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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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E. The Carter Administration Takes Over

The election of President Jimmy Carter in November 1976 brought the promise not only of action on the Alaska bill but also, that the previous administration's proposals would be strengthened. Carter had compiled a credible conservation record, had promised to support an Alaska lands bill during the presidential campaign, and had pledged to include conservationists in his administration. Equally important, a combination of circumstances in the election had left open the chairmanship of the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, with the likelihood that Representative Morris Udall would take over that post. John Seiberling, who had travelled to Alaska to examine the new areas in 1975, would assume chairmanship of a specially-created subcommittee on General Oversight and Alaska Lands, with Harry Crandell, who had been the Wilderness Society's director of wilderness reviews, as his chief of staff. [37]

Buoyed by this fortuitous turn of events, representatives of most major conservation organizations met within a week of Carter's election to map strategies, thrash out policy issues, and draw up the outlines of a new Alaska lands bill. [38] The conservationists did not have the resources to analyze the lands that federal agencies did. But, over the years, they had met regularly with staff of those agencies, exchanged data, and had access, of course, to the 1974-1975 environmental impact statements. [39] Using that information, as well as the expertise of knowledgeable Alaskans, the conservationists prepared a preservation package that was considerably different from the Morton proposal and whose boundaries were for, the most part, those that had been identified by Interior Department agencies in 1973 as areas of ecological concern or included as alternatives in the 1974-75 environmental impact statements. [40]

In the next several weeks, Alaska Coalition members and staff of the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs polished the bill and cleared it with Representatives Udall and Seiberling. On January 4, 1977, the first day of the Ninety-Fifth Congress, Representative Udall, along with seventy-five co-sponsors, introduced what he said was "one of the most important pieces of legislation in the conservation annals of our country." [41] H.R. 39, and companion bills introduced by Senators Lee Metcalf, Henry Jackson, and Clifford Hansen, [42] proposed setting aside up to 115,300,000 acres in the four national systems. The largest amount, 64,100,000 acres, would go to the National Park System:

Gates of the Arctic13,600,000
Yukon-Charley National Preserve3,200,000
Kobuk Valley National Monument1,900,000
Cape Krusenstern National Monument900,000
Wrangell-Kluane International Park and
  Chisana National Preserve
Lake Clark National Park7,500,000
Kenai Fjords National Monument600,000
Aniakchak Caldera National Monument400,000
Chukchi-Imuruk National Monument4,500,000
Noatak National Preserve7,600,000
Mount McKinley National Park additions4,700,000
Katmai National Monument additions2,600,000
Glacier Bay National Monument additions800,000 [43]

Twenty-three wild and scenic rivers totalled 4,000,000 acres, and 46,400,000 acres would be added to the wildlife refuge system. The bill provided for no new national forests, although it did authorize the President to add up to 1,600,000 acres to the Tongass and Chugach national forests.

H R. 39 prohibited sport hunting and mining in national parks and monuments, although it provided for subsistence uses in "subsistence management zones," and permitted sport hunting in national preserves. [44] The bill would have given the Park Service the responsibility for administering the wild and scenic rivers in Alaska. It would have established a specific mechanism for regulating subsistence through "regulatory subsistence boards" made up of subsistence users, and provided for a ten-year review of the effects of hunting and fishing that included subsistence use. Previous state land selections within national interest areas would be invalidated if adequate land could be found elsewhere. The conservationists' proposal would have authorized identification of areas of ecological concern and, in recognition of the importance of the Alaska lands, would have authorized establishment of separate regional offices in Alaska for three Interior Department bureaus—NPS, FWS, and BOR.

