done he came up and he shook my hand and he says, 'I think the Park Service is just doing exactly what needs to be done.' He couldn't say that publicly, I'm sure. But it was really nice to feel that there was some support there from him." [71]

The hearings brought to the surface what locals had been thinking all along. Residents of Naknek and King Salmon, Native and non-Native alike, saw the monument as a place where they were not welcome, where they couldn't hunt, trap, or fish. They saw all the visitors coming into the park but they felt that the money was all going to the Anchorage-based concessioner, with little impact on the local economy. [72]

ANCSA and the d-2 Process

Once the hearings concluded, Park Service officials got ready to consider the wealth of data provided to them. To a large extent, the future of much of the monument was about to be decided over the next few months. Before the comment period closed, however, Congress passed a bill which would shed a significant amount of new light on the master plan and wilderness study, and promised major changes on how the monument and the surrounding areas were to be managed.

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) passed Congress, and on December 18, 1971, President Richard Nixon signed it into law. The bill had been a long time coming. As early as 1966, Congress had begun to recognize that a bill "dealing with Alaska Natives' land problems" was needed. At about the same time, the Secretary of the Interior, as if in agreement, ordered the large-scale land freeze. Bills intending to deal with Native concerns had little chance for passage at first, but the remarkable discovery of oil on Alaska's north slope, announced in March 1968, made legislators realize that the Native land question had to be settled. The major oil companies soon concluded that a north-south pipeline was the most expeditious way to get the product to market. Without a land settlement, they knew that no pipeline would ever be laid across the Yukon River valley. [73]

Over the next three years, the bill which became ANCSA was debated with growing intensity. Its original purpose was to determine which lands should be allotted to Alaska's Natives, and how state land selections would be determined based on Native claims. It soon became apparent, however, that a third element--a national interest lands component--should be included as a provision within whatever bill emerged from the Congress.

This study is not the place to determine how ANCSA evolved from a bill into Public Law 92-203. What emerged from the process was a document which recognized the rights of Alaska's Natives to 40,000,000 acres of land, and also paid them $925,500,000 for extinguishment of all previous aboriginal titles or claims to those titles. Most germane to Alaska's national park units, section 17(d)(2) of the act gave the Secretary of the Interior authority to withdraw up to 80,000,000 acres as so-called "national interest" lands. These lands were to be managed as national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, or as wild and scenic rivers. In addition, section 17(d)(1) called for the withdrawal of other public interest lands in the state, asking the Secretary to "review the public lands in Alaska and determine whether any portion of these lands should be withdrawn ... to insure that the public interest ... is properly protected." [74]

The act provided a series of timetables under which the various withdrawals were to be made. The Secretary of the Interior was given just 90 days to withdraw lands under the so-called "d-1" provision, and nine months to withdraw lands under the "d-2" provision. Lands not withdrawn would become available for selection by the State of Alaska or for appropriation under the public land laws. Two years after the act, any lands withdrawn under the "d-2" provision that were not recommended as future national parks, refuges, forests, or wild and scenic rivers would be released for other uses. The areas that were so recommended as parks or other reservations had to be created within seven years after the act's passage; otherwise, the land would be released for other uses. [75]

With the passage of ANCSA, therefore, Department officials realized that they had a major planning effort on their hands. Three days after the act was signed, the Assistant Secretary assigned NPS Director Hartzog and the head of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife to begin the process of identifying and prioritizing lands for preservation. Hartzog, in turn, asked Ted Swem, the Assistant Director for Cooperative Activities, to coordinate NPS efforts. He asked Richard Stenmark, from the agency's Alaska Field Office, to help in those efforts. [76]

Regarding Katmai, Swem and Stenmark had several models upon which they could base recommendations for acreage expansion. The 1952-53 boundary studies, the Operation Great Land study of 1964-65, and the 1965 Master Plan Brief had all suggested that the monument be expanded to both the north and west. The western expansion had been enacted in 1969. During the final stages in the legislative battle that led to ANCSA, Director Hartzog delineated 27 proposed NPS areas in the state. Most were proposals for new units, but additions to Mount McKinley and to the north side of Katmai were also included. [77]

Stenmark traveled to Washington in early January 1972, and just two days later he laid out a preliminary list of twelve new or expanded natural areas and ten cultural areas. The list called for a 900,000-acre expansion of Katmai National Monument. That list wended its way through the Interior Department, and on March 9, just before the 90-day deadline imposed by ANCSA, Secretary of the Interior Rogers Morton made a preliminary withdrawal of 47.1 million acres for d-1 purposes and another 80 million acres of d-2 lands. A slightly modified list, announced on March 15, included over 33 million acres of new NPS acreage; among them was 1,218,490 acres of additions to Katmai National Monument. [78] The withdrawal, more than 300,000 acres larger than the amount roughed out in January, was significant because it was the first proposal that called for additions to land south and southwest of the monument.

Predictably, the announced withdrawals brought forth wide disparities of opinion. Conservationists reacted fairly favorably to them. NPS Director Hartzog, however, thought that they were "a complete disaster" because many potential park areas were allotted to the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. Alaskan leaders, for entirely different reasons, were also strongly opposed; one called it a "massive land grab," while another said the withdrawal "staggers the imagination." [79]

The NPS and other Interior agencies spent the next six months fine-tuning the preliminary selections they had made in March. Recognizing that a long-term land planning effort lay ahead, the NPS appointed Albert G. Henson, a planner, to head a 38-member Alaska Task Force (ATF) which worked in the Washington office. The regional office (in Seattle) and the Alaska Field Office (in Anchorage) provided support services to the ATF, while the Denver Service Center provided specialized technical support. The roles of the ATF and the existing staff hierarchy, predictably, often overlapped; five members of the ATF, for instance, were permanently stationed at the Alaska Field Office. [80]

The ATF was given the task of ensuring that the September 1972 withdrawals included the best lands available. Time, however, was preciously short. It assembled in Anchorage in early June, and after a month of intense field work made its first tentative recommendation. The task force suggested that Katmai should be increased by 1,584,740 acres--more than 350,000 acres larger than that recommended in March. [81]

Field work continued for another two months, and on September 13, just before the nine-month deadline imposed by ANCSA, the Secretary announced the recommended withdrawals. Among them were additions to Katmai National Monument totalling 1,411,900 acres. The potential new parklands by this time formed a long, C-shaped band which girdled all but the eastern side of the monument. [82]

Interest in Katmai's resources, at least within the agency, seemed to grow as task force members learned more about the area. Because few organized groups or agencies showed much interest in the lands surrounding Katmai, and because there were few competing uses for land outside the monument, the momentum created by task force personnel soon manifested itself in proposals to expand the monument. Gil Blinn, the first Katmai superintendent, remembers that the monument had little outside interest or support when he arrived there in 1969; it was "still unknown except in the National Geographic Magazines." Annual visitation beyond Lake Camp was less than 2000 per year. "Frankly," he noted, "there wasn't much support for it. Just because nobody knew of it." [83] In November 1971, the NPS had made a first-cut recommendation of 900,000 acres. During the ensuing ten months, however, that recommendation had grown to over 1,400,000 acres. More study of the area, as shall be seen, would increase the recommended acreage even further.

Katmai Issues a Master Plan

The stipulations in ANCSA demanded that by December 18, 1973, the Secretary of the Interior make legislative recommendations to Congress on the 80,000,000 acres it had withdrawn in September 1972. Conceptual master plans that would delineate management proposals for the proposed areas, environmental statements, and detailed legislative support data for each area, would also have to be completed by December 1973. [84]

The requirements of the act created confusion for those who were responsible for the completion of a Katmai master plan. As noted above, a master plan and wilderness study for the national monument had been in the preparation phase since the late 1960s, and hearings on the drafts of both documents had been completed just a month before ANCSA was signed into law. Park Service officials recognized that ANCSA required that master plans be completed only for proposed areas. But in Katmai's case, it seemed quite illogical to create a master plan for only the narrow, C-shaped "ring" which surrounded the existing monument. The agency, therefore, decided shortly after the September 1972 withdrawals to use the information contained in the draft monument master plan as the basis for creating a master plan for an expanded monument.

The ongoing wilderness study was thus handled differently from the master plan work. Until this time, the master plan and wilderness study efforts had gone hand in hand; the two draft reports were prepared at the same time, and hearings on them were held on consecutive days. But ANCSA did not require that the Department of the Interior make any wilderness studies. The two efforts, therefore, were separated. The master plan, produced by Washington-based planners, covered the existing monument plus new areas proposed by the Department of the Interior. The final wilderness study was produced through the Pacific Northwest Regional Office, and covered only the area in the existing monument. The process which created the master plan is discussed below; the creation of the final wilderness study is discussed in the next section.

