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Alaska Native land ownership

How outdoor recreationists can respect private land and avoid trespass problems.

Alaska today is a complex mix of public and private land ownership.  Navigating Alaska rivers or walking the backcountry for fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, or other outdoor activities involves more than just map reading: you will need to make sure you have permission to be on the land.

Alaska's largest private landowners are more than 240 village and regional corporations scattered over the entire state.  Click here for more information about these corporations and a map of their boundaries and the 1970's era Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that brought them about. This page will not give you all the detailed information you may need for a river or backcountry trip, but it will at least give you some helpful starting points in your quest for information.

EASEMENTS

An easement is a right or interest that permits a person specific limited use of another's land. It is reserved for specific uses and can only be used for the purpose defined. Section 17 (b) of ANCSA established easements for access to public land, across Native Corporation land. In some cases, Regional or Village Corporations may have a Settlement Agreement with the United States, and other easements may have also been reserved. Both 17 (b) and Settlement easements are reserved for specific uses and in specific locations. Using the easements for anything other than it's reserved purpose is considered trespass. Commercial activity may be restricted or not allowed on the easements without prior approval from servant corporation. Hunting and fishing are not permitted from or on 17 (b) or settlement easements.

Listed below are the most common types of easements encumbering Native lands and a description of the activities allowed on them. All are reserved in specific recorded locations and the visitors can find the location by contacting the corporation, the US Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Alaska or other administering Federal agency for the area. The BLM has compiled easement plats that can be picked up from their public offices.

Site Easement
A site easement is typically one acre in size and can be used for:
vehicle parking (e.g., aircraft, boats, all terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, cars, trucks), temporary camping, and loading or unloading. Temporary camping, loading, or unloading shall be limited to 24 hours.

Trail Easement
Trails are 25 feet in width and uses are: travel by foot, dogsleds, animals, snowmobiles, two and three wheel vehicles, and small all terrain vehicles (less than 3,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight).

Local Road Easement
60 feet in width and uses are: trail uses plus automobiles and trucks.

Regional Road Easement
100 feet in width and uses are: local road uses.

Airstrip Site
Aircraft landing plus uses allowed on a one acre site easement. Typically limited to 24 hours.

Some site easements and trail easements have been located and marked by the administering Federal agency, some have not. For further information on the location of marked easements, please contact the Bureau of Land Management or other administering Federal agency in the area of interest.

For more information about easements and their uses visit the Bureau of Land Management web site.  The Alaska Division of Mining, Land and Water also has information on easements.

Each Regional or Village Corporation creates their own land use policy concerning visits to their property. Some have decided not to allow hunting or fishing from their lands, others require a permit with fee, some a permit without a fee, and others may not require anything. Some may have one area closed while other areas open. The user must contact the individual landowner to understand their policies.

For a given area, you may be able to contact the regional corporation that covers the area and ask for information about village corporation contacts.  Following is a list of regional corporation websites.  Click here for a map of their approximate boundaries.

Ahtna (mostly upper Copper River)
Aleut
(Aleutian Islands, part of Alaska Peninsula)
Arctic Slope (Northern Alaska)  
Bering Straits (Western Alaska)
Bristol Bay (Bristol Bay)
 
Calista (Yukon Kuskokwim Delta) 
Chugach Alaska (Prince William Sound, Gulf of Alaska coast) 
Ciri (Cook Inlet Regional Inc.) 
Doyon (Interior Alaska)
 
Koniag (Kodiak Island area)
NANA (Northwest Alaska)

Sealaska (Southeast Alaska)

 

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