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Alaska National Interests Lands Act

Page history last edited by Courtney M. 10 years, 11 months ago



1. In what year was this law enacted?

          The law was signed by Jimmy Carter on December 2, 1980.


2. What events or situations led to the enactment of this law?

          In 1959, Alaska became a state. Shortly after the Statehood Act was passed. This act granted Alaska the right to select 104 million acres of land to manage as a revenue base. From 1959 to 1967 Alaska claimed 26 million acres, but the Alaskan native lands were wanted by the state. The Alaskan natives were not happy about this, so Stewart Udall, the Secretary of Interior at the time, declared a freeze on any additional land selections. In 1971 the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed. It granted twelve native-owned regional corporations $962 million in seed money and authorized native corporations to select 44 million acres of federal lands in Alaska. A very important part of the ANCSA was Section 17(d)(2) which directed the Secretary of Interior to withdraw 80 million acres of significant federal lands from development. These lands were termed "d-2" lands which were to be available for potential congressional designation as national parks, wildlife refuges, wild and scenic rivers, or national forests. In 1977 the first version of ANILCA was introduced to the House of Representatives. The main concern was to pass the d-2 lands. The Carter administration withdrew more than 100 million acres of federal lands from development in 1978. 40 million were withdrawn under the Secretary of Interior, Cecil Andrus. 56 million were designated as National Monuments. In November of 1980 Congress passed the final version of ANILCA and it was signed into law by President Carter on December 2, 1980.


3. What controversy, if any, is or was connected to this law?

          The main concern was to protect the land while keeping the natives happy. It was also important to make sure that the d-2 lands got passed into permanent law.


4. What does the law do?

          ANILCA is often called the most significant land conservation measure in the history of our nation. It protects over 100 million acres of federal lands in Alaska. By protecting these lands, America doubled the size of its national park and refuge system and tripled the amount of land designated as wilderness. The protected public lands became units of the National Park, National Wildlife Refuge, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Wilderness Preservation, and National Forests Systems.  T.H. Watkins described the act in that "...[it] was once one of the noblest and most comprehensive legislative acts in American history, because, with the scratch of the presidential pen that signed it, the act set aside more wild country than had been preserved anywhere in the world up to that time-- 104.3 million acres. By itself, the Alaska Lands Act stood as a ringing validation of the best of what the conservation movement had stood for in the century since Henry David Thoreau had walked so thoughfully in the woods of Walden Pond."


5. What impacts has this law had?

          ANILCA has sparked debates over drilling for oil. Should drilling be allowed in these federal lands to reduce the costs of importing oil? Since the government owns them, shouldn't the American people have the right to decide? However, many groups are opposed to this idea because they believe the wildlife habitats will be destroyed. Another issue is the use of ATVs and snowmobiles. Trails for these machines are all over the protected lands. Do we allow these to harm the habitats and federal lands, or do we use the ANILCA to stop degredation? It ultimately comes down to how much the government is willing to back up the act and how the American citizens react.

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