Recently, one of our readers informed us that the Bureau of
Land Management (an agency of the Department of the
Interior) was planning to open up a large tract of Alaskan
land under a homesteading-type program.
"Please tell folks
that there's free land to be had by those with the guts to
take it," urged the writer.
Well, friends, "guts" is the key word in that last
sentence. During December 1981 the BLM was to have made
available 10,000 acres in the heart of Alaska, in an effort
to encourage people to establish their homes and businesses
in the sparsely populated forty-ninth state. However, the
land is pretty rugged . . . and it would take a person with
well-honed survival and homesteading skills to make a
successful go on his or her claim. The land isn't entirely
free, either: It will cost a reasonable $2.50 an acre to
those who successfully fulfill the settlement requirements
and pay the filing fees necessary to obtain legal ownership
of the tract.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS asked a BLM representative what kind of environment a
would-be pioneer might face.
"The land is extremely
isolated, with minimal tree coverage, and there's no road
access," the spokesperson replied. "The settler would have
to have resources of considerable size to fly in — or
barge in — food and fuel supplies. Also, since the
acreage is in the state's interior, there's not much water
and there are negative temperatures much of the year. It'd
take a lot of effort."
Yet, in spite of the territory's drawbacks, the Alaska
Settlement Program does offer an experienced homesteader a
very attractive opportunity to obtain land for little more
than sweat equity. And — if there's enough public interest in
this initial offering — the BLM may open up other large
Alaskan tracts in a similar manner.
Here's a little general information on the property that's
currently available: The acreage is located north of Lake
Minchumina (the northern portions can be reached by
riverboat along the Kantishna River). Three types of claims
may be made: homesite, headquarters (generally used for
big-game guiding and trapping operations) and trade and
manufacturing (these claims may be used for businesses such
as roadhouses, lodges and recreation cabins, the production
of handcrafts for sale, and so forth). The maximum size of
the homesite and headquarters-site claims is five acres ...
while business claims may run as large as 80 acres. The
residency and/or improvement requirements for each of the
three types of claims vary, but in each case the land will
cost $2.50 an acre, once an applicant has met the necessary