About the Land Grant Initiative

Introduction

For years, the 污鱼社 has sought a remedy to our significant land grant deficit. The spending package passed by Congress at the end of 2022 included the , which finally created a process for us to receive those 360,000 acres of outstanding lands. Revenue from our land holdings funds important programs like UA Scholars, helping provide access to higher education for Alaskans throughout the state.

Our history: land grant university

Starting in the late 1880's the land grant system was created throughout the country so that working class people could obtain a higher education. In 1915, federal legislation granted land to the Territory of Alaska. However, through the process of statehood, only a small percentage of the federal grant lands were conveyed to the 污鱼社.

History

The 污鱼社 (UA) is a land-grant institution that was formally established by the Alaska Territorial Legislature as the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines in 1917. As a land-grant institution, UA was due to receive federal lands within Alaska as a way of providing long-term stable funding for public higher education. However, UA only received about 150,000 acres of its approximately 500,000-acre entitlement and continues to operate with a substantial deficit ever since (click here for more information on that deficit and the history of UA's land grants).

This deficit has long been seen as an issue with the . When drafting the Alaska Statehood Act, Congress incorporated UA's remaining land entitlement into the approximately 105,000,000 acres of lands granted to the State of Alaska () with the intent that the Alaska Legislature would complete UA's entitlement. Unfortunately, complicated legal matters prevented the State from conveying additional lands from of the State's entitlement to UA. The last attempt by the State to complete UA's entitlement was struck down by the Alaska Supreme Court on a constitutionality issue. Since all State remedies were exhausted, a federal solution was required.

2022 Land Grant Initiative

The first step towards remedying UA's land grant deficit was securing a way, consistent with the 污鱼社 Constitution, for the State and Federal Governments to fulfill the Alaska Statehood Act commitment to provide UA with the rest of its land grant. Thanks to the incredible work of Alaska's Congressional Delegation, and in particular Senator Lisa Murkowski, a federal bill was drafted that provides a mechanism for the U.S. to convey lands from Alaska's remaining statehood entitlement to UA. This bill, previously titled the 污鱼社 Fiscal Foundation Act, was incorporated into an end-of-2022 omnibus appropriations bill that was signed into law by President Biden (). This law provides UA four years to:

  • Identify and select 500,000 acres of State valid or top-filed general selection lands
  • Secure concurrence on its selections from the State

The law also directs the Secretary of the Interior to convey up to 360,000 acres of UA's 500,000 acres of selections; however, the law does not dictate when the lands are to be conveyed.

 

Who benefits?

The largest beneficiary of the proceeds from UA land holdings is the UA Scholars program, which awards $15,000 scholarships to the top ten percent of high school graduates in Alaska each year. The conveyance of outstanding lands will secure this important investment in Alaska's future.

Did you know?
  • The university received a smaller land grant for higher education than any other state except for Delaware.
  • Today, the UA Land team manages a blended portfolio 鈥 natural resource development, land sales, leases, and permits, and alternative revenue streams including conservation easements and a potential carbon sequestration program. Our plan for our final Land Grant parcels will be no different.
  • Currently, University landholdings total approximately 150,000 acres (including 12,000 acres for campuses and educational purposes).
Process

It is a multi-year process for the 360,000 acres to be identified, conveyed to the university, and even more time before the university will be able to monetize the lands selected. All outstanding Land Grant selections must be selected from federal lands that are part of the State of Alaska's remaining general selections. Any development activity on UA land holdings (either current or future) will have an accompanying public notice. The University has until December 2026 to submit its selections to the federal government.

 
Graphic showing the process to fulling the university's 2022 Land Grant Initiative.  Step 1: The university identifies potential federal land and submits request to the state.  Step 2: The state issues a public notice and then a decision.  Step 3: The land selections fo to the federal government for final conveyance to the university.

 

Steps of the 2022 Land Grant Initiative

Now that a federal mechanism which promises to remedy UA's land grant deficit is in place, the UA must select 500,000 acres of land from the State's remaining general selections. This selection process is complex - requiring thorough research of State and Federal records - but can be generalized into the following three steps.

Step 1:
  • UA Land Management (UALM) identifies proposed selections
    • UALM relies on multiple datasets to review millions of acres of lands to identify lands which may suit its management portfolio;
    • Proposed selections are reviewed for:
      • Potential issues with state and federal agencies;
      • Whether the lands can be selected by UA;
      • Potential sources of contamination;
      • Culturally significant resources;
      • Many more metrics.
Step: 2:
  • UALM submits the proposed selections to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land and Water (DMLW) and state adjudication begins;
    • DMLW seeks input from various state agencies;
    • DMLW solicits public comment on the identified lands;
    • DMLW issues a decision on whether or not to support the University's proposed selection.
Step 3:
  • The University issues a letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) informing them of the selection and the State issues a letter to the BLM informing the BLM that the State concurs with UA's selection and of the State's conditional relinquishment in favor of UA's selection.
  • BLM adjudicates the selection in preparation for conveyance to UA;
    • If the selection is already surveyed, then BLM may directly issue a Patent;
    • If the selection needs surveyed, then the BLM may issue a Tentative Approval;
    • Tentative Approvals will be followed up by a Patent once the selection is surveyed.

UALM is currently working to identify 500,000 acres of lands and secure State concurrence before the December 29, 2026 selection deadline. Although UA will select 500,000 acres, UA can only receive 360,000 acres from the Secretary of the Interior. This idea of selecting additional lands over the total amount of what can actually be conveyed is called over selecting. It is important for UA to over select so that UA can ensure it will receive the total 360,000 acres of lands even if some of its selections cannot be conveyed. It is hard to know when the first conveyance of land from the 2022 Land Grant Initiative will occur, but it will likely take several years following this deadline.

 

We want to hear from you

We are committed to listening to all who have an interest in our final Land Grant initiative and potential selections. We know that all lands in Alaska have significant value to many community members, and for Indigenous communities, that includes sacred connections. We respect and honor all of these perspectives, and are committed to open dialog and proactive outreach throughout the process. We welcome your input; please reach out to us anytime through the contact info at the bottom of this page.