Did you know 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?
Did you know 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 Biden in late December creates an avenue for the university to gain around 360,000 acres of land. We are encouraged that being a land grant university without all its land is finally coming to an end.
This land will help the University of Alaska further meet its mission of teaching, research and workforce development for Alaska. However, there is still a long way to go before the 360,000 acres are identified, and conveyed and even more time before the university will be able to monetize the lands.
Income from UA’s lands has funded the highly successful UA Scholars Program, awarding $12,000 scholarships to the top 10 percent of graduates from each Alaska high school who attend UA. Since its inception, the scholarship program has awarded more than $70 million in academic support resulting in more than 7,000 degrees and certificates for students from nearly every community in Alaska. Land earnings have also supported teaching and research in natural resources, fisheries/ocean science, biology, agriculture, minerals, and education.
The framework calls for the university to work with the state Dept. of Natural Resources to jointly identify up to 500,000 acres of federal land to be conveyed to the state. It would require the Bureau of Land Management to survey the selection and work with UA to transfer up to 360,000 acres of state land to the university. The UA Lands office already has selected 200,000 acres and provided the selection to DNR for review. The acreage ultimately transferred to UA would be deducted from Alaska’s outstanding statehood lands entitlement and managed by the UA for the benefit of our students.
It has taken the dedicated work of many people to find a resolution to this long-standing deficit.
Senator Lisa Murkowski is responsible for this tremendous outcome. Thanks also go to Representative Mary Peltola and Governor Dunleavy for their leadership on this issue and Sen. Dan Sullivan for his support of the UA Fiscal Foundation Act.
Also significant was the bipartisan backing from Alaska businesses, organizations, and state leaders who advocated for this positive outcome.