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Alaska Natives Claims Settlement Act 17(b) Public Easements

Congress enacted the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in 1971 to settle Alaska Natives’ aboriginal land claims. As part of this settlement, Congress created Native corporations and granted these corporations the right to select and receive title to withdrawn public lands. However, prior to conveying selected Native corporation lands and to guarantee continued access to publicly owned lands, major waterways, other public uses specified in the regulations, or to guarantee international treaty obligations, Congress granted the Department of the Interior the authority to reserve necessary public easements. 43 U.S.C. § 1616(b); 43 C.F.R. § 2650.4-7

The Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management, reserves public easements after consultation with all appropriate Federal and State agencies, Natives and Native corporations and other interested parties. The Fish and Wildlife Service participates in the nomination of 17(b) public easements to ensure public access to lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 7, manages both 17(b) public easements within the exterior boundaries of the Alaskan refuges and those easements accessing the refuges. Administration may be transferred to another Federal, State of local government agency if the transfer is in the best interest of the United States, is otherwise authorized by law and the public will be guaranteed reasonably necessary public access.

The website for the Bureau of Land Management provides detailed information regarding the reservation of ANSCA 17(b) easements.


Last updated: April 7, 2010

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