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NPS in Alaska Before 1972


Response to ANCSA, 1971-1973

current topic ANILCA

NPS in Alaska, 1973-1980





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

Chapter Four:
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act: A Legislative History
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A. Legislation Introduced, 1974-1977

In 1975 Assistant Interior Secretary Nathaniel P. Reed testified before the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs that passage of the Alaska Conservation Bill constituted "one of our highest environmental priorities and perhaps the most significant conservation measure since Theodore Roosevelt took the lead in establishing national forest reserves at the turn of the century." [1] In spite of any reservations regarding the Morton proposal, Park Service employees generally agreed and looked forward to a speedy passage of the bill. Their optimism proved unfounded. Neither the Nixon nor the Ford administrations showed any inclination to work for passage of the bill in 1974 or subsequent years. In the face of their disinterest, the Morton proposals languished.

Despite the administration's lack of fervor in pursuing congressional action, by late 1975 all elements necessary for a thorough discussion of the issues were present. Along with the administration's and the conservationists' bills, Alaska Representative Don Young and Senator Ted Stevens had introduced a predominantly multiple-use alternative—the "Alaska National Public Land Conservation Act," the state of Alaska released a proposal that was to be submitted as a bill at a later date, and the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission announced tentative recommendations regarding additions to the federal conservation systems. Representative John Dingell had introduced two bills that addressed wildlife refuges in Alaska, and NANA, a Native regional corporation, had released a proposal for a cooperatively managed (federal, state, NANA regional corporation, and village corporations)"Ecological Range" that would include considerable portions of the d-2 areas in the north (Gates of the Arctic and northwest Alaska). [2]

Senator Stevens and Representative Young, whose bill was similar in many respects to the recommendations of the state and JFSLUPC, proposed to set aside 66,800,000 acres in conservation areas. [3] Five national park units totaled 14,020,000 acres, national forest areas amounted to 28,000,000 acres, and 500,000 acres would be reserved for the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. [4] The bill designated eight transportation corridors to allow utilization of both known or potential mineral resources and provided for state regulation of sport hunting and control of subsistence.

The unique feature of the bill was a proposal to include the state in management of a major portion of d-2 lands through the creation of nine "Scenic Reserves" totalling 24,340,000 acres. These areas, which included Iliamna (2,850,000 acres), Noatak Valley (7,590,000 acres), Yukon Flats (2,210,000 acres), and Yukon Delta (2,540,000 acres) would be cooperatively managed by the state and federal governments. According to Representative Young, who was seconded by Alaska Governor Jay Hammond, this provision would more effectively meet the needs of local residents and provide greater management flexibility than was possible under any existing system. [5]

House and Senate committees held brief, largely informational, hearings in 1973 and 1975. In August 1975 members of the House Subcommittee on Parks and Recreation, John Seiberling and Goodloe Byron, visited Alaska to inspect the proposed areas. [6] Both came away with an appreciation for Alaska and a commitment to work for the preservation of nationally significant lands there, something that would have an important impact at a later date. Generally, however, Congress proved little more willing than the executive to take up the question of the disposition of Alaska's national interest lands. Not until 1977, when three of the five years mandated for congressional action on the national interest lands had passed, would Congress take up the question in earnest.

Chapter Four continues with...
Department of the Interior Activities, 1974-1977


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

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