Interior board rejects Alaska claim on 20,000 acres near ANWR

By Michael Doyle | 04/08/2024 04:16 PM EDT

Alaska has sought the acreage that is part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Caribou from the Porcupine Caribou Herd migrate.

Caribou can be seen on part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Fish and Wildlife Service/AP

An Interior Department panel has again rejected, in large part, a long-running claim by the state of Alaska that it’s owed roughly 20,000 acres currently considered to be part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Returning to a technical but important mapping dispute that has vexed officials for years, a two-judge panel of the the Interior Board of Land Appeals essentially upheld a Bureau of Land Management line drawing along ANWR’s northwestern boundary.

“At a high level, the parties’ dispute is over whether almost 20,000 acres of public land situated in seven townships that lie along the northwestern boundary of ANWR are within that boundary … or outside of the boundary and thus available for selection by and conveyance to the state,” IBLA Administrative Judge Matthew Ballenger wrote.


The BLM twice decided the land in question was within the refuge, and the IBLA upheld that call. The state sued, and the appeal board was directed to take another look at the case, with attention paid to maps including some dating to 1951.