More Than $1M Bid on Farm Tracts Near Nenana

Oct 25, 2022 | Agriculture, Government, News, Real Estate

Totchaket Agriculture

A bridge and access road open up land for agricultural development west of Nenana.

Alaska Department of Natural Resources

A special agricultural land auction near Nenana brought in more than $1 million in winning bids. The sale is the first phase of the state’s attempt to bring more farming to the 140,000-acre Nenana-Totchaket area.

Bidding for Bargains

The sealed bid auction began June 1. Bids received by October 4 were unsealed October 19.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says twenty-four of the twenty-seven tracts offered received bids; six of those had only one bidder. Average sale price was $569 per acre, with the largest tract (320 acres) selling for $107,000 and the smallest (22 acres) selling for $16,000. However, the lowest high bid was $13,000 for one tract of 32 acres. Combined, the land auction earned $1,019,856 from fifteen different bidders.

“The strong local and national interest with this auction confirms the conversations occurring for decades about the potential for farming in the Nenana region,” says acting Division of Agriculture Acting Director Mia Kirk.

Most of the winning bids came from individuals. One tract was sold to Golden Heart Rhodiola, and two tracts go to Native Movement, an Indigenous-rights and environmentalist nonprofit founded in Arctic Village.

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Unsold parcels left over from the auction will be available through the over-the-counter land sales program beginning November 2.

A farming project in the Nenana area was planned decades ago but only became feasible after 2020 when the Nenana River was bridged and Doyon, Limited built a road, initially for oil and gas exploration.

“The progress made today would not have been possible without the essential access that the Totchaket Road and New Nenana Bridge provided to farmers,” DNR Deputy Commissioner Brent Goodrum said at the bid opening. “As part of Governor Dunleavy’s Unlocking Alaska Initiative, this is a win/win for the people of Alaska who need affordable and sustainable food.”

The auction coincides with roadwork the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is developing to open up other parts of the Nenana-Totchaket area, including delivering Phase 3 Power.

Putting Down Roots

Totchaket Map

A map of tracts available near Nenana for State Land Auction #494. Eleven of the twenty-seven are adjacent to newly established roads; their neighbors are along platted rights-of-way.

Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Under terms of the sale, buyers must complete a State Farm Conservation Plan (reviewed by the local Soil & Water Conservation District and approved by the Division of Agriculture) before entering a contract to use the land. The department warns that, while the soils are suitable for crops, “the elevation, aspect, presence [of] permafrost and other physical conditions may limit crop selection and/or require special management techniques in developing the agricultural potential.” DNR says the sale patent will not be issued until the land is improved to farmable condition, which means removing wood cover and initial tilling. A perpetual covenant restricts the land to agricultural purposes and limits subdividing to no more than four parcels less than 40 acres each.

“One of my highest priorities for Alaskans is food security and independence, so we no longer have to import 95 percent of the food we eat,” says Governor Mike Dunleavy. “This project will continue to grow for generations and become a vital key to our agricultural industry and the state’s economy.”

The state’s regular land auction, unsealed on the same day, drew $3,304,949 in winning bids for 108 parcels statewide from eighty-seven bidders. Those tracts include 186 parcels throughout Southeast, Southcentral, and the Interior. Some are accessible by at least a gravel road, but most are remote tracts that can be reached only by airplane or trail.

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