Land Use Planning

Map of Planning Areas Map of Planning Area

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INTRODUCTION

How Should Alaska Manage Its Land?
When Alaska became a state in 1959, it was granted over 100 million acres of land. The citizens of Alaska became the owners of an area the size of the state of California. At statehood, the Alaska Legislature charged the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with the complex job of managing the state-owned lands for the "maximum public benefit." The range of possibilities for how state land could be used is vast.

Within the DNR, the Resource Assessment & Development Section of the Division of Mining, Land and Water has primary responsibility for land use planning. Planning is a way of sorting through the possibilities for using state land and choosing those with the greatest benefits for all Alaskans. Most importantly, planning is a way of making these decisions not only for the public, but with them. The planning process provides a link between the citizens and the agencies charged with managing their land. There are statutory requirements for planning as well. AS 38.04.065 requires that state land be classified through a planning process prior to a sale or lease (excluding oil and gas lease sales and staking of mining claims).

Developing plans for state land is not easy because people have differing ideas of how state land can best be used. Also, not all desired uses of state land can occur compatibly in the same place at the same time. Through resource planning, DNR works with the public to determine where the important resources are and how the land can be used for the maximum public benefit. In the planning process all resources are considered and evaluated. Wherever possible, guidelines are established that allow for multiple use. Where irreconcilable conflicts exist, alternatives are developed and evaluated.

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TYPES OF PLANS

Area Plans

  • Usually covers large areas (one planning area encompassed 19 million acres of state owned land), but are also developed for areas of 250,000 acres;
  • Establish goals, policies, management intent, and guidelines for the use of state land;
  • Allocate the use of state land through plan designations;
  • Include recommendations to retain or sell land, open or close areas to mineral entry, establish selection priorities or special land use designations, recommend legislative designations, and;
  • Take two to three years to prepare.

Management Plans

  • Provide more detailed guidance for special areas (like recreation river corridors) or for a specific resource (like forestry), and;
  • Take one to two years to complete.

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PLANS CURRENTLY UNDER DEVELOPMENT

Chugach State Park Management Plan (Plan Revision by DPOR)
This planning effort, initiated in 2008 will revise the current 1980 plan. The revised plan will provide management guidelines and recommendations for facility development. As part of this effort a trail plan and access plan are also being developed.

Kachemak Bay State Park and Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park
In November 2013, the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation initiated a planning effort to revise the 1995 management plan and create a trail plan for the parks. The management plan will set forth management guidelines and make recommendations for the development of recreational facilities within the parks, and the trail plan will provide specific guidance for trail management and development.

Nancy Lakes State Recreation Area Management Plan (Plan Revision)
The Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation has initiated a planning effort to revise the 1983 NLSRA plan. The revised plan will provide management guidelines and recommendations for facility development within NLSRA and will identify opportunities to enhance recreational opportunities and access.

Tanana Basin Area Plan (Plan Revision)
This plan was adopted in 1985 and updated in 1991. This plan covers 14.5 million acres of state land in the Tanana Valley, including the Fairbanks area. This plan includes the Goodpaster River amendment, completed in 1991. The planning area was divided in half and will now be addressed as two plans, the Yukon Tanana Area Plan and the Eastern Tanana Area Plan.

FUTURE PLANNING PROJECTS

Many of the plans for state land are over ten-years old and need revision to address such issues as changing economies, new public use patterns, development proposals and selection of lands by newly created municipalities. Planning projects under consideration include the revision of the Susitna Recreation River Management Plan, or Prince William Sound Area Plan.

ADOPTED PLANS

Area Plans

Bristol Bay Area Plan
Adopted April 2005 and comprehensively revised in 2013. The plan boundary covers 19 million acres of state lands, both uplands and tidelands. The state is the predominant land owner within this area, although there are substantial holdings of native and federal land. The associated 1990 Nushagak and Mulchatna Rivers Recreation Management Plan was revised and adopted in April 2005, but was not revised in 2013 since the patterns of recreation use had not changed dramatically since 2005. The Bristol Bay Area Plan (BBAP) was revised in 2013 to reflect better information on public recreation, habitats, and mineral occurrences. It substantially increased the amount of state uplands designated Habitat and Public Recreation and decreased the amount of land designated General Use and Minerals -- compared to the 2005 BBAP.

Central/Southern Southeast Area Plan
Adopted November 2000. Includes 3.3 million acres of state tidelands and submerged lands and 160,000 acres of uplands. The planning area extends from Cape Fanshaw (North of Petersburg) south and east to the Canadian border, excluding Prince of Wales Island.

Copper River Basin Area Plan
Adopted November 1986. Covers 3.3 million acres of state land in the Copper River drainage.

Juneau State Land Plan
Adopted January 1993. Covers 26,000 acres of state uplands and 400,000 acres of state tidelands within the City and Borough of Juneau, and proposed annexation area on Admiralty Island.