Finally, and this was the most controversial aspect of the bill, H.R. 39 authorized establishment of over 145,000,000 acres of "instant wilderness," bypassing the normal review process for wilderness designation. Included were virtually all proposed park areas in Alaska, and some 5.4 million acres of national forest lands in Southeast, that were not d-2 lands. [45]

Representative Udall, and virtually everyone who supported H.R. 39, made it clear that the bill should not be taken as final, but was, rather, meant to be a focal point for discussion of the question of the disposition and management of the public domain in Alaska. [46] It certainly proved to be that. Alaskans, with the exception of the members of the conservation community, generally opposed the bill. [47] The Alaska Federation of Natives, while agreeing to use the bill as a vehicle for amendments, expressed serious concerns regarding protection of subsistence, development options for Native corporations, and Native lands rights, as well as the large wilderness designations. [48] Development industries and related groups—chambers of commerce, tourist industry, logging industry, miners, and recreation interests—all expressed varying degrees of opposition, and became the driving force behind the Citizens for Management of Alaska Lands (CMAL), a lobbying group formed to oppose the Udall bill and work for one more favorable toward development. [49]

Following a series of meetings with different groups around the state, Governor Hammond, Senator Stevens, and Representative Young prepared a bill that they insisted represented a "true consensus of the vast majority of Alaskans who want to see a rational and well reasoned congressional decision on the national interest lands. [50] Introduced by Senator Stevens as S.1787 on June 30, 1977, the "consensus bill" would have set aside some 75,000,000 acres in the various management systems. [51] Five new national park units (Aniakchak National Monument, Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Gates of the Arctic National Park, Kobuk Sand Dunes National Monument and Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park), and additions to Katmai National Monument and Mount McKinley National Park totalled 10,450,000 acres. The bill provided for the addition of 8,040,000 acres to the wildlife refuge system, 1,000,000 acres in three wild and scenic rivers, 5,748,000 acres in additional national forests, and over 56,000,000 in "federal cooperative lands." The latter, along with state and privately-held lands, would be managed by the various agencies, and would be open to all uses, save disposal, authorized by the public land laws. [52] The bill provided for the establishment of a federal-state Alaska Lands Commission that would provide inventories of the lands, develop comprehensive land use plans, and make land classification of cooperative lands under its jurisdiction. Additionally, S.1787 guaranteed access, mineral exploration and development, wilderness review, and it prohibited the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture from administratively establishing new areas.

Park Service employees were ambivalent toward Representative Udall's H.R. 39. NPS Alaska planners generally found the bill to be an improvement over the Morton proposal, although most agreed that the bill was only a starting point that needed considerable correction. Those concerned with management of existing and future areas in Alaska, on the other hand, tended to be more critical. Both Bryan Harry and Roger Contor, for example, pointed out that H.R. 39 would create many wilderness areas that were already so impacted as to be virtually unmanageable. [53]

Cecil D. Andrus, President Carter's choice as Secretary of the Interior, made no specific recommendations regarding H.R. 39 when he appeared before the subcommittee on General Oversight and Alaska Lands in April 1977. He reaffirmed the administration's support for a strong Alaska lands bill, saying

The establishment and protection of large land areas in Alaska as units of the four systems called for in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act is the highest environmental priority of this administration.

He promised completion of a detailed report on H.R. 39 and other legislation by fall, following additional analysis by the several agencies. He refused to support the Morton proposals, moreover, indicating that the Carter administration would not be bound by the recommendations "the staff made in years gone by." [54]

Actually, Andrus, with encouragement from Curtis Bohlen, had decided to strengthen the Morton proposals and increase the size of the d-2 package at an early meeting regarding the Alaska lands. Although no figures were discussed then, by August Secretary Andrus indicated that he could recommend 85-90,000,000 acres. Such a decision was in keeping for a man who had established a record of concern for the environment. Most probably, too, Bohlen's suggestion that a Democratic administration should go beyond a Republican one appealed to the political sensibilities of the former governor of Idaho. [55]

Andrus had decided, too, that because the legislation would cut across several bureaus, the direction of Interior's d-2 effort would be tightly controlled at the departmental level. He reconstituted the Alaska Planning Group with Curtis Bohlen as chairman, and on April 22, announced the appointment of Bohlen as Special Assistant to the Secretary for "planning and coordination of Interior natural and cultural resource issues for programs in Alaska." [56]

