UA System Granted More Land
The University of Alaska is set to gain hundreds of thousands of acres of land as the result of a provision in the recently passed federal spending package. The new law signed by President Joe Biden in late December creates an avenue for the university to gain around 360,000 acres of land.
Taken for Granted
The framework calls for the university to work with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to jointly identify up to 500,000 acres of federal land to be conveyed to the state. It would require the US Bureau of Land Management to survey the selection and work with the UA System to transfer up to 360,000 acres of state land to the university’s land grant. The UA System lands office already has selected 200,000 acres and provided the selection to the state for review. The acreage ultimately transferred to the UA System would be deducted from Alaska’s outstanding statehood lands entitlement.
The UA System currently controls about 150,700 acres, or about 30 percent of the land grant that Congress intended. The conveyance has been tied up for decades due to language in the Alaska Constitution. To get around the conflict, Congress added the UA Fiscal Foundation Act as a rider to the omnibus spending bill.
Income from the UA System’s lands—as much as $8 million annually—has funded the UA Scholars Program, awarding $12,000 in scholarships to the top 10 percent of graduates from each Alaska high school who attend the university. Since its inception, the scholarship program has awarded more than $70 million in academic support. Land earnings have also supported teaching and research in natural resources, fisheries/ocean science, biology, agriculture, minerals, and education.
A statement from UA System President Pat Pitney thanks the Alaska Congressional delegation and Governor Mike Dunleavy for their help with the land grant.