Alaska's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released a draft Yukon Tanana Area Plan covering 9 million acres of land. The plan will direct how DNR will manage state lands within the planning area. The last land use plan covering this area was developed in 1985 and partially revised in 1991.
Since the original plan was developed, the amount of state land in the area has declined significantly - particularly in populated areas along the Parks, Elliot and Dalton Highways - as a result of state land being conveyed to local governments, native corporations, the Mental Health Trust, the University of Alaska, and to private parties through land sales and settlements.
Highlights of the plan include:
- Recommended additions to the 1.8 million acre Tanana Valley State Forest to be managed as a "working forest" for timber harvest, recreation, and fish & wildlife habitat.
- Nearly 620,000 acres designated for "settlement" - seasonal and year-round residences and a limited amount of land for private commercial and industrial use. Settlement land disposals would be phased over the 20-year life of the plan.
- Oil and gas resources are likely, and coal resource potential is high, in the plan area. All of the lands covered by the plan are available for oil, gas and mineral development (unless specifically closed by legislation) following separate leasing and permitting processes set out in state law.
- The plan area includes two million acres of land that the state has selected, but which has not yet been conveyed to the state by the federal government. Fort Wainwright and Clear Air Force Station are included in these lands; those military reservations would only become state land if the military vacated the land.
- Recommended designation of a portion of the Nenana River as a State Recreation River and of portions of the Toklat Springs area as a Critical Habitat Area.
Public meetings on the plan will be held in August; dates have yet to be scheduled.