Today marks the one-year anniversary of what the U.S. Department of the Interior calls “the single most important public lands management law to be passed in over a decade.” U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sponsored and championed the broad, bipartisan package of more than 120 public lands, natural resources, and water bills. During negotiations, she ensured the historic legislation prioritized Alaskans’ interests.
“A year ago today marked the end of a regular order legislative process that showed what is possible when members of both parties are reasonable and work together to pass widely supported policies. Since then, a lot of hard work has gone into the implementation of the Dingell Act, and communities across America, particularly in the West, are benefiting,” Murkowski said. “I was also encouraged to hear from Secretary Bernhardt earlier this week that Interior is making good progress on identifying lands that will be available for selection by Alaska Native veterans who served in the Vietnam War. That measure is particularly close to my heart, and an equity that’s long overdue.”
The lands package included the following Alaska-specific provisions:
- Denali Improvement Act – Provided routing flexibility for the Alaska gasline project in Denali National Park and Preserve.
- Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act – Introduced by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, to ensure the federal government fulfilled its decades-old promise to provide allotments to Alaska Natives who served in the Vietnam War.
- National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring Act – Improved volcano-related capabilities to help keep communities and travelers safe.
- Sportsmen’s Act – Required federal agencies to expand and enhance sportsmen’s opportunities on federal lands; makes “open unless closed” the standard for access to Forest Service and BLM lands; and facilitates the construction and expansion of public shooting ranges, including ranges on Forest Service and BLM lands.
- Small Miner Relief Act – Provided relief to Alaska miners who lost their longstanding claims due to administrative errors or oversight.
- Kake Timber Parity Act – Repealed a statutory ban preventing the export of unprocessed logs harvested from lands conveyed to the Kake Tribal Corporation.
- Ukpeagvik Land Conveyance – Required the Department of the Interior to convey all right, title, and interest in the sand and gravel resources within and contiguous to the Barrow Gas Field to the Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation.
- Chugach Land Study Act – Required the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to conduct a study to identify the effects that federal land acquisitions have had on Chugach Alaska Corporation’s ability to develop its lands, and to identify options for a possible land exchange with the corporation.
- National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization Act – Renewed this program, which is run by the U.S. Geological Survey, for five years.
- Land and Water Conservation – Permanently reauthorized the collection and deposit functions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with key reforms to strengthen and provide parity for its state-side program.