Provide for the appropriate use and management of Alaska's state owned land and water, aiming toward maximum use consistent with the public interest.
- Acquire land for the citizens of the State of Alaska.
- Defend and assert state ownership interests.
- Defend access to state land and water.
- Create plans to direct management of state land and water.
- Sell and transfer land into private and municipal ownership.
- Issue short and long term authorizations for use of state land and water.
- Provide regulatory oversight for water use, dam safety, unorganized borough platting review, and mine reclamation for entire state.
- Collect revenues from the use and disposal of state land and water.
- Provide active stewardship of state land and water.
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|A: Result - Acquire state land entitlement, defend and plan for use of state land.|
|A1: Core Service - Acquire land for the citizens of the State of Alaska.|
Target #1: Acquire land or land interests for conservation, development, or agency needs through land exchanges, direct or indirect purchases, donations, escheatment, and foreclosures.
Acres of OSL & LSH Lands Received
Analysis of results and challenges: The Realty Services Section (RSS) acquires land through purchase, donation, or exchange for all state agencies that are unable to hold title. This is a critical service to the state because only a limited number of state agencies have the authority to hold title to real property. The RSS also processes the transfer of management authority to the appropriate state agency. Due to the complex nature of these acquisitions, each one must be handled as a unique challenge. By performing due diligence and ensuring clear title, RSS reduces the risk of acquired liabilities, such as site contamination, clouds on title, or unnecessary deed restrictions. Work on these projects typically crosses into multiple fiscal years.
EVOS: OSL 1628, OSL 1631
Agency Need: OSL 1629, LSH 651, LSH 652
Land Exchange: OSL 1630
Other: OSL 1634
FY2020 Active Acquisitions
EVOS: 4 parcels
Agency Need: 6 parcels
|A2: Core Service - Defend and assert state ownership interests.|
Target #1: Provide title reports as requested for parcels of state land proposed for land sales, land lease, timber sales, Native Allotments reconveyances, and other development activities.
Number of Title Reports
Analysis of results and challenges: The Realty Services Section (RSS) received 799 title report requests and completed 750 title reports in FY2019. Of those, 485 reports were for land disposal contract initiations, conveyances or subdivision development, 28 were for the Mental Health Trust Land Office, 23 were for Division of Oil and Gas for Lease Sales Administration and the State Pipeline Coordinators Office for North Slope Pipeline Lease Renewals. There were 214 reports covering various Regional Offices interests.
RSS continues to strive for efficiency to further increase the number of title reports produced, without sacrificing clean and equitable title.
|A3: Core Service - Defend access to state land and water.|
Target #1: Protect public access to State lands by ensuring that RS 2477s and ANCSA 17(b) easements are reserved on ANCSA and Native Allotment conveyances from the federal government.
Analysis of results and challenges: In FY2019, the Realty Services Section received and completed reviews for 46 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) related documents, one Emerged Island Determination, and 137 documents relating to Native Allotments. ANCSA related documents are reviewed to ensure public access is maintained through the reservation of RS 2477 trails and ANCSA 17(b) easements. They are also reviewed for potential emerged islands and protecting State ownership interests in navigable waterways. Much of the remaining ANCSA entitlement land is of high interest to Alaskans because it is near or accessed via the road system and affects access to state resources.
The documents received and reviewed for Native Allotments include 38 action items related to the reconveyance of erroneously conveyed lands that include preliminary decisions, final finding and decisions, settlement and release agreements, draft quitclaim deeds (QCDs), and final QCDs. This is the first time these action items are being reported as part of the Performance Measures.
Target #2: Initiate proceedings to clear state title to submerged lands through litigation, filing Recordable Disclaimer of Interest applications with the BLM and preparing state navigability determinations on at least 10 waterbodies during the fiscal year.
