Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

moting the chances of early financing for business or home building. He won't have to await a special survey and the time lag which is unavoidable.

The extension of the rectangular net is of particular importance to the Territory. Sections 16 and 36 throughout the Territory and section 33 in the Tanana Valley are set aside for support of schools and the university, Until they are identified by survey the Territory has no income from them. This is another reason why we have concentrated much of our attention to rectangular surveys recently.

Most of this year we have had 8 or 10 crews in the field. The cadastral engineer's office in Alaska, only, keeps a record of status of unsurveyed land for both land offices. To interpret the descriptions of land given by individuals and to plot them accurately requires diligence and a great amount of time.

In some areas of unsurveyed land, where oil and gas filings have been received or anticipated, we have attempted to prevent an unprecedented snarl by laying out grids on paper to guide the applicants for leases. To permit every applicant to file by his own description without any guidance would delay by years the issuance of leases. Our engineers have attempted to be ahead of the game in that respect.

In recent years the Department and Congress have begun to recognize the dire need for surveys in Alaska and have responded by a gradual increase in funds available for that purpose. This is a necessary trend and must continue for BLM to begin to keep pace with the development of Alaska. Lack of surveys is now somewhat of a bottleneck in such development.

Perhaps the chief problem that handicaps our surveying program is the human element. The isolation, deplorable living conditions, absence from family associations, and the lack of pay and subsistence payments to compensate for our failure to provide living conditions equal to those offered by other Government agencies and private industry make our jobs unattractive. We would like to attract young engineers, with at least some college training, who might make a career of Government service. They must be devoted and dedicated, almost beyond reason, to stick with us through rain and snow, tents and sleeping bags, buying their own food, eating their own cooking and doing their own dishwashing. We have had almost a disastrous turnover in personnel during the summer of 1955.

Our older survey chiefs, who are away from their families during the entire seasons in some years, are beginning to feel the strain, not only because of the physical endurance required to do the work and act as financier, counselor, boss, and nurse for a whcle crew, but also to their home ties.

The Director of the Bureau of Land Management is aware of these problems and is determined, we feel, to do something about them.

Fiscal year 1956 Allotment.

$300, 000 For personnel.

132, 000
Estimates for fiscal year 1956
1. Rectangular surveys;
. (a) Resurveys: Fairbanks and Anchorage vicinity in connection
with small-tract program..

acres. 1,500
(b) Original surveys: Big Lake area, Kenai area, Tok area,
Fairbanks (Big Delta).

acres.

100, 000
(c) Small tracts: Subdivision of section in Anchorage and
Fairbanks areas.-

tracts. 1, 400
2. Special surveys:
(a) Small tracts (in group surveys).

250 In southeastern Alaska...

75 In Anchorage area.

175 3. Isolated small tracts and special surveys.

300

50 In southeastern Alaska.. In Fairbanks area.

100 In Anchorage area.

150 Townsites (original townsite layouts).

7

OBJECTIVES

1. Adequate townsite surveys providing for an orderly future growth of the kin, which will stop settlement on irregular tracts that prevents any future ver of a desirable townsite plan. 2. To extend the rectangular system of surveys along all highways and railroads erever such land is suitable for industrial or homesteading purposes.

3. To execute special small tract surveys along all highways and railroads where there is land suitable for such use.

4. To provide small tract surveys for all lakes having a high recreational value.

5. To provide suitable control through large unsurveyed areas now under oil and gas lease or application.

Major objective is to be able to execute all requested surveys within a year and to have enough additional money to be able to survey lands ahead of the current need so that claimants could enter surveyed land without the long delay now required while their requested surveys are being executed and approved.

FARMLANDS

THE RESOURCE

There is a large acreage of undeveloped farmland in the Territory. It is estimated that there are 2,870,000 acres of cultivable lands. Within areas classified as to their capability or suitability for cultivation by the Soil Conservation Service and the Bureau of Land Management, in all 1,528,176 acres, there are 777,598 acres classified as cultivable and 850,578 determined to be uncultivable. Of this, only 12,334 acres have been brought under cultivation. Even if agriculture in Alaska expanded commensurably with its present population growth, the additional acreage put to use would still be too small to make much impression on this farmland reservoir. It is desirable that such expansion that does occur be concentrated on lands best suited to farm use and most accessible to the present road system and markets.

There are various reasons, some physical and some economic, and no doubt also some social, why agriculture has failed to develop apace with population growth. Principally the reasons are: (1) The settlers' usual lack of sufficient homestead or farm-development capital, (2) the high costs of land clearing and other farm improvements, (3) the too limited and costly farm development loans, (4) in some areas insufficient farm-to-market roads, and (5) until recently, at least, the many opportunities for more rewarding occupation in other segments of the economy,

Adequate cultivable land is available tributary to the main trunk highway network to meet present-day land requirements even if maximum agricultural expansion occurs. There is, however, little cultivable public-domain land available for entry immediately adjacent to these highways. Most of it is privately owned idle land, purchasable at high prices if the owners can be located. There are in total 968,055 acres of vacant public lands or lands in major reservations in process of restoration within areas which are traversed or skirted by these highways. Of this total 453,928 acres are classified as "cultivable lands." Additional farm-to-market roads would be needed to provide access to these lands.

A locally supported population, insofar as possible, is considered highly desirable from the standpoint of defense. At present it is estimated over 80 percent of the food for Alaska's population is imported. In time of national emergency, food scarcity from shipping disruptions could seriously weaken the Nation's defenses in Alaska.

USE AND OWNERSHIP Of the 1,528,176 acres of land which have been classified, 212,575 acres have been patented, 100,800 acres entered, and 27,562 acres designated or disposed of for small tract, townsite, or industrial or commercial use, and 478,538 acres reserved for public purposes.