In the weeks following the November 1971 hearings, Katmai National Monument's master planning team busied itself in responding to the broad range of oral and written testimony. The revised plan was sent up the bureaucratic ladder, and in March 1972 NPS Director Hartzog approved it. [85] Several months later, however, the regional office completed its final wilderness recommendations for the monument, necessitating a few minor changes in the plan. Personnel at NPS's Alaska State Office were told that the plan still needed an environmental statement in order to be considered final. That statement was scheduled to be submitted to the Washington office on October 1, 1972. Not for another month, however, was John Rutter, the regional director, able to sign off on a completed master plan and wilderness study. [86]

On September 12, just before Secretary Morton made his 1.4 million acre Katmai withdrawal, Al Henson of the Alaska Task Force announced that the NPS was commencing a planning effort for an area well beyond the existing monument boundaries. Secretary Morton, in his September 18 withdrawals, called for additions to Katmai National Monument. Henson, however, declared that "The status of Katmai National Monument should be enhanced by changing its name to Katmai National Park." Henson gave three reasons for supporting an enlarged monument: 1) to include important brown bear habitat, 2) to realign boundaries to include headwaters of all rivers presently contained in the monument, and 3) to make Katmai a more representative example of the several landforms and biological systems found on the upper Alaska Peninsula by including a major section of lowland tundra. He justified national park status for Katmai because it would 1) increase assurance that the area will remain as inviolate as legislative mandates allow, 2) increase public awareness of Katmai's values through the increases in publicity for the area that will be generated by park establishment, and 3) meet requests of conservation groups and recommendations of Secretary of the Interior's Advisory Board on National Parks and Monuments. [87] The proposal to expand Katmai was to go through many hurdles during the next eight years, but the NPS consistently called the expanded unit Katmai National Park after Henson announced the name change, and other groups did as well. [88]

Alaska Task Force members continued their efforts for the remainder of the year. Then, in January 1973, Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Reed announced that all Department planning efforts would henceforth be conducted by the Alaska Planning Group (APG), an ad hoc group which consisted of planners from the various Interior agencies. The NPS Alaska Task Force, which had been created the previous year, retained a nominal identity but was subsumed into the APG. NPS planners in the new group took the reins in developing the master plan for Katmai National Park. [89]

Because the master plan for the existing monument had already been finalized, and because there were few land-use conflicts in areas being considered for park expansion, one of the few major tasks facing the Katmai planners was the amount of acreage to add. By mid-March 1973, a preliminary master plan and draft environmental statement had been completed. The bold new plan called for an addition of 2,301,000 acres to the existing monument. As he had the previous September, Henson justified the rationale for expanding the monument and reclassifying it as a national park. He hoped that "Katmai would be a pure park and [have] no provision for mining, hunting or other resource extraction." [90]

John Rutter, the Regional Director in Seattle, received a copy of the mid-March report. He did not like what he saw. He had no quibble with the size of the proposed new park. His criticism was with the lack of consistency it bore to the planning efforts which had been taking place in the regional office for the past several years. He found numerous instances in which the APG's plan ran contrary to decisions made in the formulation of both the master plan and wilderness study. The APG, for instance, abandoned the idea that Naknek Peninsula should become Katmai's major transportation hub, and it also concluded that Brooks Camp should be eliminated. Rutter, who had overseen the creation of both the master plan and the wilderness study, was angry at having both decisions overridden. He was particularly angry when the APG suggested that a whole new wilderness study--one that included proposed as well as existing NPS lands--ought to be conducted. [91] Stung by the regional director, the APG modified its plans to fit in with those which already existed.

The Katmai plan was one of the first which the APG produced. By mid-June 1973, the Interior Department planning group had made tentative recommendations for each of Alaska's new and expanded NPS units. Not surprisingly, groups outside the Department saw things differently. The Forest Service, for instance, hoped that it might be awarded a whopping 42,000,000 of the 80,000,000 acres included in the d-2 provision. Another group, the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission (JFSLUPC), proposed a complex patchwork of uses on d-2 lands; it recommended, for instance, that only 3,000,000 acres be closed to hunters. The JFSLUPC, which had been created by ANCSA, held over thirty hearings in Alaskan communities on the various proposals. [92]

The pressure of outside interests succeeded in watering down the Alaska Planning Group's earlier proposals. In June, the APG had recommended that 49.1 million out of 85.3 million acres be placed in National Park Service areas. When Secretary Morton forwarded the proposed legislation to Congress on December 18, however, only 32.6 million of 83.5 million acres were recommended as new or expanded NPS areas. Katmai National Park, which in June was proposed to be expanded by 2,301,000 acres, had its expanded area reduced to 1,867,863 acres. In addition, however, the NPS recommended that so-called areas of ecological concern be established west, north, and northeast of the existing monument. [93]

On December 18, 1973 (the deadline set by ANCSA), the Alaska Planning Group issued a master plan and a draft Environmental Impact Statement for Katmai National Park. The master plan, which had been in the incubation stages since the 1960s, had originally been intended to be a final master plan for the monument. But because of the proposed new parkland that was also considered since the passage of ANCSA, the 1973 master plan was a strange hybrid, a combination of a draft and final plan. To a large extent, the master plan served as a final master plan for the existing monument and provided only a rough, general idea on how the agency planned its management strategy. The draft Environmental Impact Statement, however, concentrated on areas outside the existing monument, and discussed such issues as how large the new park should be and what land uses should be allowed within the newly-expanded acreage. [94]

The master plan, which reflected the concerns that Regional Director Rutter had expressed in March 1973, offered several modifications from those originally presented in the August 1971 draft volumes. It noted, for instance, that the park's major visitor facility was to include lodge-type accommodations at the west end of the park. The Naknek Peninsula, though admittedly a preferred site, was only one of three possible locations for that development; the other two sites were in King Salmon and on "the morainal ridge at the West End of Naknek Lake." Research Bay and Kukak Bay were both designated as primary development sites, as they had been in 1971. The role of Research Bay, however, was de-emphasized, having been "tentatively selected as a possible visitor use-node" which "could become the gateway to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes." Grosvenor Camp, which had been slated for replacement by a ranger station in the 1971 plan, was allowed to remain. But the Bay of Islands development was renamed North Arm and moved west several miles. Regarding Brooks Camp, the anti-development rhetoric of the draft plan was replaced with more conciliatory language; it noted that "Further study is needed to determine the role of Brooks Camp and to stress the need of maintaining the camp's impact on the environment." The 100-guest ceiling suggested in the draft plan remained. Although the plan continued to suggest that Research Bay would eventually replace Brooks Camp as the base for bus trips to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, the growing recognition that "conventional lodge or hotel-type units" were not appropriate to the vast majority of the park militated against the growth of facilities which might have supplanted those at Brooks Camp. This plan, like the 1971 draft, proposed shuttle bus service to the west-end development site, and tour boats or charter float planes to the other lakeside developments. [95]

The 1974 Final Wilderness Statement

As noted above, the NPS issued a draft wilderness study for Katmai National Monument in August 1971, the same month it issued a draft master plan. Public hearings for both were held that November. Soon after the mid-December passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, it became evident that the monument was going to be enlarged. The act, in fact, mandated that a master plan be issued which encompassed proposed new monument boundaries. Wilderness, however, was not specifically addressed in ANCSA. Planners operating out of the Washington office prepared the master plan, while staffers at the Pacific Northwest Regional Office in Seattle prepared the final wilderness statement.

The NPS did what it could to respond favorably to the written and oral comments it received. Because most of the comments supported the protection of all of the NPS-recommended wilderness acreage (if not more), the revised draft plan continued to have a large percentage of the monument recommended as wilderness. In response to comments from Alaskan officials who demanded the right to manipulate wildlife populations, the NPS responded that such management was not incompatible with wilderness. And to those who demanded a site for a future ferry dock in Geographic Harbor, planners responded that such a site had been excluded from consideration as wilderness. [96]

The Park Service also tried to be accommodating to the monument concessioner. Wien, as well as national conservation groups, had testified that the Bay of Islands area should be added to the proposed wilderness; the NPS, which had had its own misgivings about development at the site, concurred and moved the potential use node west to an area it called North Arm. Wien also testified that much of the motorboat and float plane traffic emanating from Grosvenor Camp headed down Lake Coville, and the NPS responded by removing the lake from wilderness. But the NPS also moved to protect the wilderness qualities of the Savonoski canoe loop by placing all but the western end of Lake Grosvenor in the proposed wilderness. Wien was unsuccessful in removing the proposed closure for Idavain Lake. [97]

The most vociferous protests came from those who demanded that the agency create a corridor for a future trans-peninsula highway. Governor William A. Egan, Wien Consolidated, State Senator Jay Hammond, and boroughs on both sides of Cook Inlet all fought to keep a road corridor open. [98]

The battle was joined much as it had been during the mid-1960s. On one side stood the National Park Service, who held that a road would violate the values for which the monument was created. It also argued that there were other trans-peninsula routes that did not impact on the monument, and that the nature of the volcanic substrate was such that any road built through Katmai Pass would be extremely expensive to build and maintain. On the other side stood state and local interests who saw the road as a key to regional economic development. They felt that a road through the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes would have little effect on monument values, and that a road connecting the end of the Valley road with Geographic Harbor was the least expensive route across the peninsula. The nature of the controversy allowed no common ground between them.