Secretary Andrus had promised to have detailed recommendations on H.R. 39 completed by September. Along with this analysis of H.R. 39, he ordered a thorough-going review of the 1973 Morton proposals. In this analysis, Curtis Bohlen admonished the agencies, they must keep in mind the secretary's determination to protect complete ecosystems, and that any boundary recommendation not including complete watersheds should include recommendations for protection and management of areas outside the boundaries. The comments on the types of resources within the boundaries, Bohlen indicated, would be central to establishing the Carter Administration's position on the Alaska lands bill. [57]

The Department of Agriculture quickly recognized the importance of the approach outlined by the Department of the Interior. It could, Assistant Agriculture Secretary M. Rupert Cutler warned, result in using H.R. 39 rather than the 1973 Morton proposal as a legislative base to establish the administration's position. While Cutler admitted that some boundary adjustments might be necessary, he wrote that the major changes to include ecosystems threatened the delicate balance of Secretary Morton's proposal. It would, he asserted, invalidate the Morton-Butz agreement that shaped those proposals, and would certainly conflict with state and Native selections, raising once again the possibility of litigation which could destroy the d-2 process. On August 16 Secretary Andrus confirmed Cutler's concern when he indicated that he would use the promised report on H.R. 39 as the vehicle for legislative action, rather than preparing an alternative proposal. [58]

The Bureau of Land Management had anticipated Secretary Andrus's directive for reevaluation of the Morton proposals. Asserting that the BLM Organic Act (Federal Land Policy and Management Act, October 21, 1976) provided a congressional charter which required a reconsideration of the 1973 recommendations, that agency proceeded to refurbish its "fifth system" approach to management of Alaska's public lands. It proposed establishment of six national park units and additions to Katmai and Mount McKinley that totaled 31,700,000 acres, four new wildlife refuges and additions to Arctic Wildlife Range and Cape Newenham, additions to Chugach and Tongass national forests, and 25,000,000 in new "state selection areas. " Eight "national conservation areas" totaling 119,800,000 acres would be managed by BLM for multiple-use purposes. [59] The Bureau had not, apparently, apprised the new Secretary of the Interior of its efforts. A premature release of the plans, and the following uproar in the Alaska press led an angry Cecil Andrus to put an end to the Bureau's proposals. [60]

The Park Service had begun a review of its own proposals during the first week of December 1976, when selected keymen met in Washington with Roger Contor to examine the proposals and the Service's proposed justifications for use in future legislative hearings. [61] Based upon three years of intensive research and on-site investigation, NPS Alaska planners had, by the early part of 1977, developed boundaries for each area that incorporated the ideal park unit. At Yukon-Charley, for example, Bill Brown suggested including the Kandik and Nation rivers and Ogilvie Mountains, and extending the southeast boundary to the 70-Mile River. John Kauffmann had delineated thirteen boundary adjustments at Gates of the Arctic that included Wild Lake, important resources of the upper Noatak Basin, and Kipmik and Amitchiak lakes. Bob Belous recommended extending the northern boundary of Cape Krusenstern to the north bank of the Omikviorok River, to include Ipiakuk Lagoon, the northern, terminus for the beach gravel migration system responsible for continuing beach ridge construction. Extension of the southeastern boundary would include important archeological resources along the foothills of Napaktuktuk Mountain. [62]

By July the Service had completed its detailed analysis of H.R. 39 which had been ordered by Secretary Andrus and Curtis Bohlen. The results of that analysis were presented to Director William J. Whalen during the first week in August for his decision. Brushing aside concerns over possible future management problems, Whalen resolved what had been a disagreement within the NPS Washington Office regarding the size of the recommended areas and the amount of instant wilderness to be proposed, and concentrated, instead, on what he saw as the opportunities presented for preserving major areas of land in Alaska as part of the National Park System. [63]

In his report to Assistant Secretary Herbst, Director Whalen recommended amendments to H.R. 39, which would have resulted in the inclusion of fourteen areas to the National Park System totalling 50,919,000 acres:

Gates of the Arctic National Park10,300,000
Yukon-Charley National Rivers2,500,000
Kobuk Valley National Park1,700,000
Cape Krusenstern National Monument283,000
Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park10,200,000
Wrangell-Saint Elias National Preserve (2 units)2,800,000
Lake Clark National Park2,500,000
Lake Clark National Preserve1,200,000
Aniakchak National Monument345,000
Aniakchak National Preserve212,000
Noatak National Preserve7,600,000
Admiralty Island National Preserve942,000
Mount McKinley National Park additions3,900,000
Katmai National Park additions1,800,000
Glacier Bay National Park additions580,000
Kenai Fjords National Park757,000
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve3,300,000 [64]

H.R. 39 proposed that the Noatak, which Secretary Morton had recommended for joint BLM-FWS management, be administered by the Park Service, something most in the Park Service had little difficulty accepting. Included as well in Director Whalen's recommendations was the addition of a number of areas recommended by NPS Alaska planners in the "ideal boundaries" prepared earlier in the year. At Gates of the Arctic, for example, a part of the recommended increase in acreage came at Wild Lake, the lower Alatna, and a portion of the John River and the Yukon-Charley proposal included the Kandik and Nation rivers as well as areas along the north bank of the 70-Mile River. Director Whalen recommended that the Cape Krusenstern boundaries as delineated in the Morton proposals be used, with the recommended additions described earlier as part of a designated "Area of Ecological Concern."

Whalen recommended, moreover, NPS management of wild and scenic rivers only in National Park System areas. He urged recognition of valid existing rights, but opposition to all new mineral exploration, location, and leasing. He asserted that development of surface transportation corridors would result in damage to park resources. He opposed sport hunting in parks, but indicated that controlled sport hunting would be allowed in certain areas of high-hunting use in preserves. He supported the "instant wilderness designation" in Gates of the Arctic, Wrangell-Saint Elias, Admiralty Island, Lake Clark, Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords, and Denali, but argued that wilderness designation elsewhere should come only after appropriate studies.

The first NPS statements on subsistence had come in 1973. [65] Since that time the Service had conducted an intensive program that included detailed studies of subsistence in each of the proposed areas in an effort to satisfactorily deal with that issue. [66] Based on the additional information, Director Whalen indicated that although H.R. 39 was generally sensitive to subsistence, the mechanisms included in the bill were thought to be too specific and should be, instead, established through departmental policy and regulations.

In its analysis of H.R. 39, the Park Service did address, necessarily, the question of the Noatak and Admiralty Island, agreeing that those areas met the criteria for inclusion in the National Park System. Elsewhere, the Service chose not to question the management system designations determined in 1973. [67] Several of the areas—Kenai Fjords, Chukchi-Imuruk, Lake Clark-Iliamna, for example—long had been of interest to both Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. The distinction between park and wildlife values in these areas, as well as in the Noatak, was not clear. In 1977 the FWS, quite probably correctly so, interpreted Secretary Andrus' directive for a review of the Morton proposals as an opportunity to reevaluate management systems designated in that document. [68]

When the FWS completed its analysis of H.R. 39, it recommended, among other things, that Noatak, Kobuk Valley, Bering Land Bridge (Chukchi-Imuruk), Kenai Fjords, Bremner River area of the Wrangells, and portions of the southern addition of Katmai be added to the wildlife refuge system. [69] Assistant Secretary Herbst first accepted the FWS proposal when he began to reshape the recommendations of the NPS, BOR, and FWS. One day later (August 18), following intensive lobbying by Park Service officials, Herbst reconsidered, and restored Noatak, Bering Land Bridge, Kenai Fjords and Kobuk Valley to the National Park Service proposals. He transferred six townships in the northern Wrangells to the proposed Tetlin Wildlife Refuge, and the area in the Katmai addition near Bercharof Lake and Kejulik drainage to the proposed Bercharof Wildlife Refuge. The lower Noatak, as agreed to by the NPS and FWS, became the proposed Quagaguiaq National Wildlife Refuge. [70]

By August 23 Assistant Secretary Herbst had resolved most differences between the three d-2 agencies, and had forwarded a comprehensive proposal to Secretary Andrus that provided for the addition of more than 102,452,000 acres to the National Park, National Wildlife Refuge, and Wild and Scenic Rivers systems. Among some 51,646,000 acres of proposed national parks were four national preserves, including, for the first time, an 869,000-acre preserve in the Gates of the Arctic. [71]

