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Governor Dunleavy Introduces State Lands Bill

Feb 19, 2020

Governor Mike Dunleavy today introduced his State Lands Bill to put Alaska lands in Alaskans’ hands. The legislation, SB 204 / HB 258, will remove barriers to private access and development of state lands, reducing the cost of developing lands, and eliminating the delay of projects.

“One resource Alaska has in abundance is its land, yet only 1% of that land is held privately by individuals. No other state has less land in private hands than Alaska. Through this legislation, we will help make Alaska more accessible to all by removing burdensome regulations that have made private land ownership unnecessarily challenging for years,” said Governor Dunleavy.  “This legislation is an essential piece in making the best use of our state land for all citizens and putting Alaska lands in Alaskans’ hands.”

“We at DNR know private land is the foundation of a private-sector economy, and we work hard to sell state land to Alaskans,” said Corri A. Feige, commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources. “By clarifying our responsibility for managing state land, creating new opportunities to lease or sell land for commercial development, ending ineffective recreation river classifications, and expanding our financial capacity, this bill gives my department the tools we need to do our job and meet the public’s expectations for making more land available for purchase.”

Key points of the State Lands Bill:

  • Subjects all state land managed by the Department of Natural Resources to DNR’s platting authority regardless of where the land is situated. This includes Mental Health Trust land, parks and recreation areas, refuges, and habitat areas.
  • Increases the Land Disposal Income Fund to $7.5 million, allowing DNR to focus more spending on infrastructure to develop and dispose of state lands.
  • Encourages economic growth by creating a new statute for leasing state lands for commercial or industrial development within Qualified Opportunity Zones or other areas nominated and assessed by the state.
  • Repeals unenforceable statutes relating to the designation of certain rivers in Southcentral Alaska as recreation rivers in order to allow for more effective management of state land and further increase acreage available for Land Sales program or new commercial development program.
  • Clarifies the state land sale bidding process by requiring an earnest money deposit, increasing the term of a contract for sale, and granting the state greater discretion in constructing access roads related to state land sales.