SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Governor Murkowski Defends National Park Inholders
Right to Access Under ANILCA Provisions


May 31, 2006

Governor Frank H. Murkowski on Tuesday submitted comments to the National Park Service, defending the rights of park inholders to access their properties across park lands as guaranteed by section 1110(b) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. Murkowski has a long history of fighting for inholder rights, both as governor and during his 22 years in the U.S. Senate.




The Park Service is currently in the process of adopting a "User's Guide to Accessing Inholdings in a National Park Service Area in Alaska." The governor's 5-page letter to Marcia Blaszak, Alaska Regional Director of the National Park Service, covers numerous issues of concern to Alaskans who own parcels of land and/or homes within the boundaries of NPS-managed parks, preserves and other conservation system units.

Murkowski asserted to Blaszak that the present draft, although improved over the first, "falls short of appropriately recognizing the inholder access guarantee provided in section 1110(b) of ANILCA. In addition, the process to define and document the access appears to lack sufficient long-term stability to assure individual landowners and other valid occupants they indeed have the access promised to them by ANILCA."

Murkowski suggested the Park Service should introduce its guide by articulating ANILCA's fundamental intent regarding access. This includes:

  • Section 1110(b) of ANILCA is an access guarantee in perpetuity;
  • A landowner's right of access is not subject to Park Service discretion, even though inholders need to work with the Park Service to mutually define and document how the access is implemented;
  • Landowners do not need Park Service permission to transfer their property; and
  • Authorizations granted under 1110(b) do not affect the validity of other access rights available under other authorities.

Murkowski also listed a number of major issues still needing to be addressed in the guide. These include defining what type of authorization is appropriate, warning that it should not be a "permit," because that implies the Park Service is granting a privilege, rather than acknowledging a right. He also recommended the authorization of easements that could attach to the land, or designation of park roads, and that the Park Service use a simple application form to document the access.

Other issues touched on by the governor include: limiting the discretion of the Park Service to modify existing authorizations; clarifying that access rights may not be revoked, and that sale or transfer of property may not curtail the future access of a new owner; and for existing access, avoiding burdensome paperwork through use of categorical exclusions and making the fee waiver permanent.

Murkowski indicated that his administration is ready and willing to work with the Park Service on inholder issues remaining to be resolved.

In his letter, Murkowski encouraged the Park Service "to explicitly acknowledge that park residents and communities within parks are an important part of the fabric and heritage of Alaska's national parks. In light of historic efforts by the National Park Service to eliminate inholders from parks in the 'lower 48,' Alaskans need assurances that the Service honors ANILCA's intent to minimize impacts on Alaskans."



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Office of the Governor

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Ketchikan, Alaska