Analysis of results and challenges: RDI Process
During FY2019, BLM has had an enormous backlog of RDI applications from the Division of Mining, Land and Water (DMLW) from previous years. These include, but are not limited to, RDI applications that have been pending for almost a decade such as the RDI applications for the Arolik River System, the Goodnews River System and the Eek River System. Despite substantial pressure from DMLW, BLM made little progress on the backlog only issuing RDIs or nearly completing the federal administrative process on the following RDIs: the Kisaralik River and Lake; the Stikine River; Lake Becharof and Egegik River; and portions of the Fortymile River System. For the entirety of FY2019, DMLW, through LAW, engaged in federal mediation to improve the RDI process by lowering costs and speeding up the process to clear title to its submerged lands. Although optimistically commenced by DMLW, BLM and DOJ were unwilling to make any meaningful concessions, and the mediation was terminated during the early months of FY2020. During FY2019, DMLW filed four new RDI applications (Delta River, Kwethluk River, Denison Fork of the Fortymile River and West Fork of the Fortymile River) and has numerous other RDI applications waiting in the wings that will be filed soon. It was deemed prudent to defer filing additional RDI applications while the federal mediation process was ongoing in the hopes that a new RDI process would have been instituted that lowered or eliminated administrative costs to the state and set stricter rules for federal administrative processing.
During FY2019, DMLW initiated the litigation process against the United States Department of the Interior for 10 different rivers and lakes including, but not limited to, the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Fortymile River, the Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River, the South Fork of the Koyukuk River, the Dietrich River, the Bettles River, the Chisana River, the Nabesna River, Birch Creek, and Beaver Creek. Pending litigation was successfully concluded on two rivers when BLM and DOJ dismissed appeals in which federal district courts had determined the state to be the prevailing party and therefore entitled to recover its court costs from federal authorities. DMLW was also involved in one additional case against a private party concerning the ownership of submerged lands and the navigability of Fog Lake in the Lake Iliamna region. That case was concluded successfully for the state and the administrative actions of DMLW were affirmed. A remaining navigability case against a private party concerning the navigability of Lemon Creek in Juneau is ongoing.
State Navigability Determinations
During FY2019, DMLW issued six state navigability determinations to sister agencies facilitating needed state action in diverse areas. DMLW further undertook during FY2018 an ambitious project to streamline a process for determining the navigability of waters on a basin-by-basin, drainage-by-drainage, watershed-by-watershed basis. This so-called Navigability Metrics Project is ongoing in FY2019 and has involved extensive fieldwork and has the potential to be a gamechanger in state efforts to clear its title to submerged lands vis-a-vis the federal government.
Target #3: Take definitive steps through state administrative process or litigation to clarify state ownership interests, the existence or location of routes or status, scope and validity of at least 5 proposed or recognized RS 2477 rights-of-way.
Analysis of results and challenges: Litigation
During FY2019, DMLW was involved in litigation involving 9 RS 2477 rights-of-way. The litigation includes a Federal Quiet Title Act case against the United States Department of the Interior over numerous RS 2477 rights-of-way in proximity to Chicken, Alaska; state-court litigation involving Ahtna, Inc. over the widely used Klutina Lake Road; state-court litigation involving the Historic Iditarod Trail; and state-court litigation involving a RS 2477 right-of-way in the Teddy’s Fork area near Eagle. The Iditarod Trail litigation was successfully concluded for the state in which victory was achieved on all routes and the state was awarded its attorneys fees and costs. That decision was affirmed by the Alaska Supreme Court and provides meaningful judicial precedent for the state in future cases. Most issues in the Klutina Lake Road case were resolved by agreement of the parties in the trial court, but three contentious issues were preserved for resolution by the Alaska Supreme Court. Appellate proceedings in that case are ongoing. DMLW and LAW were successful in obtaining the dismissal of the litigation brought by a private litigant concerning the RS 2477 right-of-way in the Teddy’s Fork area. The litigation against the federal government in connection with the Chicken area RS 2477 rights-of-way is ongoing.
