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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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D. The Proposals Take Shape

By 1976, with the five-year time limit for congressional action on the d-2 lands quickly slipping away, those with an interest in Alaska's lands prepared for what all believed would be the final chapter in the legislative process. Significant changes occurred in the Park Service's WASO Alaska organization as it prepared for the up-coming legislative sessions. At the end of February 1976, Theodor Swem, who had directed the Service's Alaska effort since its inception, retired. William C. Everhart, a career NPS historian then serving as special assistant to the director, replaced Swem on an interim basis. [29]

Concerns had existed from the very beginning that the organization of the Park Service's Alaska effort, which existed outside the traditional line organization, could work to the detriment of the Service's decision-making ability. [30] In an effort to unify the organization more along functional lines as well as to strengthen the Service's own legislative capacity, Director Gary Everhardt transferred a major share of the Service's Alaska organization to the office of legislation, and on November 26, 1977, announced the appointment of Roger J. Contor, a career park manager and then superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park, as assistant to the director for Alaska. Contor, whose duties spanned all program areas in Alaskan matters, was given specific responsibility for improving communications and coordinating the Service's Alaska effort. [31]

Contor, who remained in the position until July 1979, was, by his own description, more conservative in his approach than Swem had been. Meanwhile, conditions had changed. After 1977 the role of the conservationists in the legislative process would increase dramatically, and the Alaska legislative effort within the Department of the Interior would be more closely controlled at the departmental level than before. Nevertheless, despite changes in personnel and circumstances, the basic objective and approach of the Park Service in Alaska would remain constant. [32]

Representatives of the Alaska mining industry prepared an "Alaska Resource Preservation" bill which would have added 12,925,000 acres to the National Park System; protected lands with "substantial agricultural, forest, mineral industry, or multiple-use potentials including recreation" by adding 20,000,000 acres of national forests; and established eleven "5th system" areas that amounted to 44,531,000 acres. [33] In April the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission published tentative recommendations for the addition of 24,100,000 acres to the National Park System, 11,500,000 acres to national forests, 16,700,000 acres to wildlife refuges, and 2,700,000 to wild and scenic rivers. [34] The commission recommended that hunting and mining be excluded from all national park units except national preserves (4,300,000 acres), that a total of 7,700,000 acres be reserved as "wilderness study areas," and that 31,300,000 acres be placed in a new management system—National Land Reserves. [35] The latter were areas that included both multiple-use potential as well as significant scenic and natural features. Planning and classification of these lands would be a joint federal-state effort, and management would be accomplished by one of the existing systems (not specified).

Conservationists had made significant contributions during the process leading to the Morton proposals. Nonetheless, by their own admission, they had reacted to events, while federal conservation agencies took the lead. Although there had been considerable contact with those agencies, both on a formal and informal basis, conservationists had been unable to overcome the influence of the multiple-use advocates in the bargaining that had shaped Secretary Morton's December 1973 legislative recommendation. Beginning in late 1974, and often in consultation with Department of the Interior staff, conservation groups developed organizational relations, agreed to funding of the re-invigorated Alaska Coalition that would be responsible for shepherding a d-2 bill through Congress, established priorities, developed a legislative strategy, and began work to build a political base that would, in the end, convince Congress of the desire of Americans everywhere for passage of a strong Alaska lands bill. [36]

Chapter Four continues with...
The Carter Administration Takes Over


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

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