In response to the many protests directed its way, the NPS had two effective replies. First, the Director of the agency had consistently gone on record as opposing the road because it did not serve any of the primary purposes of the monument. Second, the Alaska Department of Highways had, sometime between 1968 and 1971, removed the conceptual proposal for the road from its road construction program. The reason for the deletion is unclear; it may have been related to a possible copper mining development near Lake Clark, or it may have been a simple response to the Park Service's "outright refusal" to consider the route. Regardless of the reason, the primary state road study route connecting King Salmon with Cook Inlet swept north of Iliamna Lake. (Alternate state road study routes followed along the south shore of Iliamna Lake, and southeast from King Salmon to Alinchak Bay via the north shore of Becharof Lake.) NPS officials were able to deflect the brunt of public criticism by transferring it back to the state highway department. [99]

State officials, stung by the Park Service's rebuke on the road issue, apparently tried to revive the idea by showing federal officials the breadth of interest in the issue. The intended route would not be an extension of the existing Valley road, but instead would go across the north side of Naknek Lake from King Salmon, cross over the Aleutian Range, and come out at a proposed Kukak Bay ferry terminal. Gil Blinn recalled that

when they had a hearing in Naknek on the idea, only ten people testified. The Bristol Bay Borough, the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the State Highways Division all testified in favor. Ernie Borgman came out representing the Park Service, from Anchorage, and testified against it. A number of the local people and people from Iliamna came out and testified against any road, although most of them said if you're gonna have to put in a road we'd prefer it be through the park. They also felt that the Park Service could control the use and development along that road better than if the road ran through some other lands.

Blinn himself appears to have been a catalyst in subduing the pro-road forces. Before the hearings, he called the Bristol Bay Borough manager and asked if he would accept written comment. The manager replied in the affirmative because many could not get to the meeting. Blinn therefore "put the word out to the environmental community and they got a number of letters all opposing the road. And after that hearing the matter was just dropped. It never surfaced again." [100]

Potential power development was another activity which, like road proposals, had ramifications on wilderness eligibility. During the early 1960s, the Bureau of Reclamation had identified one potential power site in the monument (and two others just beyond its borders) among 15 potential sites in southwestern Alaska. Lake Grosvenor was considered a potential hydroelectric project site of 8,700 kilowatt prime capacity. A dam at American Creek, just north of the monument, was thought to have a prime capacity of 14,300 kilowatts, and a Nonvianuk Lake site might generate 27,300 kilowatts. None of the three sites, however, were in the top echelon of those surveyed in southwestern Alaska. [101]

In 1969 the Federal Power Survey, sponsored by the Federal Power Commission, identified many new sites for hydroelectric power production throughout the state. An inventory grade preliminary study of the area by the Alaska Power Administration (APA), completed in 1972, agreed that the best potential dam site in the area was on the Naknek River, approximately six miles below Naknek Lake. Such a dam, if built, "could provide significant power supplies for the King Salmon and Naknek areas," and offered an installed capacity of 108,000 kilowatts. It would also, however, raise the level of Naknek Lake 116 feet, it would block the passage of salmon into the Naknek Lake watershed, and would impact on a significant amount of NPS land. The NPS was not considering Naknek Lake for wilderness designation, and the potential dam site was outside of monument boundaries. But raising the lake level would raise the level of the monument's four largest lakes--making one large reservoir in the western monument--and would inundate both of the existing visitor facilities.

Recognizing the adverse effects it would create, the APA made no detailed studies of the project. In May 1973 it effectively opted out of the project when it told the NPS that "any future consideration of this development would depend upon a finding that the project is compatible with Monument objectives and other values." [102] Potential power developments were no longer a threat to wilderness eligibility.

It took NPS planners six months to issue their first response to the various public comments. In May 1972, the NPS issued a preliminary, in-house response to the public testimony. The revised wilderness plan called for two tracts, one of 2,541,890 acres, the other of 2,000 acres. During the past six months, planners had added 3,540 acres, including the Bay of Islands and a small island in Lake Grosvenor. Perhaps at the suggestion of WCA president Ray Petersen, the agency had eliminated wilderness on Lake Coville; they had also deleted small amounts of acreage surrounding various proposed development sites. The result was a net loss of 9,210 acres from the draft study. [103]

Two months later, the NPS released the results of the wilderness study to the public. Between May and July, more changes were made, and the July 1972 plan recommended a total of 2,603,547 acres for wilderness: 2,601,547 in one tract, and 2,000 in the other. Added to the proposed wilderness was all but the west end of Lake Grosvenor. In addition, the NPS added a narrow "management zone" bordering the park, which had been excluded from wilderness in the earlier drafts, and agreed to include a series of existing and proposed shelter sites in the wilderness, conceding that such improvements were compatible with wilderness management. The July plan, in comparison with the one submitted in November 1971, added 63,187 acres to wilderness while deleting 12,740, for a net gain of 50,447 acres. [104]

Once the plan was issued, Park Service officials felt that the plan was final, and needed only to await an appropriate time in which the President could send its recommendations to Congress. A reviewer in the Secretary of the Interior's office, however, found several technical difficulties in the Final Environmental Statement (FES) on the wilderness plan. [105] The procedural errors were sufficiently egregious that he urged the FES to be renamed a revised draft. The NPS, therefore, spent the next several months revising the earlier report. The regional office issued a revised draft environmental statement on February 12, 1973. That document continued to propose 2,603,547 acres in the monument as wilderness. [106]

Reviewers were given another three months in which to respond, and many of the same organizations which had commented before submitted another round of comments. The result of the organizational input may have had some bearing on the verbiage that was to appear in the Final Environmental Statement, but the NPS continued to recommend the same wilderness acreage that it had in July 1972. [107] The revised DES was then sent on to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), to be submitted to the President.

The CEQ worked on the Final Environmental Statement early in 1974. The Council had originally hoped that it would be able to include Katmai in a mid-April presidential wilderness announcement. Katmai's FES was slow in coming, however, and as a result, the president's wilderness message was delayed for two months. [108]

On June 13, 1974, President Richard Nixon proposed wilderness for fifteen public land areas to Congress. Among them was a recommendation that 2,603,547 acres be so designated in Katmai National Monument. Also forwarded to Congress that day were wilderness proposals for two Alaska national wildlife refuges, Semidi and Aleutian Islands; within the two refuges, 1,229,000 acres were proposed for wilderness. [109]

The Department of the Interior Considers an Expanded Park

As noted above, Congress (as part of ANCSA) gave the National Park Service and other land management agencies the task of studying Alaska lands for their potential value as parklands, refuges, national forests, and similar reservations. As part of that effort, officials in NPS's Washington office began to rough out the boundaries for an expanded Katmai National Monument in early 1972. By September of that year, in response to a series of Congressional deadlines, they had sketched out a proposed 1.4 million acre expansion to the monument. Beginning that month, NPS officials decided that Katmai would be recommended as a national park. In 1972 and 1973, the Alaska Task Force--at first an ad hoc group directed by the Washington office, later as one part of an Interior-wide Alaska Planning Group--investigated the applicability of various lands surrounding the monument as potential NPS additions.