DMLW took administrative action involving three additional RS 2477 rights-of-way.
|A4: Core Service - Create plans to direct management of state land and water.|
Target #1: Continue work on plans that direct the management of state lands and waters, including the classification of land for settlement (for future municipal entitlements or land sales) or to support other forms of development (ag., forestry, mineral dev).
Analysis of results and challenges: Analysis of results and challenges: The North Slope Management Plan, affecting 12 million acres of uplands, is in progress and is expected to be ready for adoption in FY2020. A great deal of the land covered by that plan is expected to be classified in categories that support development. A revision of the Copper Basin Area Plan has been initiated.
The classification or reclassification of state lands that results from the adoption of plans varies significantly each year due to the length of time it takes to prepare land use plans, complexity of the issues raised and the public process. There are also often substantial differences in area plans between the acres classified for settlement or other disposal categories depending on the nature and resources of an area.
|B: Result - An adequate amount of state land is transferred into private ownership and to municipalities for settlement, recreation, development and other uses.|
Target #1: Sell 200 parcels of land per year.
Analysis of results and challenges: For FY2019, a total of 219 parcels were sold, totaling 2,193 acres. The results are a combination of the auction, year-round Over-the-Counter (OTC) sales, and Remote Recreation Cabin Sites (RRCS) program’s staking authorizations that made it to the purchase stage.
|B1: Core Service - Sell and transfer land into private and municipal ownership.|
Target #1: Provide Alaskans local governance and use of state land by transferring state land to municipalities under the Municipal Entitlement Act.
Analysis of results and challenges: In FY2019, the Mat-Su Borough received approximately 354.4 acres; the Haines Borough received approximately 788.5 acres; the Fairbanks North Star Borough received 33.388 acres, the North Slope Borough received approximately 1,303 acres and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough received approximately 355 acres. In total 2,834.561 acres were conveyed to these municipalities.
Target #2: Offer 200 parcels of land at auction.
Analysis of results and challenges: The annual sealed bid auction was held July 11, 2018, offering 191 parcels. Auction parcels are a mix of new subdivision lots and reoffers of previous sales.
NOTE: In calendar year 2013, the annual auction was moved from June, 2013 to July, 2014, which accounts for the fact that there was no auction in 2013. In addition, hundreds of "lost parcels" were found and offered in FY2012 and a special discount auction was offered in FY2014, accounting for the high parcel numbers in FY2012 and FY2014.
Target #3: Maintain an inventory of land available over-the-counter (OTC).
Analysis of results and challenges: The average number of OTC parcels, available through FY2019, was approximately 72 parcels.
NOTE: During FY2014, a majority of the parcels on OTC were removed and suspended due to access, wetlands, or other issues, leaving quality parcels online for purchase. The division\'s strategy is to maintain approximately 200 parcels on OTC. However, land sales through both the auction and OTC have remained steady, making it difficult to maintain this level of inventory on OTC.
|C: Result - Businesses, individuals and other entities obtain authorizations necessary for the environmentally sound use and development of state land and resources.|
Target #1: Eliminate backlogged applications that prevent lawful use of state land and resources.
Analysis of results and challenges: The legislature provided capital improvement project funding in FY2012 to assist the Division of Mining, Land and Water (DMLW) in developing a business process management system to eliminate the backlog of unprocessed applications. That funding expired at the end of FY2017 and DMLW transitioned to operating funds to finalize the development of the system. Throughout that process, DMLW has continued to work on the backlog. The further DMLW works into the backlog, there will be more cases worked that are more complex and time consuming. Additionally, loss or turnover in staff and necessary time spent recruiting and training new staff has contributed to the slowed rate of reduction. Thus, the initial rate of reduction has slowed down.
At the same time DMLW continues to make multiple efforts to improve efficiencies of processes to reduce cycle times and free up staff time that can be used to work the backlog and other land stewardship responsibilities. In FY2019, at least one staff position was approved via the final state budget for adjudication work in the DMLW Regional Land Offices. This position was filled in late FY2019, and specifically tasked to work on backlog reduction and related special projects. The dedication of this PCN to backlog work is expected to help with this backlog reduction in the coming years.
