Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration, with the help of Alaska officials, is trying to sell off or exploit vast portions of the state’s forests, wildlife refuges, and public lands in what would be one of the largest liquidations of public lands in U.S. history, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress.
This effort could result in the transfer, sale, or private exploitation of more than 28.3 million acres of public lands in the state. That includes old-growth forests, subsistence hunting areas for Alaska Native communities, habitats for polar bears, salmon spawning streams, and other backcountry areas. It would affect millions of acres in the Tongass National Forest and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge alone.
“In Alaska, the Trump Administration is trying to carry out one of the most brazen public land liquidation efforts in U.S. history,” said Jenny Rowland-Shea, senior policy analyst at CAP and co-author of the issue brief. “Instead of helping Alaska escape its budget troubles by building a sustainable and more diversified economy, this public land liquidation effort would sacrifice our nation’s largest old growth forests, valuable salmon fisheries, and some of the wildest places left on Earth.”
Any economic gains from liquidating public lands would be short lived and result in the exploitation and degradation of Alaska’s natural amenities and the economies that they support, including commercial fishing, outdoor recreation, and tourism, the issue brief says. It would also add to the climate crisis by selling carbon sinks to oil, mining, timber, and other industrial interests.
The liquidation effort further dismisses many dissenting perspectives among Alaska Native communities and delivers its main financial benefits to non-Alaskan and, in some cases, foreign corporations.
Read the issue brief: “A Vast Liquidation of Public Lands Is Underway in Alaska” by Jenny Rowland-Shea, Sung Chung, Sally Hardin, Matt Lee-Ashley, and Kate Kelly
For more information on this topic or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs or 202.478.6327.