Sen. Murkowski Announces Agreement on Public Lands Package

Result of Weeks of Negotiation Will Substantially Benefit Alaska, Western States

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today announced a bipartisan and bicameral agreement to advance a package of lands bills focused on expanding economic opportunities in Alaska and other Western states and will be included within the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The joint agreement on the package will support job creation and economic growth through a balanced approach to improving public lands management, natural resource development, and conservation, while fully protecting private property rights and recreational interests. 

“I am pleased that after weeks of negotiations, we have reached a bipartisan and bicameral agreement to advance this series of public lands bills,” Murkowski said. “We have worked hard to develop a balanced package that will increase resource production and provide new economic opportunities for western communities.”

Murkowski highlighted several provisions in the package that will benefit Alaska.

“This package includes important provisions that will boost communities throughout our state, including the settlement and finalization of lands issues in Southeast Alaska, the conveyances of land for community development in Anchorage, and at Fort Wainwright,” Murkowski said.   

Additional Highlights:

Expands Access to American Energy and Minerals

  • Extends and expands nationwide the successful Bureau of Land Management permit streamlining program to increase oil and gas production from federal lands;
  • Facilitates several proposed mineral development projects, including the third-largest undeveloped copper resource in the world; and
  • Provides federal land management agencies with needed authorities to efficiently renew and process grazing permits and leases on more than 200 million acres of public rangeland.

Balances Conservation with Federal Land Conveyances

  • Provides more than 110,000 acres of land to be conveyed out of federal ownership for economic and community development, which will in turn create good-paying jobs and new opportunities for thousands of Americans;
  • Provides new means of enhancing private funding for parks;
  • Designates a limited number of new park units, all of which have strong local support;
  • Creates 245,000 acres of new wilderness areas – nearly half of which were already being treated by federal land managers “as if” wilderness – in wilderness study or roadless areas; and
  • Releases more than 26,000 acres back to multiple-use designation.

Native American Interests

  • Settles Northern Cheyenne’s claims against the federal government for failing to take the subsurface estate under its reservation into trust;
  • Settles land claims for the Sealaska Native Corp.;
  • Conveys federal property to an Alaska Native village for economic development; and
  • Provides access and protection for cultural resources and traditional uses at Oak Flat and Apache Leap in Superior, Arizona.

Protects Private Property Rights

  • Ensures private property interests are fully protected in all special land designations;
  • Protects all private activities taking place outside of the special land designations;
  • Ensures no private property can be condemned, and prevents acquisitions through eminent domain; and
  • Prohibits buffer zones and protective perimeters.

All of the provisions within the package were subject to extensive consideration, debate, and refinement by the relevant committees of jurisdiction, including the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“This is the culmination of two years of effort by members on both sides of the aisle and from both chambers,” Murkowski said. “The balanced package we have developed is largely focused on unlocking the federal estate to bring economic prosperity and good-paying jobs to western states.”

Murkowski is the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s lead Republican member.