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An Introduction to Alaska

Richard J. Stenmark, Alaska Mineral Development (1978)



Alaska encompasses land and inland water areas of over 375 million acres and tide and offshore submerged lands encompassing some 37 million acres, most of which remains in its natural state. The State still has more square miles than people, and the majority of its estimated 400,000 residents are not widely diffused, as shown on the Population and Elevation map. Most live in two urban areas and the remainder live in widely scattered small villages and towns. The State's road network, while serving most of the population, extends through only a small portion of the State. Alaska's existing transportation network is shown on the Transportation map. Access to the rest of Alaska is by air or by water. Although there are producing oil and gas fields, commercial fishing, timber harvesting, and small-scale mining and farming, Alaska's natural resources are largely undeveloped.

Lands and waters whose allocation and management are yet to be determined are measured in millions of acres. They are located within the boundaries of a single state. The wildlife, wilderness, and scenic values they contain are expressed in superlatives—the highest mountains, the largest glaciers, the highest density waterfowl nesting areas. Often there is little detailed knowledge of the other resources which they may contain. Some wildlife for which thes