Through consolidation and expansion of existing refuges, and creation of new units, the Act provided 79.54 million acres of refuge land in Alaska, of which 27.47 million acres were designated as wilderness. (See entry "National Wildlife Refuge Acts" for a review of provisions for the Refuge System.)
The Act terminated all withdrawals made by the President and the Secretary in Alaska from 1978 through 1980, with the lands either being included in conservation system units by the provisions of this Act or reverting to their prior status for management under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (90 Stat. 2743) or the laws relating to management of the National Forest System, as appropriate. The Act also provided that any future executive action withdrawing lands in Alaska aggregating more than 5,000 acres would only become effective upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register and notifications to Congress. In the event both Houses have not passed a Joint Resolution ratifying the withdrawal within one year of the notice, the withdrawal would terminate. All studies of public lands in Alaska for establishment of a conservation system unit or similar area were prohibited unless specifically authorized by Congress.
The Act provided comprehensive management guidance for all public lands in Alaska, including provisions regarding wilderness, subsistence, transportation and utility corridors, oil and gas leasing, mining, public access, hunting, trapping and fishing, and implementation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Many technical amendments were made to the Native Claims Settlement Act, and numerous studies and reports to Congress were required.
Two studies of particular importance to the Service were required. The first involved the review of all Service lands in Alaska for suitability for inclusion in the wilderness system, with Presidential recommendations due within 7 years of enactment. The second was a review of the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge (commonly known as the "1002 area" and "1002 Report," from the section of the Act requiring the study) for oil and gas potential, and wildlife resources. Recommendations from the Secretary as to whether oil and gas leasing should be authorized were due within 5 years and 9 months of enactment.
Title VIII of the Act resulted in substantial, new responsibilities for the Service beginning in 1990. As a result of an Alaska Supreme Court decision, the State of Alaska lost its authority to manage subsistence harvest of fish and wildlife on Federal lands. Consequently, the five Federal agencies with land management responsibilities assumed responsibility for subsistence management on 380,900 square miles of land under Federal jurisdiction. The Service is the lead agency for Federal subsistence management. Additionally, the Service's subsistence responsibilities oblige it to venture into facets of fish and wildlife management that historically have been within the purview of the States.
Public Law 97-394, approved December 30, 1982 (96 Stat. 1982), amended the Act to require the Secretary to prohibit any person who obtained access to seismic and geologic data being generated for the 1002 report (other than from the parties with permits for conducting the studies) from participating in any lease sale for any area covered by the data, or from making any other commercial use of the information. It also requires permitees to make the data available to any person at fair cost.
Public Law 97-468, approved January 14, 1983 (96 Stat. 2578), made a technical amendment to the provisions of the Act governing Denali National Park, in connection with the transfer of the Alaska Railroad to the State.
Public Law 98-620, approved November 8, 1984 (98 Stat. 3358), repealed language providing expedited judicial review of lawsuits filed over administrative decisions implementing the transportation and utility corridor provisions of the Act.
Public Law 100-203, approved December 22, 1987 (101 Stat. 1330), made technical changes to section 1008 in conformity with the general revision of the on-shore oil and gas leasing program for non-North Slope Federal lands nationwide.
Public Law 100-395, approved August 16, 1988 (102 Stat. 979), ratified an agreement between the Department and the State for calculation of submerged lands acreage in connection with the selection of lands by the State and Native groups, ratified a Public Land Order adding land to the Arctic refuge, and prohibited land exchanges within the coastal plain of that refuge without the approval of Congress.