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NPS in Alaska Before 1972


current topic 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

Chapter Three:
Response to ANCSA, 1971-1973
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A. March 17, 1972 (d)(2) Withdrawals (continued)

Section 17(d)(2) of ANCSA allowed nine months for identification of lands to be withdrawn for study as potential additions to one of the four conservation systems. Because of uncertainty as to the effect of the expiration of the ninety-day freeze mandated by section 17(d)(1), Interior Department officials assumed almost from the beginning that a preliminary withdrawal of d-2 lands would be made before that time. Secretary Morton agreed early on to this presumption. [21]

Just as early, some in the Department began to consider the possibility of withdrawing additional lands under Section 17(d)(1) at the same time. [22] The idea proved appealing, despite some suspicion as to the motives behind the suggestion. Placing d-2 lands under d-1 protection would, it was believed, provide additional protection should the five-year time limit for congressional action expire. [23] It would additionally, provide for a wider final selection than otherwise possible, and the withdrawal of d-1 lands would provide a buffer around d-2 lands, allowing for a broader, eco-system approach to planning. [24] For the Park Service, which was just beginning to assess major problems faced at Everglades and Redwoods national parks, the last argument proved especially compelling. [25] The Park Service, along with the Bureau of Sports Fisheries and Wildlife proved the strongest supporters of withdrawing additional lands in March.

On January 11 Congressmen John Saylor and Morris Udall seconded the arguments of those who argued for a larger withdrawal in March. Forwarding a most liberal interpretation of the relevant provisions, the two congressmen argued that such an action was certainly within the legislative intent. [26]

On February 3, 1972, Assistant Secretary Reed made his preliminary recommendations for a total withdrawal of 135,000,000 acres. One month later, on March 2, he made his final recommendation for a withdrawal of approximately 80,000,000 million acres under section 17(d)(2) that would be incorporated in a larger withdrawal of 148,000,000 acres under section 17(d)(1). [27] Reed recommended that 38,865,000 acres of d-2 land be withdrawn as potential national park areas The BSF&W would have been alloted 41,026,000 acres, with 4,000,000 more for Wild and Scenic Rivers. The total recommended d-1 withdrawal would have included 61,165,000 acres for parks, 100,170,000 for refuges and 4,000,000 acres for wild and scenic rivers. [28] Secretary Reed recommended, additionally, a 17(d)(1) withdrawal for all existing refuges and for refuge replacement for lands selected by Native corporations within refuges. Finally, he recommended the withdrawal of Mount McKinley National Park and Glacier Bay National Monument from operation of the mining laws.

Secretary Morton accepted Secretary Reed's recommendation, although not the total d-1 acreage proposed. On March 9, 1972, he withdrew approximately 80,000,000 acres of land under authority of 17(d)(2) and approximately 47,100,000 more acres under 17(d)(1). [29]

Six days later, on March 15, Secretary Morton, saying that he intended "to move as rapidly as possible in implementing the applicable laws, while preserving good land use practices and observing the rights of everyone concerned," announced that he had signed a series of public land orders that involved some 273,000,000 acres of the public domain in Alaska. He modified, slightly, his March 9 land order in again withdrawing approximately 80,000,000 acres for possible inclusion in the conservation systems. In addition he set aside some 45,000,000 acres of d-1 lands for study and classification, made 35,000,000 acres available for state selection and 40,000,000 more for Native selection, and set aside 3,000,000 acres for "in lieu" replacement of federal wildlife refuge lands chosen by Natives, and as additional lands for transportation and utility corridors. [30]

map of ANCSA withdrawls in Alaska, 1972
Withdrawls authorized by Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, March 1972.
(click on map for larger size)

National Park Service officials were not altogether happy with Secretary Morton's withdrawals. George Hartzog, who believed the purpose of the 17(d)(2) provision was primarily to provide for additions to the National Park System, thought that the results were a "complete disaster." [31] To meet the 80,000,000-acre limit, large areas in Gates of the Arctic, and Wrangell Mountains, as well as the entire Kenai Fjords interest area had been deleted from the NPS List, although the latter was included under BSF&W acreage. [32] Nevertheless, the March withdrawals did represent a considerable proportion of what the Service had indicated it wanted earlier:

AreasStudy Area Acres
Mount McKinley National Park Additions4,019,251
Katmai National Monument Additions1,218,490
Aniakchak Crater279,914
Mount Veniaminof562,386
Great Kobuk Sand Dunes302,729
Nogabahara Sand Dunes91,244
Imuruk Lava Field209,182
Lake Clark Pass3,265,036
Saint Elias - Chugach9,318,778
Tanana Hills1,779,210
Gates of the Arctic11,323,118
Yukon River - Eagle to Circle908,500
Noatak RiverIndefinite

33,446,238+ [33]

During the coming summer the Bureau of Sports Fisheries and Wildlife would study twelve areas totalling 49,000,000 acres, with some 12,000,000 acres overlapping NPS interest areas. The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation studied twenty-one rivers, totaling 5,000,000 acres. Three and a half million acres of these overlapped d-2 lands studied by other agencies. The remaining rivers were d-2 river corridors surrounded, primarily, by d-1 lands. [34]

Conservationists, who had invested some $30,000 in newspaper advertisements prior to the March withdrawals, were, according to one source, "generally well pleased". with the Secretary's actions. Alaskans, on the other hand, reacted strongly to the withdrawals. The Anchorage Daily Times conjured up the image of dark deeds by repeating the centuries-old warning—"Beware of the Ides of March." Congressman Nick Begich, who had played so critical a role in the passage of ANCSA in 1971, called it a "massive land grab," while Alaska Attorney General John Havelock referred to a "sellout of the people in Alaska," and threatened to sue. Senator Ted Stevens, on the other hand, took a more concilatory stance, and generally supported the Secretary, although he disagreed with the action in some regards. [35]

On January 21 the state had filed for selection of a total of 77,000,000 acres in anticipation of Secretary Morton's March withdrawals, an amount that would have substantially completed its statehood entitlement. Although Secretary Morton made 35,000,000 acres available for immediate state selection on March 15, some 42,000,000 acres of the January 21 selections remained in conflict with the March withdrawals. [36]

On April 10, 1972, the state made good on its threats to sue over the March withdrawals. Claiming that Secretary Morton's actions were "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion," the state asked the court to set aside the March withdrawals and reaffirm its January selections. [37]

Chapter Three continues with...
Identification of Study Areas, March-September 1972


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

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