Alaskans didn’t want it, but eventually came around
ANCHORAGE - It’s been called the most important land conservation act in the history of the country. Thirty-three years ago today President Jimmy Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act into law.
The measure, known as ANILCA, would protect more than 100 million acres of federal land in the state. It would create national parks and refuges, as well as wilderness areas which could never be developed.
Carter has called it one of the most important acts of his presidency, but it took a three-year battle to get it passed. He said Alaska Natives generally supported the plan, but most other Alaskans did not. Carter said the state’s congressional delegation fought it tooth and nail; the message he got from them was loud and clear.
“You don’t have any right to be involved with it, you should let Alaska’s delegation make decisions about Alaska,” Carter said. “We don’t want anyone from Idaho or Georgia in our affairs. Those were the main arguments that were launched against us, but eventually we convinced Congress it was the right thing to do.”
Carter made his comments today during a nationwide video broadcast hosted by the National Park Service. The event was broadcast to hundreds of high schools across the country.