Homesteading in Alaska: A Thing of the Past

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Beautiful, unreserved lands in Alaska were not for sale in 1975.

Questions about homesteading in Alaska were put to rest after a MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader asked the federal government about public lands in Alaska.

For many land-hungry homesteaders, Alaska has always been the “last frontier”: the one area where public tracts (or so the rumor had it) were still available for settlement. No longer! E.R. Flicker of Dearborn, Mich. recently sent an inquiry to the Bureau of Land Management and received the following answer, which we’re printing in full to save other would-be settlers the trouble of writing Washington. Sad though the news may be, we’re grateful to E.R. for passing it on . . . and we urge all our readers to share current information that may help others in their search for property. 


ASO 2567-9A

No Federal lands in Alaska are open to homesteading.

Homesteading in Alaska is definitely a thing of the past. Public Land Order 5418, which became effective in late March 1974, withdrew the remaining “unreserved public land” in Alaska‚ closing it to homesteading and other types of settlement under the public land laws.

The land order placed the land in a category called “classification and public interest.” Under this classification, the lands will be studied to see what future management should be. In the meantime‚ no homesteading‚ homesites‚ headquarters sites‚ or trade and manufacturing sites will be allowed‚ since these activities might conflict with long-term uses identified as the lands are studied. After studies are completed‚ much more will be known about the suitability of these and other lands for various uses.

Any attempt to homestead or settle on withdrawn lands is trespass. Trespassers risk court action which may lead to fines‚ eviction‚ and loss of any improvements made on the land.

It is possible that sometime in the future some areas of Alaska will again be classified to permit certain settlement-type uses of the land. If and when this happens‚ it would be in areas where people will have the best chance of success‚ by knowing that the land is definitely suited for the things they plan to do.

At present the Federal Government has no lands for sale in Alaska‚ and it cannot be anticipated at this time when or if any sales will be planned.

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