Land Use and Access Planning
State and Local Planning

State and Local Planning

ADF&G participates in a variety of land use review processes by contributing knowledge of fish and wildlife populations and habitats and how best to conserve these habitats concurrent with land use activities. These processes include land use planning, land lease and permit reviews for activities on State lands and waters, and reviewing land disposals that may affect fish and wildlife and public use, such as actions under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Land use planning is a collaborative, adaptive process by which land managers, biologists, members of the public, and local stakeholder groups work together to produce State Area and Management Plans that guide and inform the day-to-day decisions that impact the use and development of Alaska’s lands and waters. ADF&G is frequently afforded the opportunity to comment and make recommendations alongside the general public in borough and local planning and platting actions.

State Land Disposals

State lands can be conveyed out of State ownership through a variety of process called State Land Disposals. Fish and Game staff works with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to review land disposals for potential affects to fish and wildlife and their habitat and public access to fish and wildlife resources. DNR is required by state statute AS 29.65.010 to convey a specific amount of state lands to established boroughs and municipalities. ADF&G participates in this process by reviewing each municipal land selection for potential impacts to fish or wildlife habitat and populations, and hunter and angler access. Fish and Game staff also review state land disposals including remote recreational cabin stakings, state subdivision proposals, and section line easement vacations (see Easement Vacations for additional information).

Easement Vacations

The state, boroughs and private individuals frequently request the vacation of public easements. Vacation of a public easement must be processed through the State Easement Vacation Unit, the local government (borough or city) platting review board, or in many cases both. Although the vacation of some of these easements may not pose a problem for public access, a number of them do. ADF&G participates in agency and public reviews of State and borough platting actions to identify and protect public access to the public lands and waters of the state as well as to our fish and wildlife resources.

Rafts on the Alagnak River
Rafts on the Alagnak River.

The Alaska State Constitution provides for free access and common use of public and navigable waters by any citizen of the United States or resident of the State of Alaska. State ownership of the beds of navigable waters is an inherent attribute of state sovereignty protected by the United States Constitution. Before land can be patented to Alaska Native corporations or certified as Native allotments, it has to be surveyed. Fish and Game staff works with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to evaluate these lands for navigable waters prior to the field survey work. Identifying these water bodies enables the State to assert ownership of lands beneath navigable waters so that the public will be ensured access to these state lands. Once a survey is approved by BLM and DNR survey sections it is considered a final action and makes any future changes difficult.