ANILCA and Alaska Wilderness

fishing in Lake Clark
Fishing in the Chilikadrotna River in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.

NPS/Kevyn Jalone

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) made unprecedented allowances for access and activities not normally found in Lower 48 wilderness areas. Prior to the passage of ANILCA, people all over Alaska were involved in widely dispersed activities like backcountry recreation, cabin building, hunting, fishing, trapping, and small-scale mining—often in very remote and primitive settings. Their methods of transportation varied widely, from foot travel and dog sleds to snowmachines, motorboats, and airplanes.

To satisfy the demand for protection of the wildlands of Alaska, Congress realized that some special exceptions would be necessary to preserve traditional activities and accommodate transportation needs between remote communities. When finally passed in 1980, ANILCA reserved federal lands on an unprecedented scale while also including similarly unprecedented special provisions to address Alaska’s distinctive rural way of life and lack of infrastructure. ANILCA tried to make wilderness a good thing for everyone.

In Wilderness outside Alaska, the following are generally prohibited. In Alaska, ANILCA makes the following exceptions:
  • ANILCA 811 provides for subsistence use and access.
  • ANILCA 1110(a) allows use of snowmobiles, motorboats, airplanes, and nonmotorized surface transportation for traditional activities.
  • ANILCA 1315(d) allows public use cabins or shelters for the protection of public health and safety.
  • ANILCA 1316(a) allows temporary campsites, tent platforms, shelters, and other temporary facilities and equipment directly and necessarily related to the activities of taking fish and wildlife where such activities are allowed.
  • ANILCA 1313 allows sport hunting in Preserves in Wilderness

Last updated: January 23, 2018