Substitute parcel program created for Alaska Native allottees
(Anchorage, AK) – The Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the Alaska Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are launching a new program intended to assist with the timely completion of Alaska Native allotment land claims that are pending on state lands.
The substitute parcel program developed by DNR and BLM focuses on assisting applicants whose allotments were hindered because the federal lands they applied for now belong to the State of Alaska. Those lands were conveyed to the State before the allotment claims were addressed, and some of the affected acreage has since been encumbered by state land sales, campgrounds, highways, and other improvements.
“This is an opportunity for the State of Alaska and BLM to finalize a long-standing promise made to the Alaska Native community,” said Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan. “The State of Alaska has a great interest and a responsibility to champion and help resolve land entitlement issues throughout the state.”
The Alaska Native allotment program was created by Congress in 1906 to enable eligible, individual Alaska Natives to acquire title to up to 160 acres of federal land in Alaska. Approximately 13,000 such allotments have been granted, with about 330 applications currently pending.
DNR is currently processing about 102 pending allotment claims on state lands. Under this program, all of the applicants whose original allotment applications meet the criteria set forth in a Memorandum of Agreement signed in July by the two agencies can request a substitute parcel.
The new program allows but does not require the affected applicants—or their heirs—to select a substitute parcel of land located on state-selected (not state-owned) land, preferably on lands near where their original request for an allotment was located. Applicants who elect not to go through the substitute parcel program can seek further adjudication of their original allotment with BLM.
The substitute parcel program includes a step-by-step process for qualified applicants and agencies to work together– starting with the selection of a substitute parcel and ending with the issuance of a Certificate of Allotment.
“This voluntary program was designed so that applicants whose original claims have become entangled in administrative and legal obstacles can receive their entitlement in a predictable timeframe,” Sullivan said.
By the end of September, the State will provide BLM with an updated map encompassing approximately 8 million acres of state-selected lands from which qualified applicants can choose a substitute parcel. In addition, training will be made available to the Bureau of Indian Affairs realty service providers who work closely with applicants on their allotment claims.
Applicants who would like to find out more about the substitute parcel program or have other questions concerning a pending application can contact the BLM at 907-271-5555.
To read the DNR-BLM memorandum that was the basis for implementing the substitute parcel program, go to http://dnr.alaska.gov/commis/priorities/allotment_MOA.pdf.
Posted: September 25, 2013