State Land Auction Includes Farm Tracts Near Nenana
A bridge and access road open up land for agricultural development west of Nenana.
A special agricultural land auction is added to the state’s standard annual sale of undeveloped tracts, in hopes of starting a new farming boom in the Interior.
Putting Down Roots
The sealed bid auctions began June 1 and continue through October 4. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will announce the apparent high bids on October 19.
The regular land auction includes 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.
“Alaskans feel a powerful connection with their land, and there is something special about owning a piece of property where you can put down roots, build a home, and build a life in our beautiful state,” says Governor Mike Dunleavy. “Land auctions are just one of the ways DNR helps implement my vision of putting Alaska land into Alaskans’ hands, and I encourage everyone to consider taking advantage of this opportunity.”
The Alaska Agricultural State Land Auction is offering just twenty-seven tracts in the Nenana-Totchaket area. A farming project in that area was planned decades ago but only became feasible after 2020 when the Nenana River was bridged and Doyon, Ltd. built a road, initially for oil and gas exploration.
Since then, DNR has been surveying the area to better understand the landscape and soils. Using this data, the department developed a thirty-year development plan for agricultural development. This summer’s sale covers 30,000 acres of the 140,000-acre project, with tracts ranging from 5 acres to 5,000 acres but mostly around 40 acres.
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.
Unlike previous state-led agricultural projects at Delta and Point Mackenzie, Division of Agriculture Director David Schade says landowners will have more flexibility to define “agricultural use,” with no rigid timelines for development.
However, terms of the purchase may require buyers to clear and till up to one-quarter of the acreage within five years. 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. The department also 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.”
Still, DNR touts the long summer days and warm Interior temperatures as attractive features for farming in the far north. “The Nenana-Totchaket Agricultural Project will be designed around the concepts of economic viability and environmental stewardship,” says Schade. “It is being developed with input from our stakeholders in federal, tribal, state, local, and private citizen groups. It is important to the development of new farmers and farms, which will bolster Alaska’s food security and the state’s economy.”
The division co-hosted Nenana Agriculture Education Day last week, offering prospective buyers tours of the area.
For more information, see the DNR web page about the Nenana-Totchaket Project or the rest of this summer’s land sales.