The public had several opportunities to comment on the advisability of establishing an expanded Katmai National Park. Its first was in May and June 1973. The Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission, which had been created by ANCSA, held over thirty hearings in Alaskan communities (and four others in Lower 48 cities) on proposals being considered for a broad array of national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests and similar reservations. Hearing locations where testimony was presented that related directly to Katmai included Naknek, Kodiak, Dillingham, Iliamna, and Anchorage, as well as Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, and Washington, D.C. [110]

The testimony from the hearings was combined with the information gathered by Alaska Task Force and Alaska Planning Group members to create a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed park. This document, issued in December 1973 in conformance with the guidelines set by ANCSA, called for the establishment of a 4,600,000-acre Katmai National Park, one that was to be 1,870,000 acres larger than the existing monument (see Map 7). The proposed park boundaries included all but the mouth of the Strike Creek and Kamishak River drainages, all of the American Creek drainage, all but the mouth of the King Salmon Creek drainage, and most of the King Salmon River and Kejulik River drainages. The boundary extended the southern boundary along Shelikof Strait south to Puale Bay, and followed the entire northern shore of Becharof Lake. Kulik Lake was to be included in the proposal, but not Nonvianuk Lake or Battle Lake. [111]

proposed Katmai NP draft EIS map
Map 7. When the NPS released its draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Katmai National Park in December 1973, the proposed park boundaries (heavy black line) encompassed 4,600,000 acres-far larger area than the size of the existing national monument (heavy dashed line). The agency also proposed three areas of environmental concern (light dashed line): tow north of the proposed park boundaries and another west of the park. Source: Alaska Planning Group, Proposed Katmai National Park, Alaska, Draft Environmental Impact Statement, 3. (click image for an enlargement in a new window)

In addition, the NPS recommended that three so-called areas of ecological concern (AECs) be established: a 560,000-acre tract west of the proposed park, a 740,000-acre tract to the north, and a 40,000-acre tract southeast of the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. These areas would serve as buffers to the park, and would be "managed so as to complement the purposes of the park." [112]

The public was originally given until March 20, 1974 (later extended to July 22) to comment on the DEIS. The Alaska Planning Group received 218 letters, 162 of them from individuals, the remainder from governmental agencies and private organizations. [113] Because the JFSLUPC had held such a wide range of hearings just a year before, no additional hearings were held on the DEIS. A Senate subcommittee, however, had a hearing in Anchorage, as part of a series of mark up hearings, in which the Katmai extension was discussed. [114]

The Final Environmental Statement for the proposed Katmai National Park was issued in January 1975. [115] It called for a slightly smaller park than that proposed in the December 1973 draft (see Map 8). The FES proposal recommended that Congress establish a 4,453,000-acre park: the 2,399,000 acres in the lands and waters of the existing park, and an additional 2,054,000 acres of lands and waters adjacent to it. Three-fourths of the new acreage was to come from d-2 lands, and another 22 percent was selected from d-1 lands. The remaining acreage came from Native and state lands.

proposed Katmai NP final EIS map
Map 8. By the time the NPS released its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed park in January 1975, the proposed boundaries had been slightly modified from those recommended in December 1973 (see Map 7). The proposed acreage (4,453,000 acres) was slightly smaller than had previously been proposed. The suggested primary development sites, however, had changed little since the monument's draft master p lan had been released in August 1971 (see Map 6). Source: Alaska Planning Group, Final Environmental Impact Statement, Proposed Katmai National Park, Alaska, 5. (click image for an enlargement in a new window)

The proposed park announced in the FES was 207,000 acres smaller than that outlined in the draft EIS. In reality, the acreage difference between the two documents was much less, because the acreage given in the draft EIS had not accounted for the last-minute reduction of acreage surrounding Battle Lake. The northern boundary west of Kulik Lake was several miles farther south in January 1975 than it had been in December 1973; it attempted, to a greater degree, to follow natural drainage divides rather than township boundaries. Otherwise, the two boundaries were virtually identical. The FES, like the draft EIS, had three areas of ecological concern. Because the proposed park was smaller than before, the three AECs included the acreage that had been in the draft EIS; otherwise, the AECs were unchanged. [116]

Once the Final Environmental Statement had been completed, it was forwarded to President Ford's Council on Environmental Quality, then on to Congress. The Interior Department, after three years of concentrated effort, had made its final recommendations as to how the Katmai area should be managed. It was up to Congress to see what kind of park unit would be created. Congress, bound by the dictates of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, was obligated to act by December 1978. Although the park service and other Interior bureaus would continue to provide assistance and consultation, it was Congress's responsibility to accept or modify the advice and recommendations which the NPS had provided.

Planners Weigh the Future of Katmai

The issuance of the Katmai FES, along with ten similar documents for other proposed Alaska park areas, was the last official act which the NPS was required to do as a result of ANCSA provisions. NPS planners, however, continued to be active. For the next several years, the agency carried on an intensive effort that would provide a more solid data base for Congressional leaders to use. These same activities would create an expertise that would be important for management of the areas when they were established, and assist the Interior Department in implementation of interrelated aspects on ANCSA. [117]

The NPS was ready to play an advisory role as soon as Congress began submitting Alaska lands bills. Several relevant bills were, in fact, submitted in 1974 and 1975. But neither the Nixon nor the Ford administrations showed any inclination to work for passage of a consensus bill. Legislative action, therefore, was delayed until 1977, when Jimmy Carter was president. [118]

Between 1975 and 1977, the NPS had no lack of issues to confront as they geared up for the Congressional activity that was sure to come. The ad hoc task forces which had helped create the various master plans and environmental statements had been disbanded upon publication of the various FESs in late 1974 and 1975. In order to provide a continuing degree of expertise, therefore, Director Gary Everhardt appointed ten planning professionals from the Denver Service Center (DSC) to act as so-called "keymen." Ralph Root, a DSC biologist, was chosen as the keyman for Katmai and Aniakchak in May 1975; by the end of June, he was on the way to Anchorage, where he would serve for most of the next two years.

One of the problems which Root and other agency personnel had to confront was hunting in the areas proposed for additions to Katmai. One and all knew that the upper Alaska peninsula was a world famous brown bear habitat, and as Alaska had become better known and more accessible, the areas surrounding Katmai attracted a steadily increasing number of hunters. A 1974 study noted that 42 bears--15.3% of the 1972 brown bear harvest taken via Alaska Peninsula commercial guides--came from the area proposed for inclusion into the park. The proposed park, to a lesser degree, would also impact on the commercial-guide harvest of caribou and moose. [119]

Professional guides, and others in the hunting industry, knew that the creation of an expanded national park, with no provisions for hunting, would be disastrous. It would set a poor precedent for the industry at large; more specifically, it would endanger the livelihood of several area guides. Ben White, for example, had been operating out of Battle Lake camp since 1971 if not before. M. Edward King, an area guide since the mid-1960s, hunted in the wide area extending from the monument boundary north to Nonvianuk and Kulik lakes. Ray Loesche, a guide who had been active since the mid-1950s, operated in areas both south and north of the existing monument. Many other guides used the proposed park areas less frequently; an informal compilation showed that a total of twelve had been operating in the proposed Katmai additions in recent years, mostly for either trophy moose or brown bear. [120]

In order to fight the anti-hunting tide suggested in the NPS and Interior Department proposals, the Alaska Professional Hunters Association (APHA) prepared its own proposals on how to deal with the Alaska lands issue. In the Katmai area, it suggested that a 750,000-acre area southwest of the existing monument, proposed as a part of Katmai National Park in the NPS and Interior Department proposals, should be designated as the Katmai National Wildlife Refuge. North of the existing monument, APHA recommended that the boundary be adjusted to exclude all drainages flowing into Battle Lake, noting that "these drainages serve no useful purpose for the Katmai Monument." The organization also suggested that "If Battle Lake is included, APHA recommends that recreational hunting be allowed in the whole addition." [121]

NPS planners listened to much of what the APHA proposed. As noted above, they excluded the Battle Lake area in the draft and final environmental statements, and also excluded the lowland country north of Nonvianuk Lake. They refused, however, to include the lowland tundra area between the monument boundary and Becharof Lake. All of the land proposed for inclusion in Katmai National Park, moreover, was to be closed to sport hunters. The NPS policy, as enunciated by Area Director Bryan Harry in a speech to the APHA, was that "Proposed new parks where hunting closure is recommended include those where sport hunting is now of minor importance or would interfere severely with subsistence activities." The NPS had apparently concluded that, through judicious boundary selection, it had eliminated the most important hunting areas in the proposed park. [122]

Despite the agency's rigid anti-hunting recommendation, some NPS personnel recognized the legitimacy of having some hunting areas within the proposed park units. As far back as September 1972, the agency had been forced to acknowledge, as part of the settlement of a suit with the State of Alaska, that certain proposed park areas would have to be open to sport hunting, and by December 1973, Secretary Morton's recommendations included provisions for hunting in six of the proposed new park units. [123] Dealing with hunting created a rift within the agency. Some insisted on having "pure" park areas, even if it meant lopping off areas which allowed sport hunting; others felt that national parks, given special regulations, should allow sport hunting; and still others thought that a new name was needed for NPS units that allowed hunting. [124]

Ted Swem, who headed the agency's Alaska planning effort, wrote a colleague as early as December 1974 that many of the proposed parks could support hunting and non-hunting zones because 1) parks were large enough to allow zones and still have no conflict, 2) the proposed parks contained some of the state's prime hunting country, and 3) hunting, he recognized was one of Alaska's major livelihoods. [125] In 1976, a wide range of Washington officials became convinced that the "preserve" category (an area where hunting was permitted) might be needed as a fallback measure during legislative negotiations. [126] The agency, however, remained outwardly steadfast in its opposition to hunting, specifically as it related to Katmai.

