U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, Rep. Don Young, and Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy, all R-Alaska, today released the following statement after the Department of the Interior issued new Public Land Orders (PLO) partially revoking a number of PLOs put in place in eastern interior Alaska in 1972. The Department also announced today it would partially revoke PLOs in place in the Bering Glacier area.
Joe Balash, the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the Department of the Interior, made the announcement and signed the PLO today alongside Gov. Dunleavy at the Resource Development Council’s annual luncheon in Anchorage, Alaska. The order will ultimately make up to one million acres of land available for selection by the State of Alaska and Doyon, an Alaska Native Corporation.
“I applaud Secretary Bernhardt and Assistant Secretary Balash for lifting these PLOs, which will help fulfill outstanding land entitlements in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “This new order will restore economic opportunities in the Fortymile area and, while we still have more work to do, it is a sign that the federal government is finally living up to the promises it has made to Alaskans.”
“Today’s announcement is a win for Alaskans and another example of the Trump administration moving Alaska forward as promised under federal law,” Sullivan said. “Thanks to Interior Secretary Bernhardt and Assistant Secretary Balash, locked-up areas in the Fortymile and Bering Glacier will now be open to hard-working Alaskans while fulfilling decades-old outstanding land selections.”
“The Obama Administration’s BLM violated the Statehood Act and ANILCA with an egregious land grab under the Fortymile plan. I have been working with the Trump Administration for two years to reverse this terrible decision and ensure that these lands are once again available for mining claims. Lifting this PLO – and the Bering Glacier plan – goes a long way toward reigning in the BLM’s overreach and restoring the multiple-use directive for our public lands. Alaskans are committed environmental stewards who can be trusted to simultaneously protect and responsibly develop their own lands. Simply put, the BLM’s job is not to lock up more land from development, and I applaud the administration for finally correcting this problem. I look forward to continuing to work with BLM leadership and the Alaska Delegation to ensure that Alaskans can continue to enjoy multiple-use land function for generations to come,” Young said.
“Today’s announcement, lifting a series of restrictions over nearly 1.3 million acres of public lands, represents major progress in Alaska’s pursuit to make good on the promises of statehood,” Dunleavy said. “Lifting this PLO, and others like it, will unlock lands and allow more options for fulfilling the state’s five million acres in outstanding land selections and further our mission to make Alaska open for business. I commend President Trump, Secretary Bernhardt, Assistant Secretary Joe Balash and all those that worked to make this a reality.”
In 2004, Congress enacted the Alaska Land Transfer Acceleration Act (ALTAA), which Murkowski introduced to require a review of “d-1” PLOs issued under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Most of these “d-1” PLOs closed or segregated lands from entry under all public land laws, including mining and mineral leasing laws. Both the review required in ALTAA and the recent revision of the Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan led to federal recommendations that these lands be opened for entry.
Today’s order will soon be published in the Federal Register. An estimated 90,000 acres of land will be opened for mineral entry 30 days later. Click here for more information on the order.