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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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B. Identification of Study Areas, March-September 1972

The March 17(d)(2) withdrawals were, as indicated, only preliminary. Final withdrawal of study areas would come the following September, after an evaluation of resource values of the areas. In early January, while still involved in identification of interest areas, the Service had begun defining study techniques, developing cost estimates, and identifying possible participants for the up-coming studies. [38]

By late January Director Hartzog had decided that the ANCSA implementation effort would be supervised directly by the Washington office, and on February 2, he chose Ted Swem to direct the project. [39] As defined in an April 26 "Roles and Functions" statement, the NPS Alaska effort was an agency-wide one. Swem, who reported to the director, exercised direct control over the Alaska effort, assumed responsibility for developing programs, staffing and funding requirements, and represented the Service in all intra-departmental affairs. In the field, an Alaska Task Force that reported directly to Swem while retaining a functional relationship with the Pacific Northwest Regional Office was responsible for carrying out all studies and planning activity. The Alaska Field Office, which reported to the Pacific Northwest Regional Director in Seattle, provided logistical support—personnel services, finance, and procurement. The regional office retained control of on-going operations in Alaska, while providing support services for the Alaska Task Force, and was responsible for collection of data relating to on-going park operations. The Denver Service Center would be asked, when necessary, to lend its expertise in such things as collection of land acquisition data, cost estimates of development, and the like. [40]

This organization was designed to provide greater flexibility for the Alaska effort than might have been the case otherwise. It facilitated communication between the Washington office and the Alaska Task Force, giving people on the ground in Alaska a greater voice in decisions. Because the ANCSA implementation effort involved several federal agencies, retaining direct control in Washington would allow for greater coordination between agencies than was normally the case. At the same time, it did limit the role of the regional director in decision-making that directly affected his region, although he was to be kept informed of all activities of the Task Force. [41] On paper the functions of the Alaska Task Force and Alaska Field Office were different; in reality they often overlapped. It was an organization almost certain to create tension within the Service despite efforts to ameliorate them. [42]

Other federal agencies prepared, as well, for the upcoming field season. Both the Forest Service and Bureau of Outdoor Recreation established special offices in Anchorage to conduct studies. The BSF&W, on the other hand, utilized its existing area office in Anchorage, sending additional staff to Alaska on detail when necessary. [43] At the departmental level the study efforts of the several agencies would be coordinated by a group headed by Frank A. Bracken, legislative counsel. [44]

Swem chose Albert G. Henson, a NPS planner with wide experience in park management and new area planning to supervise the Alaska Task Force. The NPS Task Force consisted of a small core staff of five permanently assigned to Anchorage, with an additional thirty-three people detailed to Alaska for periods ranging from four to six months during 1972 and 1973. [45] The group consisted of four hand-picked, multi-disciplinary teams (each comprised of a team captain, ecologist, landscape architect, and interpretive planner) assigned to evaluate from three to four areas in a given region. [46] Additionally, a fifth team, headed by Zorro Bradley, a NPS anthropologist who also directed the Service's newly-created Cooperative Park Studies Unit at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, studied historical and archeological areas and provided cultural resource assistance to all study teams. [47]

Initial NPS studies concentrated on evaluating the park values of areas withdrawn under 17(d)(2) and 17(d)(1) to determine what lands should be included in the final 17(d)(2) withdrawals to be made by September 17, 1972. [48] The basic concern in this phase (June-September 1972), which involved an analysis of both d-2 and d-1 lands, was insuring, in so far as possible, that the recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior for final withdrawal of study areas would include the very best possible lands available. The Park Service, and its approach was shared by the BOR and somewhat reluctantly by the BSF&W, studiously concentrated on resources and avoided making recommendations regarding future management of areas. They did of course, include general recommendations regarding which agency should manage the area, but made no effort to resolve overlapping interests. [49]

Following the completion of its analysis of the March withdrawal boundaries, the Task Force would undertake a regional or "eco-systems" approach to planning by studying the d-2 lands and adjacent areas to determine what, if any, land use controls should be imposed there to protect the d-2 withdrawal lands. They would initiate more detailed studies of the withdrawal areas necessary to prepare conceptual master plans, legislative support data, and environmental impact statements, all required for any legislative proposal. These studies, which were often made in concert with planning teams from other agencies and groups, would result in detailed knowledge about the areas that would be also important for future management purposes. It would result in a major addition to the existing body of knowledge about Alaska.

Recommendations regarding the March withdrawals were due in the Department of the Interior by July 20 for review by the assistant secretaries as well as Frank Bracken's group. Presentation to Secretary Morton was scheduled for August 10. [50] This meant that each of the "four systems" agencies would have only a matter of weeks (until July 14, in the case of the NPS) to analyze the March withdrawal areas, prepare justifications for any changes, and make recommendations to the Secretary for the final withdrawals. [51]

Chapter Three continues . . .


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

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