Another problem area concerned the necessity of establishing power generation sites in the areas proposed as the expanded Katmai National Park. During the early 1960s, as noted above, the Bureau of Reclamation had identified two potential hydroelectric sites in its survey of southwestern Alaska: American Creek, thought to have a prime capacity of 14,300 kilowatts, and a Nonvianuk Lake site, which might generate 27,300 kilowatts. In January 1968, the Alaska Power Administration identified a potential dam site on the Alagnak River near the confluence of the Nonvianuk River. None of these sites, at least initially, was considered as particularly significant for hydroelectric development. [127]

After ANCSA was passed, the search for d-1 and d-2 lands brought about a renewed interest in potential dam construction. A study made of d-2 areas 24 and 25 (that is, the areas immediately north and immediately south of the existing monument) revealed that neither area contained particularly favorable hydroelectric sites. North of area 24, however, the Federal Power Commission, in its 1975 survey, had identified Kukaklek Lake as a hydropower site. The Kukaklek project, which at that time was being considered as part of the proposed Iliamna National Resources Range, was considered one of eleven "active potential sites" in the state that would be eliminated if the various park proposals were enacted. [128] In addition, the Alaska Power Administration considered a Kulik Lake hydroelectric site and noted that "it presently is considered unfavorable for development." [129] Congress would have many Alaska lands issues with which to wrestle in the upcoming months, but conflicts over power development in the Katmai area would not be one of them.

Closely tied to questions of power development were those of the eligibility of certain streams to nomination in the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers System. In 1968, Congress had passed the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and had designated the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR), in the Interior Department, to conduct the inventory and evaluation process for rivers throughout the country.

When the BOR made its initial Alaska survey, it tabbed two streams in the Katmai area--American Creek and the Alagnak River--as having Wild and Scenic River potential. All or a portion of both streams were situated in the area being considered as expansions to the existing monument. The entire length of the American Creek was considered; for the Alagnak River, the whole 64-mile length of the main stem was considered, along with the 11-mile Nonvianuk River which originated in Nonvianuk Lake. [130]

To gain additional data on the rivers, and to investigate their eligibility as laid out in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the BOR made an aerial reconnaissance of the area on October 31, 1972. [131] The following spring, an interagency field team conducted on-site inspections of both water courses. Based on the data it had gathered, the BOR concluded that American Creek and the Alagnak River met the criteria for inclusion in the Wild and Scenic River System. Both flowed through sufficiently primitive environments that they qualified as "wild" rivers within that system. [132]

During the period after the issuance of the Final Environmental Statement, the keyman for Katmai recognized that many area water courses other than Alagnak River and American Creek also had the potential for nomination to the Wild and Scenic Rivers system. Ralph Root recognized that wild river designation for American Creek (or any other streams included within a national park unit) was largely superfluous. In January 1976, however, he recognized that several area streams--Kamishak River, King Salmon Creek, and Kejulik River--were not included in some of the proposals being put forward. Worried about the rivers' protection, Root proposed wild rivers studies for each of the three rivers. No action, however, was taken on his proposal. [133]

The period following the issuance of the park's Final Environmental Statement also gave NPS officials sufficient time to consider the legitimacy of various development sites which had been espoused during the master plan process. Although the plan had called for the establishment of the major use-node at the west end of the park, the site had remained amorphous, in one of three general locations. NPS officials, who were still convinced that boat transportation would be the best means of transporting visitors from the King Salmon area into the park, were most interested in the North Arm and Naknek Peninsula areas as potential lodge sites. In August 1976, NPS officials inspected the Naknek Lake shore and discovered that the water on either side of the North Arm was quite shallow and unprotected from strong winds which blew from the southeast. But at the base of Naknek Peninsula, the water on both sides was deep and calm. The officials gave little thought toward a development at a proposed North Arm site. Even though the site had been moved west from the Bay of Islands area, the monument superintendent expressed "concern and doubt" that a lodge should be built there. [134]

Park officials also made further investigations of the proposed development site at Research Bay. The site, according to the December 1973 master plan, had been "tentatively selected as a possible use-node" which "could become the new gateway to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes." [135] Further study, however, found Research Bay to be a poor location for future development. Rollie Ostermick, who served on the Alaska Task Force, told Root that both red salmon and brown bears were plentiful in the area in August. He wrote that "There is a much greater density of bears in the Research Bay-Margot Creek area than at Brooks during the summer visitor season." He further warned that the bay was a poor location for both boats and amphibious aircraft because of the shallow waters. Ostermick, after investigating the surrounding area, suggested that a better development site lay on the moraine between Iliuk Arm and the rest of Naknek Lake. [136] A year later, other officials who visited Research Bay also concluded that the site was unacceptable. Their alternative, however, was a location along the valley road about five miles east of Brooks Camp. A lodge at the new site, they reasoned, would provide visitor accommodations, a shorter trip to the Valley, and a staging area for backcountry users while avoiding the bear-human conflicts of the Research Bay site. [137]

NPS officials based Katmai's development plans, to a large degree, on the implementation of tour boats on Naknek Lake. The superintendent, for instance, predicted that tour boats would replace aircraft within a few years, and a planning team concluded that "boat transportation would be the best future means of transporting visitors from the King Salmon area into the park." [138] Neither the draft nor final master plans, however, addressed who was to supply the necessary craft. The level of visitation, at least in the short term, made the resolution of such a dilemma moot. Even if market forces had been more favorable, however, the logistics and expense of setting up a marine operation militated against its implementation. The creation of a deep-water dock on the north edge of Naknek Lake would be of some benefit, but other physical factors stood in the way of such a service. [139] As one observer noted of the trip between Lake Camp and Brooks Camp,

During times of low water only boats with a very shallow draft can complete this trip. Transporting people in this manner would require large boats and this does not appear to be feasible without dredging and consequently disrupting very important fisheries resources. It is considered that the cost of purchasing, operating and maintaining such boats would also be prohibitive. [140]

Rough water during windy weather was also an obstacle. But despite the many barriers, Wien Air Alaska investigated the economic practicality of such a service during the summer of 1976. The concessioner had been relying on a Grumman Mallard to access Brooks Camp for the past several years, but had recently found the plane so uneconomical, and so unequal to the task of transporting an ever-increasing number of tourists, that it cast about for an alternative. [141] Its consideration of marine craft, however, was brief. The airline substituted other aircraft for the Mallard, and the idea of instituting boat service on Naknek Lake was dropped for the time being. [142] The idea was not revived until the 1990s, when the NPS began lake operations in order to improve park management capabilities.

Planners estimated that the addition of the areas suggested in the 1975 Final Environmental Statement would add significantly to Katmai's budget. They proposed that the monument's budget, which was in the $200,000 to $300,000 range during the 1975-1980 period, be more than doubled for each of the first five years after passage of a park bill. Funding for the five-year program was slated to run anywhere from $300,000 to over $700,000 per year. The additional funds would pay for the equivalent of three to five new full-time staff, and would also allow for the erection of six new units for permanent employees, four seasonal panabode units, and a new King Salmon office. In addition, ranger quarters and adjacent campground facilities would be needed at Kulik Lake, Murray Lake, Blue Mountain, Alinchak Bay, Kamishak River, and Kejulik River. [143]

Issues in Monument Administration, 1975-1980

While planners in Anchorage and Washington were busy planning the future of a proposed Katmai National Park, the administrators of the existing national monument were busy with a host of problems of their own. Most of those issues dealt with the continuing problem of access: ways to improve transportation within the monument, and questions of legal access to areas nominated for wilderness consideration.

