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NPS in Alaska Before 1972


Response to ANCSA, 1971-1973


NPS in Alaska, 1973-1980





The National Park Service and the
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980: Administrative History

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The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA) was one of the most significant pieces of conservation legislation in this Nation's history. The nine-year struggle over the disposition of the public lands in Alaska is, moreover, a fascinating case study in the American democratic process, where differing views over the uses of those lands would be presented, argued, and, finally compromised. Not the least of the complex of forces involved in the process was the role of the Federal agencies. In the unfolding drama, these agencies had to respond to congressional mandates, the demands of the conservation community, and pro-development pressures. The purpose of this paper is to examine the history of the National Park Service in Alaska, and in the legislative process that resulted in ANILCA.

The study is not a general history of ANILCA. Rather, it is a one-sided one that examines the role of one agency whose primary mission is preservation. It is not, moreover, intended to be definitive history of the Park Service's role. It is the first step in an analysis of the Service's role in the process, and is part of the on-going effort to implement the ANILCA mandate.

I have enjoyed enormous support both from within and outside the National Park Service in preparing this history. It would be impossible to even begin to list here all the people who took time for interviews, loaned me material, answered questions, made helpful suggestions, and offered encouragement. Their names appear in footnotes and in the bibliography. This is not, by any means, sufficient recognition for their contributions, but I hope they know how much I appreciate their help. I do want to thank present and past Alaska Regional Directors Roger Contor and John Cook and their staffs for giving me the fullest possible support in my work. Bill Brown, particularly, helped formulate ideas and always took time from his busy schedule to listen to my tales of woe and offer encouragement and valuable insights. Ted Swem opened his personal files, helped to arrange interviews, and was always available to answer questions or to clear up some obscure point. His enthusiasm for and commitment to the Alaska parklands played no insignificant role in preparation of this history. John Luzader did yeoman work in assisting with the research. He waded through an almost frightening amount of material in the Denver Public Library and in Washington, D.C., and prepared invaluable summaries on litigation and minerals. Patricia Sachs relieved me of concerns in preparing most of the maps included. Harry Crandell, Chief of Staff, House of Representatives Subcommittee on Public Lands and National Parks, helped me through the intricacies of the legislative process. A weekend with Bill Reffalt and Christine Enright helped to broaden my perspective regarding the cooperation and objectives of the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service. Carl Kessler, Chief of the Law Branch, U.S. Department of the Interior Library, made available material that I would not have seen otherwise, and always proved willing to send me a document or answer a question. Linda Greene gave up a weekend to conduct research in the Alan Bible Papers. I have had several supervisors over the several years this project has lasted—Wil Logan, Betty Janes, and John Latschar. All gave me the fullest support, relieved me of all responsibilities save preparation of this history and, to varying degrees, made few comments regarding the condition of my office. Deciphering my handwriting, I must admit, is a difficult job at best. Joan Manson did an extraordinary job in doing that to type the manuscript, and she accepted my nearly innumerable changes with constant good humor.

This history is, in the truest sense, the joint effort of many people. If, however, despite the considerable support and help I received, the history fails to rise to the subject, the fault is mine alone.

I have come to respect the people involved in the long years of struggle over the disposition of Alaska's public lands. Whatever their position, people gave of themselves in a way that must be admired. In particular I wish to note National Park Service employees who were killed while on an inspection tour of the proposed Lake Clark National Park:

Keith Trexler

Rhonda Barber

Carol Byler

Janice Cooper

Dawn Finney

Jane Matlock

Mickect (Clara) Veara


Last Modified: Tues, Jan 9 2001 10:08 am PDT

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