Kenai Area Plan
Adopted in January 2000. This plan addresses 2.1 million acres of state uplands within the Kenai Peninsula Borough and 2.6 million acres of state owned tidelands and submerged lands along the Outer Kenai Peninsula and in Cook Inlet. Policies for state land in the Caribou Hills were adopted in April 1993 and revised in January 2000.

Kodiak Area Plan
Adopted in 2004. This plan addressed state-owned uplands, shorelands, tidelands and submerged lands in the Kodiak Island Borough.

Kuskokwim Area Plan
Adopted March 1988. Covers 16 million acres of state land in the middle and upper Kuskokwim River drainage.

Northern Southeast Area Plan
Adopted in October 2002. This plan includes state tidelands, submerged lands and uplands from Glacier Bay south to Prince of Wales Island, including Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof islands. The planning process revised the original Haines-Skagway Area Land Use Plan, Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Management Plan and the Haines State Forest Management Plan.

Northwest Area Plan
Adopted October 2008, this revision of the 1989 area plan encompassed 19 million acres of state-owned and state-selected land in the northwest corner of the state.

Prince of Wales Island Area Plan
Originally adopted in 1983 and extensively revised in 1998, this plan covers about 70,000 acres of state-owned and state-selected land throughout Prince of Wales Island. In 2008, the plan for the southwest area of the island was revised and incorporated into the Prince of Wales Island Area Plan as an Amendment.

Prince of Wales Island Area Plan Amendment
(Inclusion of the Southwest Prince of Wales Island Area)
Adopted in May 2008. The Amendment incorporates the revised southwest area into the 1998 Prince of Wales Island Area Plan. The plan Amendment covers more than one-million acres of state land mainly consisting of tidelands and submerged lands.

Prince William Sound Area Plan
Adopted June 1988. This plan is for 850,000 acres of state uplands and most of the 3.8 million acres of tidelands and submerged lands in Prince William Sound.

Southeast Susitna Area Plan
Adopted April 2008. Covers 250,000 acres of state land. This plan supercedes the Willow Sub-Basin Area Plan, Kashwitna Management Plan, Deception Creek Land Use Plan, and a portion of the Susitna Area Plan.

Susitna Area Plan
Adopted April 1985. Covers 9.5 million acres of state land. The Susitna Matanuska Area Plan and Southeast Susitna Area Plan supersedes the majority of this plan. However, State land around the Denali Highway and Lake Louise are still guided by this plan.

Susitna Matanuska Area Plan
Adopted August 2011, this plan covers 9 million acres of state land and revises most of the land contained in the 1985 Susitna Area Plan.

Tanana Basin Area Plan
(to be revised by the Yukon Tanana Area Plan and the Eastern Tanana Area Plan)
Adopted in 1983 and partially revised in 1991. This plan encompasses 14.5 million acres of state owned land and 1.7 million acres of federal land selected for conveyance to the state. Note that Tanana Valley State Forest Management Plan covers the state forest, although this plan must be consistent with certain components of the area plan.

Upper Yukon Area Plan
Adopted in February 2003. Includes state lands near Eagle, along the Taylor Highway, and in the Fortymile River region. The planning area covers roughly 2.5 million acres of state land, and about 1.5 million acres of state-selected land.

Yakataga Area Plan
Adopted in 1995, this plan addresses approximately 451,000 acres of state uplands, plus tidelands and submerged lands totaling 933,000 acres along the Gulf of Alaska and Icy and Yakutat bays. After the plan was adopted, the municipal entitlement to the City and Borough of Yakutat was increased to 21,500 acres. The plan underwent an amendment in 2004 in order to identify a pool of land that could be conveyed to the city and borough.

Yukon Tanana Area Plan
The Yukon Tanana Area Plan was adopted in 2014, and replaced the western portion the 1991 Tanana Basin Area Plan, essentially the area west of Fairbanks and west of the Parks Highway. There are about 10 million acres of uplands within the plan boundary of which there is over nine million acres of state land, of which about 810,000 acres consists of state land that is designated as a Legislatively Designated Area (a state park would be an example) and the remainder of state general domain land. The YTAP covers the uplands and shorelands of this general domain land. Within the plan area there are over 2.2 million acres allocated for the use for agriculture, forestry, settlement, or coal and mineral development, while the remainder of state land was allocated to habitat or public recreation (3.4 million) or to general use (2.4 million), a multiple use land category which is not anticipated to experience development during the planning period.

Management Plans

Dalton Highway Master Plan
A plan for economic development, public safety, and natural resource management along the Dalton Highway, completed in 1998.

Denali to Wrangell - St. Elias
An inventory of visual and recreational resources along the Denali, Richardson and Edgerton highways between Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks. Includes management recommendations, completed in 1982.

