History of Subsistence Management in Alaska

Caribou swimming across a river.
Pre–1867 For thousands of years, Alaska Natives harvest fish and wildlife resources.
1867–1959 Following the Alaska Purchase, the Federal government manages Alaska’s fish and wildlife resources.
1960 The Federal government transfers the authority to manage fish and wildlife in Alaska to the new State government.
1971 Congress passes the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act which conveys to Alaska Native Corporations title to more than 40 million acres of land and nearly $1 billion in compensation. The Conference Committee report expressed the expectation that the Secretary of the Interior and the State of Alaska would take the action necessary to protect the subsistence needs of Alaska Natives.
1978 State subsistence law creates a priority for subsistence over all other fish and wildlife uses but does not define subsistence users.
1980 Congress passes the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Title VIII of ANILCA protects and continues subsistence for rural Alaskans. The law provides for state management of Federal subsistence.
1982 The Alaska Board of Fisheries and Game adopts regulations creating a rural subsistence preference. The State program is in compliance with ANILCA.
1989 The Alaska Supreme Court rules that the rural residency preference, provided by the state under ANILCA, violates the Alaska Constitution.
1990 The Federal government begins managing subsistence hunting, trapping and fishing (limited to non- navigable waters) on Alaska’s Federal public lands.
1992 The Federal government adopts final subsistence management regulations for Federal public lands.
1993 Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils are established.
1995 The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Federal Subsistence Board should expand its management of subsistence fisheries to include all navigable waters in which the United States holds reserved water rights, such as waters on or next to wildlife refuges, national parks, and national forests. Congressional moratoriums prevent this ruling from taking effect until October 1, 1999.
1999 Federal subsistence management expands to include fisheries on all Federally managed public lands and waters, including navigable waters.
2009 The Secretary of the Interior announces a review of the Federal Subsistence Management Program to ensure that the program is best serving rural Alaskans and that the letter and spirit of Title VIII of ANILCA are being met.
2011 Based on the review recommendations, the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture issue a memorandum directing that the Federal Subsistence Board initiate several actions, including increasing the membership of the Federal Subsistence Board to include two public members representing rural subsistence users.
2012 Two public members are appointed to the Federal Subsistence Board by the Secretaries.
2012 The Federal Subsistence Board adopts its Tribal consultation policy. The policy provides the framework for the Board’s consultations with Federally recognized Tribes while maintaining the central role of the Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils as advisors to the Board.
2015 The Secretaries revise the regulations governing the rural determination process allowing the Federal Subsistence Board to define which communities or areas of Alaska are nonrural (all other communities and areas are, therefore, rural). The process enables the Board more flexibility in making decisions including accounting for regional differences. The new process allows for greater input from the Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils, Federally recognized Tribes of Alaska, Alaska Native Corporations, and the public.

Last updated: May 9, 2017