ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Bureau of Land Management today took the first steps toward dramatically accelerating the rate at which it transfers Federal lands to the State of Alaska. The agency will now use satellite-based navigation—a more advanced form of the technology that drives many smartphone applications—to help mark, define, and establish the boundaries of State lands. This innovation will fulfill the promise of the Alaska Statehood Act in half the time, save $60 million or more for the American taxpayer, and bring major new economic development opportunities to the state.
When it became a state in 1959, Alaska was guaranteed more than 100 million acres of land within the state’s boundaries. After nearly 60 years since statehood, roughly 40 percent of the land transfer remains unfinished. Completing the job using traditional methods, which have been largely unchanged since 1963, is projected to take at least two decades and cost taxpayers more than $120 million.
“Fulfilling the obligations of the Alaska Statehood Act is a priority for me and for the Bureau,” said Director Neil Kornze. “I asked the BLM team in Alaska if we could come up with a more efficient way to complete the land transfers that are owed to the state. The innovations the team brought forward—that we’re implementing today—ensure that the BLM is surveying land in ways that are faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective.
The BLM expects to cut the time and cost of the program in half. Using this updated approach will allow the BLM to complete the remaining land surveys in 10 years or less, provide the state with higher quality information, and save taxpayers $60 million or more, and it will give the State of Alaska major new economic opportunities in the process.
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