Fish Creek Management Plan
Adopted June 2010, this plan is a joint effort with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The planning area encompasses 43,302 acres of land; over 14,000 acres of that land are owned and managed by the state.

Hatcher Pass Management Plan
Adopted November 2010, this plan provides management guidelines for recreation, mining, and habitat in the Hatcher Pass area. The plan also provides management guidelines for Matanuska-Susitna Borough land in the Government Peak Management Unit.

Knik River Public Use Area Management Plan
The Knik River Public Use Area was legislatively designated in 2006 and encompasses approximately 260,000 acres.

Matanuska Valley Moose Range Management Plan
Access, habitat management and mining are concerns, completed in 1986.

North Access Visitor Facilities Study
A cooperative study between the National Park Service and DNR exploring options for campgrounds, trails and visitor facilities on the north side of Denali National Park. Completed in 2004.

Nushagak and Mulchatna Rivers Recreation Management Plan
Guidelines for recreation use on the Nushagak and Mulchatna rivers within the Bristol Bay region. A component of the Bristol Bay Area Plan, revised in 2005.

Scenic Resources Along the Parks Highway
An inventory of visual resources along the George Parks Highway, and management recommendations. Completed in 1981.

Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan
A plan for six rivers, completed in 1991.

Susitna Forest Guidelines
Guidelines for forest management and timber access, completed in 1991.

Turnagain Arm Management Plan
Adopted October 1994. Includes over 23,000 acres of state selected land in Girdwood and Bear Valley, and 25,000 acres of tidelands and submerged lands in Turnagain Arm. This plan was coordinated with planning for the Municipality of Anchorage's Girdwood Area Plan.

State Park and State Forest Management Plans

The DNR Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation has prepared land use plans for all of the larger units of the State Park System. In recent years, several State Park and State Forest plans have undergone revision. The Kenai River Management Plan was first completed in 1986 and was completely revised in 1997. A management plan for Wood-Tikchik State Park, first completed in 1987, was revised in October 2002. A management plan for the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve originally completed in 1985 was revised in October 2002. A management plan for the Chena River Recreation Area was developed in 1984 and amended in 2006. The Denali State Park Management Plan first adopted in 1989 was revised in 2006. A management plan for Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park was completed in 2006.  http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/plans/softcopy.htm

A management plan for the Tanana Valley State Forest, prepared by the Division of Forestry, was originally adopted in 1988 and underwent a complete revision in 2001. The Haines State Forest Management Plan was originally completed in 1986 and was completely revised in 2002. As a component of all these management plans, regulations were developed during or shortly after plan adoption to ensure implementation. http://www.forestry.alaska.gov/stateforests.htm

State Critical Habitat Area, Refuge & Sanctuary plans
The Department of Fish and Game prepares land use plans for these areas, in consultation with the Department of Natural Resources. Planning processes for the McNeil River State Game Refuge and Sanctuary as well as the Izembek State Game Refuge are currently underway.

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PLANNING PROCESS

STEP 1 - Identify Issues
Hold public meetings to identify issues and concerns in the planning area.

STEP 2 - Gather Information
Throughout the planning process collect information about natural resources, present and past land use, land ownership, and the local economy.

STEP 3 - Prepare and Evaluate Land Use Alternatives
Describe possible choices for managing state land based on public interests, local resources, and state policies. Describe the effects of each choice on goals for the management of an area.

STEP 4 - Prepare Draft Plan
Create a draft plan that reflects resource values and public and agency goals. The agencies review the first draft and settle any land use conflicts that remain, or propose the best alternatives for public review.

STEP 5 - Public Review of Draft Plan
Hold public meetings to provide the public an opportunity to comment on the draft plan and to identify parts that need to be changed.

STEP 6 - Prepare Final Plan
Review agency and public comments and revise the plan. Prepare the plan for publication.

STEP 7 - Approve Plan
The Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources approves and signs the plan.

STEP 8 - Implement Plan
The plan guides management decisions for state lands in the planning area.

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WHERE TO GET PLANS

Almost all the plans listed above can be viewed in this Resource Assessment and Development Section web site.

Plans in print can also be purchased at the DNR Public Information Center at 550 W. 7th Ave, Suite 1260, Anchorage or at the DNR Division of Mining, Land, and Water regional offices in Fairbanks and Juneau. For a list of the plans in print and a price list, click here.

Plans developed by the DNR Division of Parks can be viewed at their web site at: www.dnr.alaska.gov/parks/plans

Plans developed by the Division of Forestry can be viewed at: http://www.forestry.alaska.gov/resources.htm

For more information on plans for state lands contact:

Department of Natural Resources
Division of Mining, Land & Water
Resource Assessment & Development Section

550 West 7th Ave., Suite 1050
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-8534
fax: 269-8915

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