One of the most contentious issues which Katmai officials faced during this period related to Lake Grosvenor access, and the battle over access erupted into a major confrontation between the NPS and the concessioner during the fall of 1976. Lake Grosvenor was one of many that were considered for closure during the wilderness nomination process. The draft plan, issued in August 1971, had left it open, but a revised draft issued the following July concluded that all but the lake's western end would be recommended for wilderness consideration. The NPS did so for two reasons: it wanted to protect the wilderness qualities of the Savonoski Loop canoe route, and wanted to keep open the flight path used by the concessioner using Grosvenor Camp. That path headed west down Lake Coville to American Creek. As a result, the plan kept Lake Coville, as well as the western end of Lake Grosvenor, out of the proposed wilderness. [144]

Once the revised wilderness plan was approved in 1972, administrative provisions in the 1964 Wilderness Act allowed Superintendent Blinn to apply de facto wilderness management to the area, even though Congress had not acted on the agency's recommendation. Blinn explained the new policy to representatives of Wien Consolidated Airlines (WCA), the Grosvenor Camp concessioner, and for the next several years WCA and Wien Air Alaska (WCA's name after May 1973) complied with the limitations on motorboat use demanded by the wilderness regulations. [145]

The situation heated up in July 1976 when Wien's Grosvenor Camp manager, Van Hartley, brought a jetboat into the monument. At first, he complied with the regulations, and he obtained Blinn's permission before piloting the boat up Savonoski and Grosvenor rivers on his way to Grosvenor Camp. But on August 21, Hartley illegally took a party of fishermen on the jetboat to the east end of Grosvenor Lake. Hartley failed to slow down sufficiently in the shallows and went aground. Blinn, along with his son and freelance writer-photographer Dave Bohn, were canoeing nearby. They witnessed the accident, which resulted in minor injuries to two of Hartley's fishing clients, and they helped extricate the grounded craft. Blinn, in a private conversation with Hartley, reminded him that operating the jetboat at the east end of the lake was in violation of NPS policy; he did not, however, make his feelings public, and did he not cite him or otherwise penalize him.

Several days after the incident, Blinn (who by now had returned to Brooks Camp) heard rumors that he had treated Hartley unfairly. He responded by visiting Grosvenor Camp and talking to Hartley about the recent incident. Hartley felt that the NPS's policies were unfair, but he understood them. But Chuck Petersen, the head of Wien's concessions operation, claimed he was unaware of the wilderness management policy until he met with Blinn (to cover a broad range of concessions issues) on September 1. He immediately protested the action, both at the meeting and in a September 3 letter to the superintendent. In his defense, he claimed that concessioners had been operating motorboats on Lake Grosvenor since the 1950s. He also claimed that Blinn was being arbitrary and evasive and that he was enforcing the rules as part of "personal vendetta" against him. Blinn, as a park superintendent, was in no position to lift the motorboat restriction (even if he had wished to do so), so on October 7, he replied with a letter which merely reiterated and explained the regulation. [146]

Petersen, however, would not give up. He sought, and obtained, a meeting with Pacific Northwest Region Director Russell Dickenson on November 30. Dickenson, like Blinn, told the Wien representative that he could not change Servicewide wilderness management rules; he could only suggest that Petersen write NPS Director Gary Everhardt and ask for a waiver of the 1972 regulation which closed Lake Grosvenor to motorboat traffic. Petersen did as suggested and wrote a vociferous, lengthy protest letter to the NPS Director. He also appealed his case to Alaska's Congressional delegation. He then notified several of Grosvenor Camp's longtime guests of the decision, and asked them to lobby the NPS Director in order to overrule the 1972 administrative regulation. [147] The lobbying effort worked. On January 7, 1977, Director Everhardt notified Petersen that the agency would allow the use of motorized boat service on Lake Grosvenor, pending action by Congress on wilderness recommendations. [148] The concessioner, emboldened by its victory, considered the orchestration of a campaign that would delete Lake Grosvenor and Grosvenor River from the wilderness proposal. But Petersen soon realized that such an action would be largely unnecessary; with the exception Wien had been granted, the company was able to use Lake Grosvenor essentially as it wished. [149]

The imposition of wilderness management on Katmai's land and waters brought complaints from other disgruntled users. One of those was Edwin W. Seiler, who was the owner of a nearby fishing lodge, a pilot, and a pioneer businessman in nearby King Salmon. In May 1977, Seiler wrote Governor Jay Hammond and NPS Director Gary Everhardt about the newly-imposed float plane landing restrictions, opining that "This is something I believe Gil Blinn cooked up with prodding from some overzealous environmentalists." Seiler hoped that the NPS might relax the regulation "by issuing revocable licenses to responsible guides and Air-Taxi operators." [150] NPS Director William Whalen, who responded to Seiler in August, didn't directly answer his complaint; he took some pains, however, to put the problem in perspective. He defended Blinn and the wilderness process, noting that "the closure of all waters other than Naknek Lake and the Naknek River to aircraft and motorboats was based upon a concept of using the Naknek Lake system for primary access, with the principal developments being located in this zone and within the coastal zone. A wild lands type of management was to be applied to the remaining portions of the national monument." But he also recognized that "most wilderness areas in Alaska should have some degree of access by float plane.... It appears that the temporary impact of aircraft landings on some wilderness waters should be acceptable." He admitted that the issuance of permits had merit, but that the agency had not yet reached a decision on how to proceed. [151]

Still another access issue that the NPS had to contend with was the problem of crossing Brooks River in the vicinity of Brooks Camp. During the mid-1970s, an NPS contractor had built an improved dock in an embayment on the north bank near the river's mouth. The company had done so as part of the utility system installation. A bridge had been considered during one phase of utility contract planning, but it was eliminated from the final contract.

No sooner had the new dock been installed than nature began to unravel the improvements. In 1975 and 1976, erosion from the river's current began to narrow the small spit between the boat dock and Naknek Lake. The following summer, high runoff caused the area surrounding the concession buildings to flood; water levels reached almost eighteen inches above the level of the new dock. The area's beach was lost, and on the south side of Brooks River the bank protecting the boat dock was eroded away. On the north side of the river, continuing erosion threatened to undercut and destroy the new dock. To ward off further damage, sandbags were placed underneath the dock, but officials recognized that they served only as a holding action. [152]

The damage the river caused forced the Park Service to take a new look at its docks. In 1978, maintenance personnel attempted to repair the dock on the south bank, but finding it unfeasible to do so, they decided to dismantle it instead. On the north bank, they dredged out the boat moorage area and tried to restore the dock to a pre-1977 appearance. [153] In 1980, another year of heavy rains brought trouble. Early runoff once again gouged under the north end of the 1975 dock. It soon broke through, effectively turning the area surrounding the eastern side of the dock into an island. All attempts to return Brooks River to its former course proved futile, and in late May the east side of the dock was manually removed. As the summer wore on, currents reshaped the shoreline to the point that the west side of the old dock parallelled the Naknek Lake shoreline and the north side protruded out into the lake. The northern portion of the dock was buttressed with scrap lumber from sections of former dock material, and began to serve as a fish viewing platform. [154]

The elimination of the two docks, of course, complicated access across Brooks River. Until 1977, crossing the river had been fairly easy because of a reliance on motorized skiffs. The deterioration of the docks, however, made dockings more tenuous as new landing sites were sought. In addition, the noise and fumes of the motorboats--noted by at least one Brooks Camp visitor--and a national policy of greater energy conservation encouraged NPS personnel to pursue alternate methods by which visitors could cross the river. [155] Improved access, however, did not become a reality until the early 1980s.

Superintendent Blinn had dealt with these and many other issues during his tenure at the monument. In June 1979, however, he left the park to become the superintendent of Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Blinn, the monument's first superintendent, had served in his position for almost ten years. His immediate replacement was Roy Sanborn, formerly a Management Assistant in the Alaska Area Office, who served in an interim capacity for the next two months. Blinn's permanent replacement was David Morris, who stepped into the job from the Washington-based departmental manager program. Morris had worked in Alaska prior to beginning his NPS career, and served as the Katmai superintendent for the next eight years. [156]

The Proclamation of an Expanded Monument

The election of Jimmy Carter as president, along with the recognition that ANCSA required an Alaska lands bill to pass Congress by December 1978, spurred Congress into activity. Carter was widely considered as an environmentalist, and Rep. Morris Udall of Arizona, an avowed environmentalist, headed the House Interior Committee, which was to be a prime mover of the bill in Congress.

