PUBLISHED: 2:34 PM on Wednesday, June 29, 2005
BLM takes comments on withdrawn lands
Until September 15, the Bureau of Land Management will accept comments from the public on whether withdrawn public land in Alaska should be open to entry under public land laws which includes mining and mineral leasing. Currently, millions of acres of federal land are withdrawn under public land orders for study and classification purposes. Although these lands are reviewed for opening under the current BLM planning process, its timeframes and schedules can be lengthy, and many stakeholders want a more expeditious process. In response, BLM has been asked to submit a report, due to Congress in 2006, recommending whether withdrawn lands can be open to entry.

Many of these withdrawn lands, referred to as d-1 withdrawals because the public land orders withdrawing these lands were authorized under Section 17(d)(1) of the Alaska Native Settlement Act, are selected by the State of Alaska or Native corporations and are included in other administrative or Congressional withdrawals. Even if withdrawals are lifted, selected lands will remain segregated until the land is conveyed or selections are relinquished. Some lands under study include national wildlife refuge, park and forest systems and conservation units that may have more restrictive or additional administrative procedures to follow before mining or leasing could occur.

The public can review maps depicting withdrawn lands at BLM offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kotzebue, Nome, and Juneau. A 90-day comment period ends on Sept. 15, and people are encouraged to visit the BLM offices to view maps of the withdrawn areas. Additional information and copies of the maps can be obtained by calling Dave Mushovic at (907) 271-3293 or Susan Lavin at 271-3826.

The report BLM is preparing is advisory in nature and no environmental analysis is required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The BLM will focus its recommendations on BLM managed lands, but will incorporate recommendations from other federal land management agencies into the report.