In the next several weeks Assistant Secretary Herbst's proposals were reviewed by the other assistant secretaries, other departments, OMB, and the White House. At each stage the proposals were revised and on September 15, the Department of the Interior released its proposals. Release of the Interior Department's proposed amendments to H.R. 39 followed a period of intensive negotiations and overnight deadlines for preparation of proposals and maps that left everyone involved exhausted. The job could not have been made easier by the dismissal of Curtis Bohlen, who lost his job in departmental infighting in mid-August. Bohlen's replacement, Cynthia Wilson would direct the department's ANILCA effort through passage of the legislation. Wilson's involvement with Alaska the lands issue extended back to her position as the Audubon Society's Washington representative. She had most recently served as Secretary Andrus' assistant for environmental affairs. [72]

Asserting that "we can be certain that the crown jewels of Alaska—its most spectacular natural environments, recreation areas, and wildlife habitats," would be protected, Secretary Andrus offered amendments to H.R. 39 that, while certainly scaling down that bill, still proposed to set aside 91,800,000 acres in the four national systems. [73] He would have doubled the size of the National Park System by the establishment of ten new areas and additions to three existing ones totalling 41,770,000 acres:

Aniakchak National Monument340,000
Aniakchak National Preserve160,000
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve2,340,000
Cape Krusenstern National Monument360,000
Denali National Park additions3,850,000
Gates of the Arctic Wilderness National Park8,120,000
Glacier Bay National Park590,000
Katmai National Park additions1,110,000
Kenai Fjords National Park410,000
Kobuk Valley National Park1,670,000
Lake Clark National Park3,140,000
Noatak National Ecological Preserve5,960,000
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park9,560,000
Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve2,490,000
Yukon-Charley National Rivers1,690,000

He would have, additionally, doubled the size of the National Wildlife Refuge System with the addition of 45,100,000 acres, established thirty-three Wild and Scenic Rivers (2,540,000 acres), and added 2,450,000 acres to Chugach and Tongass national forests.

Secretary Andrus proposed to designate 41,320,000 acres—30,805,000 of it in NPS areas—as "instant wilderness." Sport hunting would have been permitted in national preserves, but prohibited in the parks and monuments. A non-racial subsistence policy was based primarily on NPS research completed since 1974. Subsistence would take place in specially designated "subsistence management zones, " and would be jointly managed by the state and federal governments. The Secretary of the Interior would designate zones, and have the right to close areas if resources were in jeopardy. The Alaska Fish and Game Department would assume responsibility for management, administration, and enforcement, and the state would have responsibility for determining, "without regard to race or ethnic origins," who qualified for subsistence use. The state would be authorized, as well, to establish local advisory boards to help determine who qualified. The Alaska Fish and Game Department would also be responsible, in consultation with federal managers, for management of fish and wildlife. Andrus proposed, moreover, establishment of an Alaska Cooperative Planning Commission, similar to the JFSLUPC, that would function in an advisory capacity in land and resource use, transportation, and the like. The proposal also would have established areas of ecological concern amounting to 80,000,000 acres. Secretary Andrus called for the establishment of two "mineral management zones" in Wrangell-Saint Elias National Preserve, where the secretary would be authorized to grant permits for the study of mineral potential and, under strict guidelines, could issue permits for exploration and extraction. Finally, reflecting NPS concerns, the department attempted to add an extra measure of protection for the areas by including a clear statement of purpose for establishment of each area. [74]

The Andrus proposal was, certainly, a much stronger preservation package than had been the Morton recommendations, although conservationists believed that it, too, fell short of the ideal. [75] It was, as the Morton proposal had been, a compromise that attempted to balance the concerns of a broader constituency than had H.R. 39. [76] At the last minute, for example, the Service lost an area which it had studied off and on since the 1930s—Admiralty Island—and the FWS lost the proposed Copper River Delta Wildlife Refuge through a decision that also foreclosed on the possibility of establishment of national forests in interior Alaska. [77]

Chapter Four continues with...
The Alaska National Interest Lands Bills in Congress, 1977-1978


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

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