Although the primary existing package of parklands proposals was the one which Interior Secretary Morton had signed in December 1973, one of the first bills of the 95th Congress was submitted by Udall and other environmentally-leaning Congressmen. On January 4, 1977, Rep. Udall submitted H.R. 39; similar bills were entered somewhat later by senators Lee Metcalf (D-MT), Henry Jackson (D-WA), and Clifford Hansen (R-WY). H.R. 39, the initial legislative vehicle by which Alaska lands would be considered, called for the setting aside of up to 115,000,000 acres in the four national systems, 64,100,000 acres of which would go to the national park system. Virtually all of the NPS acreage was proposed as "instant wilderness;" lands included in that category would be designated as wilderness without the usual review process. [157]

Among its provisions, Udall's bill proposed the creation of a 5.1 million-acre Katmai National Park--a full 2.6 million acres larger than the existing monument. It included all of the area in the present park and preserve. It also included a large triangle of land northwest of the present boundaries, which included the Alagnak River and surrounding lowlands; a large area to the southwest, which included territory north and south of the King Salmon River; and an area south of the monument which extended all the way south to Portage Bay. [158]

Some Alaskans were outraged by Udall's bill, and interests in the Naknek and King Salmon areas reacted angrily to the proposed Katmai expansion. John Wood, a King Salmon fishing guide, circulated a petition protesting the bill because of its "disastrous effects on existing recreational and subsistence uses of the local fish and wildlife resources." He collected 329 signatures in just four days. He complained to Governor Hammond that "the proposed extension has no significant value to warrant inclusion into the Monument as specified by National Park Service policy." Perhaps as a result of Wood's activism, both the South Naknek Village Council and Bristol Bay Borough quickly passed resolutions not to increase the size of the monument. [159]

Congress did little for the next several months that promised a resolution to the Alaska lands question. Meanwhile, scattered attempts were made to legislate a Katmai wilderness bill. On January 11, Rep. Keith Sebelius (R-KS) submitted 27 wilderness bills, each of which was compatible with the recommendations which the NPS had made to Congress in 1974. The only bill which dealt with an Alaskan NPS unit was H.R. 1720, which pertained to Katmai. [160] In the Senate, Henry Jackson and Clifford P. Hansen submitted S. 315, which was a broad-based wilderness bill for various areas in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. [161] Neither the House nor Senate bills got past the committee stage, perhaps because the committee chairmen involved wanted to deal with Alaska's land uses in one large bill rather than a series of smaller ones.

By the spring of 1977, others were making their voices known. In April, Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus testified to Congress on H.R. 39; having not had time to analyze the bill, he could only reaffirm the Carter administration's support for a strong Alaska lands bill. Two months later, Sen. Ted Stevens introduced S. 1787, an Alaska-based "consensus bill" which proposed to set aside 75,000,000 acres in the various management systems. The bill, far less restrictive than the Udall bill, proposed to add just 400,000 acres to Katmai National Monument--just enough to provide watershed protection to existing monument lands. It proposed another 1,590,000 acres as "federal cooperative lands" which would be located within the monument but would be open to all uses, save disposal, authorized by the public land laws. [162]

Meanwhile, in preparation for the time in which Andrus would make formal testimony, Director Whalen began a review of its proposals in light of what had been presented in H.R. 39. [163] Selected keymen were brought to Washington. They met with Roger Contor, the bureau's Alaska lands specialist, to produce boundaries that accurately reflected up-to-date knowledge.

The results of the recent NPS investigations had significant ramifications for the Katmai park proposal. In both the January 1975 Final Environmental Statement and in H.R. 39, a major area suggested for new acreage was the lowland tundra addition located southwest of the existing monument. Most of this area was not in the same watershed as existing monument waters, and the flat, featureless character of the proposed addition seemed, to some at least, as separate from the mountain, lake or coastal country which typified most of the monument.

By December 1975, residents of Naknek and King Salmon were calling the legitimacy of the southwestern addition into question. [164] In response, Dr. John Dennis--biologist, member of the 1972-73 Alaska Task Force, and chief proponent of the addition--recognized that the proposal was controversial. He further recognized that the huge parcel offered substantial subsistence moose and caribou hunting for local residents, and that some gravel extraction was taking place there.

Dennis argued, however, that the lowland tundra was more valuable as parkland. He noted that

It is unique because it is situated on a glacial outwash. Sand dunes, which are somewhat unexpectedly found north of the west end of Becharof Lake provide a xeric environment where plant species uncommon to the Alaska Peninsula are found. Another significant feature of the lowland tundra is that together with the existing monument it provides a nearly complete cross-section of botanical life zones across the northern Alaska Peninsula. The lowland tundra area also provides winter habitat for a moose population ... an important waterfowl nesting and molting area, especially for whistling swans [and] habitat for a wide-ranging herd of caribou. Management of this region as a natural area would assure the protection of the values discussed above, and may provide some sanctuary for the caribou, should their wide-ranging habitat on this part of the peninsula be changed by new and intensive land uses. [165]

Local residents, however, did not share the need for protecting that area. When John Wood circulated the local petition against the extensions in January 1977, he did so on behalf of the residents of Game Management Unit 9. His primary complaint with H.R. 39 was that "The proposed ... extension would encompass two of the three dependable areas available for [local recreational and subsistence] uses, i.e., all of Big Creek and the upper portion of King Salmon Creek. The NPS's arguments ... are unjustifiable when weighed against the detrimental effects ... on the lifestyle of the local residents." [166]

Gil Blinn, a recipient of the petition, had also been a recipient of numerous resolutions which Bristol Bay Borough had passed against the monument expansion. Despite its negative tone, he was pleased that Wood had identified specific areas of concern to local residents. He passed Wood's petition on up through the hierarchy. In mid-February no less than the Acting NPS Director, William Briggle, wrote Wood and asked for "Any additional information ... concerning the specific types of uses that take place on the lands in question and where and when these uses take place." Hoping to gain more specific input from the local authorities, Blinn and Alaska's Area Director, Bryan Harry, visited the borough offices and asked for specific comments rather than monolithically opposing NPS's expansion plans. [167] The borough responded in mid-May with a resolution which proposed that King Salmon Creek, Big Creek, and all other areas to the south and west be dropped from the proposals because they were traditional hunting, fishing, and trapping lands for the communities of South Naknek, Naknek, and King Salmon. They promised that if the park service would do that, they would not oppose the other additions. [168]

By the time NPS Director Whalen gave his proposed park recommendations to Secretary Andrus in mid-August 1977, the Katmai proposal had overcome local opposition. It was also, however, substantially smaller than H.R. 39 had proposed because the lowland tundra addition had been eliminated. Whalen urged Andrus to propose a Katmai National Park with 1,800,000 acres added to the existing monument. Because of the compromise made with local officials, Whalen proposed that subsistence as well as commercial hunting of brown bear be prohibited in the proposed park additions. The Fish and Wildlife Service, stepping into the void, recommended in its own report to Secretary Andrus that the southern additions to Katmai be added to the wildlife refuge system. On August 18, Assistant Secretary Robert L. Herbst accepted that recommendation. [169]

On September 15, Secretary Andrus released the long-awaited Interior Department proposal. Andrus called for the creation of ten new NPS areas and the extension of three existing areas. He proposed that a total of 41,770,000 acres be set aside. In regards to Katmai, he recommended that only 1,110,000 acres be added to a newly-designated Katmai National Park; the acreage was largely a reiteration of Secretary Morton's 1973 recommendations except for the elimination of the lowland tundra areas. The proposal also called for wilderness in those areas of Katmai previously recommended by the NPS, plus an additional 89,000 acres in the Headwaters Creek drainage west of Brooks Lake. It proposed the Alagnak River, but not American Creek, for Wild and Scenic River status. Unlike the proposal offered by the NPS, the Interior Department proposed that subsistence uses be allowed within the area outside the existing monument. Hunting, however, was prohibited. Andrus's bill was a compromise between Rep. Udall's far-reaching conservation bill and Sen. Stevens's lukewarm effort. [170]

In response to Andrus's recommendation, and also in response to a series of hearings the Interior Committee held during the spring and summer, H.R. 39 was revised in October 1977. Still a solidly conservation-backed bill, it remained the primary mark-up vehicle for the next several months. In March 1978, however, committee leaders had to defeat a rival proposal which would have advocated less restrictive uses for Alaska's d-2 lands. Perhaps in response, the committee again revised H.R. 39 to include a 210,000-acre national preserve adjacent to the proposed Katmai National Park. [171]

Preserves differed from parks in that they allowed sport hunting. Most also allowed motorized vehicle usage and mineral entry. [172] For the last several years, NPS officials had been debating how to handle hunting in the Alaska park proposals. As noted above, some resisted sport hunting within park borders, while others realized that if properly regulated, certain of the proposed park areas should permit the activity.

Through 1976, NPS officials had, to outsiders at least, remained steadfast in their opposition to hunting in the proposed Alaska park units. The internal dialogue continued, however, and by January 1977 the Service's designated Alaska specialist, Roger Contor, recommended that the agency "adopt the park-preserve combination, where needed, as the Service's position in Alaska." Allowing preserves gave the NPS control over more land than would have otherwise been possible; had park requirements remained rigid, areas which allowed hunting might be administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Adopting the preserve concept also prevented sport hunting advocates from opening up existing parks to hunting. [173] John Kauffmann, a longtime Alaska hand, agreed with Contor and suggested that preserves could permit such broad uses as hunting, mining, or motorized recreation if they did not interfere with or damage a park's basic scientific values.