The backlog is representative of the number of complete applications received that have not proceeded to the point of issuance of an authorization that allows use of state land. In some cases, such as with easements and leases, the final issuance does not come until survey and appraisal have been completed. In those cases, businesses are often provided an entry authorization to allow construction to be completed before the final as built survey. Those cases with entry authorizations are not counted in the backlog.
|C1: Core Service - Issue short and long term authorizations for use of state land and water.|
Target #1: Process a minimum of 90% of new applications received.
Analysis of results and challenges: The numbers reflected in the chart as issued are not a direct subset of the new applications because some cases are issued from applications received in previous years.
A substantial amount of time has been spent working on the Information Technology Unified Permit project solutions to improve efficiencies in the long run. Staff time has also been diverted to work on complex cases that are resistant to solution, and politically sensitive cases which required significantly above average staff and manager time per case to bring to completion. Staff time has also been diverted to assistance on draft regulation and statute projects, and with policy and procedure development for implementation of new fee regulations which were adopted in July, 2018.
Not included in the above numbers are trespass cases which do not start with an application, but require the adjudicatory work. The numbers are not reflective of entry authorizations that allow applicants to use and construct on state land before final issuance of easements and leases.
Each new authorization issued creates a new workload of contract administration, assignments, amendments, name changes, sub-lease agreements, billing, monitoring, compliance and close out, all of which is not reflected in these numbers.
The division expects there to be more applications in future years as the state strives to bring in additional entitlement acres with high development potential each year and the division moves to improve tracking and resolution of previously unauthorized uses which could be legitimately permitted.
The division\'s stewardship responsibilities that do not involve issuing an authorization are constant. The substantial amount of time staff spends on these issues takes them away from their duties to process authorizations.
In general, many types of businesses received authorizations that allowed use of state land for financial gain. Authorizations in this component benefit utility, oil and gas, mining, commercial recreation, tourism, fishing, construction and other development industries by giving them legal access to the state owned and managed land, water and resources. If the division is not able to issue these authorizations in a timely manner, these same industries are adversely affected. Often businesses cannot plan their operations; get investment capital, insurance, or loans if they do not have required land authorizations.
Target #2: Process new water right applications within 12 months.
Analysis of results and challenges: Approving water use (via issued water right permits/certificates and issued temporary water use authorizations (TWUA)) is becoming more complex and contentious throughout Alaska, especially in high residential growth areas such as the Mat-Su Valley. Each year both managers and adjudicators spend more time dealing with the conflicts (both administratively and in connection with litigation) over water use, which reduces the overall number of applications that can be adjudicated.
The backlog of water right applications is being addressed (applications are selected for adjudication on the basis of an application’s provisional priority date and the complexity of an application), with an emphasis on processing applications for single family residence use. Newer water right applications are adjudicated on a consistent basis with the goal of issuing each application within 12 months.
An increase in the number of applications is due to an increase in oil & gas exploration and increased mining activity. Water Section staff must balance the need to process TWUA applications with water right applications. Processing of TWUA applications has a higher priority to ensure timely water use approvals so projects can begin the exploration and construction phases of the project activities in a timely and predictable manner. An emphasis has been placed on processing TWUA applications within 60 days with good success in FY2019. A number of applications were received this year with a requested turnaround of less than 30 days, causing re-prioritization of work. Staff are simultaneously keeping up with timely adjudicating new water right applications as well as addressing the long term backlogged water right applications, but any increase in the adjudication of long backlogged water right applications will increase median cycle times. These numbers will fluctuate until the backlog is eliminated.
|C2: Core Service - Provide regulatory oversight for water use, dam safety, unorganized borough platting review, and mine reclamation for entire state.|
Target #1: Maintain current periodic safety inspections on 60% of jurisdictional dams.
Analysis of results and challenges: In FY2019, periodic safety inspections occurred on 26 dams. The percentage of state-jurisdictional dams with current periodic safety inspections stands at 63%.
