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The State of Alaska as Landowner

Thomas E. Meacham, Alaska Mineral Development (1978)

It is obvious that Alaska is unique among the western public land states in the abundance of its state-owned land — a quantity which, when finally conveyed from the Federal Government to the State, will exceed in acreage the total land area of California, the second largest western state. This abundance is the result of congressional doubts in 1958 as to the economic viability of the fledging state, a concern which was manifested in the Alaska Statehood Act by a quantity land grant, replacing the usual formula of in-place federal land grants to newly-admitted states, such as the grant of designated school sections,1 and small quantity grants of land for internal improvements.2 The proposal extended to Alaska by Congress consisted of the following: (1) 102,550,000 acres of “vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved” lands from the federal public domain; (2) 400,000 acres of “vacant, unappropriated” federal lands from the Tongass and Chugach National Forests in Alaska, for community expansion, development and recreation purposes; (3) 400,000 acres from other public lands in Alaska which are “vacant, unappropriated, and unreserved”, for the purposes of community expansion, recreation and developments. All land grants were to be selected by the State within 25 years after its admission to the Union.3 Alaska accepted the federal offer, and on January 3, 1959 embarked on the sometimes-p