Based on that philosophy, the NPS legitimized the preserve category in areas deemed necessary or appropriate. Preserve status was first employed on the Aniakchak and Lake Clark proposals. [174] By August 1977, Director Whalen recommended preserve status for six proposed units: three independent units, and three others in conjunction with proposed national parks. Thus, by the time the House Interior Committee recommended a national preserve for Katmai, the concept was already well established. The idea of a preserve had been used in the legislature, too; in January, Udall's H.R. 39 had proposed them for Noatak and Yukon Charley, and had also proposed a Chisana National Preserve adjacent to the proposed Wrangell-Kluane International Park. [175]

The modified H.R. 39, which proposed a 1,300,000-acre Katmai National Park and a 210,000-acre Katmai National Preserve, was brought before the full House on May 19, 1978 along with two rival Alaska lands bills. The rival bills were defeated by substantial margins, and H.R. 39 passed by a resounding vote of 279 to 31. [176]

With just seven months to go before the seven-year timetable set by ANCSA elapsed, momentum shifted to the Senate. The upper chamber, however, seemed in little hurry to deal with the issue. Not until October 5, just eight days before adjournment, did the Energy and Natural Resources Committee report its version of an Alaska Lands Bill to the full Senate. That bill, generally unfavorable to conservation interests, would have created a national park and expanded its acreage by 900,000 acres; it would also have created a 400,000-acre Katmai National Preserve. Due to a combination of delaying tactics and parliamentary confusion, however, the Senate--and the 95th Congress--adjourned in October without having passed an Alaska lands bill. [177]

Secretary Andrus reacted to the lack of Congressional activity by acting on his own. He had known for several months that Congress might leave the issue unresolved, and he was therefore prepared to provide President Carter with a series of options on how to resolve the issue. In mid-November, in order to protect the "integrity of Alaska lands" from state selection, he had withdrawn over 110,000,000 acres of land. On December 1, Carter used that land as a basis for declaring 56,000,000 acres of national monuments under the terms of the Antiquities Act. Included in that designation was a 1,370,000 acre extension to Katmai National Monument. The measure which created the enlarged park area was a stopgap, and those that promulgated the proclamation hoped that it would remain in force only until a more formal legislative vehicle could be approved. Nevertheless, after a seven year struggle, an enlarged NPS unit at Katmai was at last a reality. [178]

The land added to Katmai was approximately 140,000 acres smaller than the park-preserve combination which had been proposed in H.R. 39. Katmai's new boundaries differed from that proposed by secretaries Morton or Andrus in that they extended north beyond Kukaklek Lake; they included Nonvianuk Lake and most of the Nonvianuk River. In the Lake Camp area, the boundary was extended west for three or four miles. Few changes were made at the south end of the monument, but in the Brooks Lake area, the boundary was extended west to include the Headwaters Creek drainage.

Establishment of Katmai National Park and Preserve

When Congress reconvened in January 1979, high on its agenda was the passage of the Alaska lands bill it had failed to act on during the previous legislative term. To some extent, the activities of the new Congress were a repeat of the old. The House Interior Committee, once again, took the lead in guiding the legislation; once again, the conservation-minded committee leaders succeeded in fashioning a bill strong enough to be brought to a vote. The bill, introduced by Rep. Udall and again dubbed H.R. 39, moved swiftly through the committee. On May 16, the full house defeated a weaker substitute bill, 268 to 157, then passed H.R. 39 by a vote of 360 to 65.

Action then shifted over to the Senate. The Energy Committee, by that time, had passed a less restrictive bill than that passed by the House, but pressure was growing to accept a more conservation-oriented substitute on the Senate floor. Alaska's U.S. Senate delegation recognized, as they had in 1978, that delaying tactics might succeed in forging a more pro-development bill. They were able to delay consideration of the bill on the Senate floor until July 1980. Senator Henry Jackson, who had crafted the Energy Committee bill, watched helplessly as pro-development forces lost several lopsided votes on strengthening amendments. Jackson recognized that he was almost certain to lose if he brought an Alaska lands bill to the floor, so he was able to prevail on Majority Leader Robert Byrd to take the bill off the floor. Jackson, with the support of Senator Stevens, then set in motion a series of meetings between key senators; from those meetings came Amendment No. 1961, a substitute for the Senate Energy Committee bill. The amendment, probably the best Jackson felt he could craft considering the circumstances, was brought back to the Senate floor on August 18. The full Senate first voted, 72 to 16, to adopt the amendment as a substitute to the bill which had emerged from the Energy Committee. Shortly thereafter, it voted 78 to 14 to pass the bill itself. [179]

The Senate bill, in general, was less restrictive in its land use proposals than that passed by the House. Its proposals for the Katmai area followed the differences displayed in the bill at large. H.R. 39, as passed in May 1979, had called for a 1,160,000-acre park expansion and a 210,000-acre preserve, while the Senate's Amendment No. 1961 proposed a 1,037,000-acre park expansion and a 308,000-acre preserve. [180] Both bills called for NPS jurisdiction of a similar amount of land; the House bill proposed just 25,000 more acres of land in the combined park and preserve than that proposed in the Senate substitute. Both bills called for the designation of the Alagnak River (but not American Creek) as wild rivers. The House bill called for 3,630,000 acres of instant wilderness, while the Senate bill proposed 3,473,000 acres. The total amount of land reserved in the Senate bill was about 25,000 acres less than Secretary Andrus had designated in December 1978. [181]

The Senate's passage of the Alaska lands act was not intended to be the last word. Two months remained in the Congressional calendar to forge a compromise between the two competing bills. Senate leaders, however, displayed a "take it or leave it" attitude. With little room on which to compromise, Rep. Udall pinned hopes for an improved bill on a Senate-House conference that was scheduled to take place after the 1980 elections. That election, however, swept conservative Ronald Reagan into the White House; more important, it brought forth a Senate Republican majority. Given those developments, Udall had no choice but to capitulate. On November 12, he asked the House to approve the Senate-passed bill. It did so by voice vote, and on December 2, President Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) into law.

The administrative and legislative path which resulted in the Alaska lands act was long and tortuous, one enlivened by bombast on both sides and heated debate on both the general provisions of the bill and the land-use future of specific areas. It appears, however, that Katmai, for all its size, was one of the less rancorous areas in the debate. Gates of the Arctic, the Wrangell-St. Elias area, and the Mount McKinley expansion were high-profile battles between development and conservation interests. Katmai, for the most part, was not. Sport hunting created some debate in Katmai, as it did in other parks, and the threats of the removal of subsistence hunting rights frustrated local residents. Compromises, however, were found to both problems. Land use proposals, here as elsewhere, became more sophisticated as knowledge grew about the areas in question. The efforts that resulted in the draft and final environmental statements succeeded in their intended purpose, and by the time Congress began its debates, most differences of opinion had been smoothed out.

Katmai was now more than half again as large as it had been prior to 1978. Congress had added some 1,037,000 acres to the pre-1978 monument acreage and renamed it Katmai National Park; in addition, it created a 308,000-acre Katmai National Preserve north of the park. [182] (See Appendix A.) The Park Service hierarchy, now provided with a new mandate, readied itself for a new series of challenges. They would be not long in coming.


(left) Gilbert E. Blinn served as Katmai's first superintendent. He remained at the monument for almost ten years, from September 1969 through June 1979. In this photo, taken in August 1978, he is shown in Brooks Lake near the tail wing of a Cessna 185 Skywagon on floats. (right) Rogers C. B. Morton, who served as Interior Secretary under presidents Nixon and Ford, played a major role in the planning process that created or expanded Katmai, Aniakchak, and other Alaska NPS units. (Gil Blinn Collection (left); Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (right) )

Young, Gravel, Hammond, Ford

Research Bay
(top) Key players in the formation of the Alaska Lands Act included (l-r) Rep. Don Young, R-AK, Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK), and Alaska Governor Jay Hammond. The trio is shown with President Ford when the president visited Alaska on November 17, 1975. (bottom) This photo of Research Bay, with Mt. Katolinat in the background, was taken by Victor Cahalane in August 1954, during the Katmai Project. During the mid-1970s, the bay was the recommended site for Katmai's primary visitor node. Park staff, however, rejected the site when they learned that the area harbored a high concentration of brown bears. (courtesy Gerald R. Ford library, photo A7590-18 (top); NPS Photo Collection, neg. 12089 (bottom) )

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Last Updated: 24-Sep-2000