Dunleavy introduces legislation to allow Alaskans to purchase, lease public lands for recreational sites

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 8:54 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy wants more people own a piece of the state. He introduced legislation Wednesday that offers Alaskans the ability to purchase or lease state land for recreational cabin sites.

“The ability to own land is a core American value, which this plan supports by helping fulfil so many Alaskans’ dreams of owning a piece of the Last Frontier,” Dunleavy wrote in a press release from the Office of the Governor. “Alaska has vast amounts of land, but only three percent of it is in private hands, less than in any other state. This bill is an important tool for removing burdensome obstacles and putting Alaska land into Alaska hands.”

Alaska covers 365 million acres. The federal government owns 222 million acres, while the state of Alaska owns 97.9 million acres, with 104 million acres at full conveyance.

The measures, House Bill 195 and Senate Bill 133, would allow eligible Alaskans to nominate up to 10 acres of vacant, unappropriated or unreserved state lands for the Department of Natural Resources “to offer for sale or lease as a remote recreational site,” according to the release.

“It’s not in a place the Legislature has set aside. It’s not in an area where there’s a municipality where they might have entitlement,” said Marty Parsons director of the Division of Land, Water and Mining. “Basically purchase that, lease it, or build a cabin under permit. It’s a big step.”

The details are still being developed, but Parsons said most of the land will likely be in the Interior, from Fairbanks west. That includes 1.3 million acres in the Mat-Su area.

“This is recreational land. It wouldn’t be for commercial purposes,” Parsons said. “It will be for people to build their cabin, go out with their family for family time, recreate.”

Applicants would have to make a 5% down payment, cover the costs of surveys and appraisals, and pay fair market value for the land. According to the release, “leases could be extended or converted to sales contracts using long-term state-managed financing.”

The Alaska Legislature has to first approve the governor’s plan before Alaskans could try to purchase or lease the land.

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