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NPS in Alaska Before 1972


Response to ANCSA, 1971-1973

current topic ANILCA

NPS in Alaska, 1973-1980





The National Park Service and the
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980: Administrative History

Chapter Four:
The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act: A Legislative History
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B. Department of the Interior Activities, 1974-1977

This is not to suggest that work on the Alaska national interest lands came to a stop. In so far as the National Park Service and other federal agencies were concerned, quite the opposite is true. In the intervening years, from 1974 to 1977, the National Park Service carried on an intensive effort that would provide a more solid data base when Congress did begin its deliberations. These same activities would create an expertise that would be important for management of the areas when they were established, and assist the Interior Department in implementation of interrelated aspects of ANCSA. [7]

By July 22, 1974, the final closing date for review comments on the 1973 draft environmental impact statements, the department had received over 6,000 public comments. Merely cataloging these comments, not to mention incorporating them in the final statements, would be a massive undertaking that would involve the Washington office Alaska staffs of all "four-systems agencies," the Alaska Planning Group, and a sizeable number of people detailed to Washington specifically for the project. Pushed on not only by the need for completion in terms of legislation, but to assist the Natives in completing village selections, the department distributed the final impact statements between December 1974 and February 1975. [8]

In Alaska, moreover, the Service's Alaska Task Force continued master planning and updating of the legislative support data for the eleven NPS proposals. The accretion of knowledge of the proposed areas and areas of ecological concern came from continued on-site inspections as well as a wide variety of detailed studies. It would provide a basis for revision of the 1973 master plans and a re-examination of the proposed boundaries. The Service would, in addition, continue to expand its Native assistance program, and conduct follow-up work to develop certain issues that would be critical to the legislative process and future management of the areas—subsistence, sport hunting, carrying capacity determination, mining and minerals, and access, for example. A continually escalating part of their workload would be responding to congressional requests for additional information, commenting on legislative proposals, and synthesizing a growing body of knowledge to be used to defend Service's proposals at congressional hearings. [9]

Interior Department and bureau officials recognized, moreover, that the collection of data to assist Congress in its deliberations and the laying of a solid foundation for future management did not guarantee success for the department's program in Alaska. In 1974, following a course suggested by Theodor Swem and Al Henson the previous year, the Alaska Planning Group launched an intensive campaign to provide information for the American public and Alaskans, in particular, about the issues involved, the opportunities presented, and the Department's program for the Alaska. [10]

The campaign, which included slide shows in all national parks, hand-outs, articles in newspapers and magazines, speakers, and two movies—"Age of Alaska," and "One Man's Alaska"—complemented and stimulated a similar campaign carried on by the private sector. [11] The effort in 1974-77 certainly helped to raise the level of public consciousness about Alaska. Moreover, it helped to lay groundwork for the conservationists' "grass-roots" campaign that would be so important a part of the successful effort to secure passage of an Alaska national interest lands act after 1977.

Chapter Four continues with...
Cook Inlet and the Proposed Lake Clark National Park


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

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