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Controversy in Alaska


Alaska oil pipeline
Alaska oil pipeline

In the 1970s the so-called d2 controversy erupted in Alaska, named after Section 17(d)(2) in the ANCSA, which directed the secretary of the interior to withdraw land for study and possible inclusion in federal conservation units. In 1972 the secretary withdrew 29 million hectares (72 million acres). In 1973 the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission, established in 1972 by the state and federal governments under the ANCSA, made its first recommendation for the withdrawn acreage. Reflecting its largely Alaskan composition, it stressed the multiple-use concept and urged that more than 24 million hectares (60 million acres) be opened for mineral development.

At the same time conservation groups lobbied vigorously for the creation of parks, wilderness areas, and refuges, and an Alaskan task force in the Department of the Interior formulated alternatives for the acreage. The task force was under conflicting pressures from industry, conservationists, and the state, all of which had different plans for the land. It also had to deal with federal agencies; the U.S. Forest Service intended to create vast new national forests, while the Bureau of Land Management desired to maintain its control over the land, and the National Park Service wanted to add new parks and expand existing ones.

A bitter fight ensued within Alaska and in Congress. Finally, Congress approved the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) in 1980. The measure put 42 million hectares (104 million acres) in new conservation units; of these, 23 million hectares (57 million acres) were designated as wilderness.

Alaska’s Natives had started to lobby Congress once they realized that the ANCSA did not protect the subsistence lifestyle—hunting and fishing for their own consumption—that many Natives still followed. Congress, therefore, included a provision in the ANILCA to ensure the continuation of the subsistence lifestyle. Federal land managers were to give the highest priority to subsistence use of resources by rural Alaskans, and the state was to continue management of fish and wildlife on federal lands as long as it adhered to that basic priority.

However, the state could not do so because the state constitution grants all citizens equal access to the use of natural resources. Thus the federal government assumed fish and wildlife management responsibilities on the public lands. Subsistence has remained a volatile issue in Alaska, with no easy solution. Encarta "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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