The Alaska dam safety regulations require the dam owner to hire a qualified engineer to conduct this inspection and submit a report to the state. In addition, the regulations require the State Dam Safety Engineer to review and approve the inspection reports for these dams. Because the inspection may occur in one fiscal year, and the report may not be submitted, reviewed and approved until the following fiscal year, the measure is based on the date of the visual inspection of the dam by the qualified engineer.
All jurisdictional dams are required to have a periodic safety inspection, but all dams are not inspected each year. The inspection interval is dependent on the hazard potential classification of the dam. Class I (high) and Class II (significant) hazard potential dams are typically inspected every three years. Class III (low) hazard potential dams are to be inspected every five years. This creates an inconsistent number of dams due for an inspection each year.
The percent of dams in compliance with periodic safety inspection requirements is a general measure of the cooperation of dam owners with the Alaska Dam Safety Program. The Dam Safety and Construction Unit promotes cooperation with the Alaska Dam Safety Program, while balancing enforcement of the dam safety regulations based on the apparent risk from a specific dam. Compliance in any given year is contingent on a number of factors including the dam owner's incentive, budget and schedule, as well as weather, project understanding and staff workload. The current goal is to maintain at least 60% compliance with periodic safety inspection requirements, and to ensure that no dams fail by identifying high risk factors for mitigation through the periodic safety inspection process.
Dam Safety Staff did a number of inspections for small community dams in order to help facilitate safe operation of those dams.
Target #2: Post 100% of new well data received on the WELTS data base web site.
Analysis of results and challenges: All of the 319 well logs received during FY2019 were uploaded to the Well Log Tracking System (WELTS) database, comprising 100% compliance with goals. In addition, 502 well logs from a 3,141 well log batch received from one company were also uploaded to WELTS. We continue to upload this batch of well logs with 24% (761 of 3,141) uploaded since FY2018.
The online WELTS is fully functional and has been enhanced to allow drillers to input well log data themselves, upon approval from DNR staff. As a result, an additional 256 well logs were uploaded directly by drillers to WELTS in FY2019, reducing DNR staff time spent on WELTS data entry. The database can be queried using a variety of parameters which has increased its functionality and usefulness.
Target #3: Conduct site inspections on all large mine projects.
Analysis of results and challenges: Large mines are authorized with many types of authorizations. The division begins authorizations and inspections during the exploration phase even before the mine is created. Throughout the life of a large mine, the division must inspect the mine operations to ensure that all stipulations are followed. To simplify for reporting the number of inspections shown are divided into those for advanced exploration and those for large mines that are permitted.
Inspections can be conducted by mining or water staff (inclusive of dam safety). The division has responsibilities over exploration permits, mine operations, water use, dam safety, and reclamation plan approvals.
Active large mines include Red Dog, Pogo, Fort Knox, Greens Creek, Kensington, Two Bull Ridge, Poker Flats Mine, Gold Run Pass, Jumbo Dome Road, Jumbo Dome Mine, and Wishbone Hill. Calder Mine (limestone/marble quarry) and Dawson Mine (underground gold mine) are not classified as large mines were also inspected in FY2019. The Gold Run Pass mine ended production in April, 2019 and is now being reclaimed. True North and Rock Creek (Nanuuq) are in a post-closure monitoring.
During FY2019, advanced exploration projects included Donlin, Palmer, Graphite One, Arctic/Bornite, Pebble, Dotson Ridge, Niblack, Avidian (Golden Zone), Healy Valley and Hoseanna-Emma Creek. Advanced exploration that were not active during FY2019 were not counted in this report. For this report, inspections of placer mines and smaller exploration projects were not included.
Target #4: Review plats for unorganized boroughs within the 45 day maximum review time limit per AS 40.15.305(d).
Analysis of results and challenges: As the platting authority for the unorganized boroughs, the survey section reviewed 66 survey plats and approved 25 survey plats. Similar to last year, the shortest time for a first review was nine days, the longest was 43, with an average review time of 22 days. For intermediate reviews, the shortest time was seven days, longest was 42, with an average review time of 21 days.
No plat exceeded the 45 day limit for maximum review time as described in AS 40.15.305(d).
|C3: Core Service - Collect revenues from the use and disposal of state land and water.|
Target #1: Generate $15 million in revenue from fees and sales.
Analysis of results and challenges: In FY2019, the division collected $18,329,611 in designated general fund (program receipt) revenues; $4,960,247 of this was from land sales and $3,311,030 was from material sales.
|D: Result - All state land is unencumbered by unauthorized use, contamination, or waste that makes it unavailable for other public use and development.|
Target #1: Reduce by 5% the total number of identified sites that are encumbered by hazardous waste, contamination, unauthorized use, and other material or appurtenances.
Analysis of results and challenges: The figures for identified sites are a compilation of various databases of encumbrances of state land and thus the numbers fluctuate somewhat. The sites reclaimed combine efforts from the land regions, general mining and the abandoned mine lands program.
The division has over 800 cases of unauthorized use, usually in the form of some structure that someone has built or equipment left without authorization from the division, or by conducting commercial operations on State lands without an authorization. Some cases involve unauthorized encroachment into or blockage of a public access easement, some involved unauthorized removal of gravel or other material. Some resolution of unauthorized use is reflected in the number of new authorizations issued, when previously unauthorized activity has been resolved with appropriate permitting, or without the need for permitting rather than separate documentation of a trespass case. During FY2019, our regional lands office actively resolved over 66 cases of unauthorized use or encumbrance of state lands through separate permitting actions or approvals.
DEC reported 213 open contaminated sites in the FY2019, GASB 49 report describing the state’s pollution liability for which they assert DNR has responsibility. Of those sites, 19 are managed by DNR-DMLW. To be included in the GASB report a site must have a minimum of $50,000 liability and no viable financially responsible party, leaving the State responsible for cleanup costs. DEC currently estimates DNR-DMLW’s liability for these sites to be around $20.6 million dollars. DMLW’s pollution liability reduced significantly due to the closure of the Juneau Rock Dump contaminated site. It should be noted that DNR disputes liability on the GASB 49 Report because the state is an involuntary owner of tide and submerged lands and is exempt from liability under 42 U.S.C. § 9601(20)(D) and/or (35)(A)(ii).
All of these things prevent further lawful use of state lands. Most will require some sort of contractual clean up. There is a wide variety of cost and complexity between projects. Some may be cleaned for less than $50,000 while others may cost millions of dollars.
|D1: Core Service - Provide active stewardship of state land and water.|
Target #1: 100% of required mineral reclamation for coal projects is accomplished without significant environmental problems.
Unabated Compliance Actions on Coal Reclamation Projects
Analysis of results and challenges: Analysis of results and challenges:
Notice of Violation: 1 Issued, 1 Abated, 1 Outstanding
Directive: 0 Issued, 0 Terminated, 1 Outstanding
The Coal Program issued one new Notice of Violations during FY2019. One outstanding Notice of Violation is a carry forward from FY2014 and is currently under appeal to the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources.
Changes in the use of directives resulted in no new directives since FY2014. Additional reclamation work is needed before final outstanding directive can be terminated in FY2020.
The coal program staff closely monitors coal reclamation projects to ensure that they meet strict stipulations and standards designed to protect the environment. DMLW inspects coal mining operations and can perform various levels of compliance actions. In severity from least severe to most, a Directive is a warning that tells the company how to fix the problem but allows operations to continue; a Notice of Violation is a monetary fine given when a company fails to meet the directive or there is immediate harm to the environment or public safety; and a Cessation Order stops operations and assesses a daily fine until the issue is resolved. DMLW has taken actions to mitigate or stop potential environmental damage in a way to least impact the commercial ventures, and most have been successfully abated. With the timing of the fiscal year, some directives or violations will be abated soon after they are issued, but will be reported in the subsequent fiscal year.
Current as of November 27, 2019