Of the classified lands, over 46 percent or 707,231 acres are still unappropriated and unreserved public domain lands. Of the vacant lands, 336,173 acres are classified as cultivable and 371,058 acres as noncultivable.

The vacant public lands occur both as solid blocks of contiguous lands and as scattered lands intermingled with patented or entered lands culled out in the homestead process. The solid blocks, if containing sizable areas of cultivable land, are generally inaccessible from present roads; the scattered or intermingled lands are generally accessible but usually of lower agricultural quality.

Of the reserved acreage, 260,824 acres lie within large temporary reservations established in aid of land classification and pending legislation in connection with planned group settlement programs in the Matanuska Valley, in the KenaiKasilof area, and in the Chena River Valley. Nearly all of this land is in process of restoration to the public domain, the reservations having served their purpose as in the case of the lands in the Matanuska Valley, or the legislation having failed in the Congress as in the case of the Kenai-Kasilof and Chena River reserves. All of the lands, however, have been classified. In all, 117,755 acres are classified as cultivable and 143,069 acres as noncultivable. Of the remaining lands in major reservations, chiefly military, 56,482 acres are cultivable and 51,852 acres noncultivable.

Of the classified vacant lands, 271,207 acres have been cadastrally surveyed.

It has been calculated that at least 173,000 acres of cultivable farmland in private or pending private ownership is lying idle insofar as agricultural use is concerned.

With little exception, the purpose of the Homestead Act to foster agricultural development on the public domain has not been fulfilled in Alaska. In contrast to the 2,155 homesteads patented which embrace over 275,000 acres of land, there are only 132 full-time farms and 375 part-time or nominal farms involving 12,334 acres in cultivation in all of Alaska. Moreover, nearly three-fifths of all the farms and over two-thirds of the cultivated lands are in the Matanuska Valley settled in most part under the Matanuska Valley colonization project.

PUBLIC LAND-MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES 1. Expansion of the agricultural economy on the public domain

Farm production in Alaska, if brought into balance with available market for locally producible commodities, could be a $7 million to $10 million industry instead of the less than $3 million business it is today. To bring farm production into balance with markets would require at least an estimated 20,500 to 33,500 additional acres of cultivation. At present there are only 12,334 acres in cultivation in all of Alaska. 2. Public guidance in selection and settlement of homestead land

The quickest and most sure way to provide for agricultural expansion in Alaska is by means of planned farm settlement and development projects within present agricultural areas with provision of such aids to farm settlement and development as will overcome present obstacles and assure timely and sufficient agricultural expansion.

PROGRAM NEEDED TO ACHIEVE OBJECTIVES

1. Formulation of an agricultural development program

In the interest of providing for expansion of agricultural development in Alaska, and in the strengthening and diversifying of its economy, the Alaska Commissioner of Agriculture, the Department of Interior, and the Department of Agriculture should formulate an agricultural development program tailored to overcome the primary obstacles facing present homesteaders and farmers in the development of farms. 2. Enactment of an Alaska Land Classification Act

To prevent further haphazard, uneconomic, and scattered settlement such as has occurred in many places in Alaska, legislation should be enacted to permit homestead entry only on lands classified as suitable for such use. The classification should provide for consideration in such determinations of not only the physical factors affecting land use, but location of the land with respect to existing land uses, settlements, schools, trade centers; nearness to markets and transportation facilities and costs of development; and the need for additional land n various uses. Sufficient lands are already classified by the Soil Conservation Service and the Bureau of Land Management as agricultural in character to zake care of most of the homestead settlement needs for many years to come the main agricultural areas of Alaska. Unrestricted homestead settlement which is scattered, temporary, or on poor nd is simply too expensive, if roads and other services are to be provided settlers, be continued any longer.

Acres

3. Execution of intensive land classification surveys in isolated but economically

viable areas Fiscal year 1956: Northeast Kodiak Island (SCS on request by BLM cooperative project).

25, 000 Fiscal year 1957: Fairbanks-Nenana Highway area (SCS as to agriculture use, BLM miscellaneous uses) -

200, 000 Fiscal year 1958: Isolated defense areas such as Galena, Naknek, Fort Yukon, Unalakleet..

50, 000 Fiscal year 1959: Bristol Bay community areas (SCS as to agriculture

use, BLM miscellaneous uses). (Cooperative assistance to economically distressed community areas-home gardens and small industries development) ---

50, 000 Fiscal year 1960: Copper River Highway area (BLM as to miscellaneous uses).

50,000 4. Review of land policies and legislation

(a) Review and publication of Homestead Lands-Farm Lands: Development Possibilities and Problems report in Alaska's Public Land Resources series.

(6) Collaboration with the Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station in land ownership and use study on the kenai Peninsula.

(c) Consideration of revision of homestead law.

Basically the aims of the Homestead Act and on the whole the provisions of the act itself are commendable. They are supposed to bring about the development of farms and the expansion of an agricultural economy on the public domain. In Alaska, however, it appears that there must be supplemental aids to this legislation to bring this about. Whether or not this should only take the simple form of more liberal loans at less interest, or whether a more comprehensive approach envisioning a definite program of aids to land settlement and development under a completely new law, should be studied most carefully. If the latter is considered, then for the purpose of stimulating study of the matter a suggestion is made as to what a new law might provide-entry be allowed only on lands classified as suitable for agricultural development and only after approval of an acceptable farm-development plan; that a certificate of sale be issued to the entryman along with the notice of allowance; the certificate of sale be for a 5-year period with unrestricted right of assignment; that the entry acreage allowance be in accordance with the type of farm proposed for development-40 acres cultivable land for a poultry-type farm; 60 acres for a potato type farm; 80 acres for a potato-truck, truck, or general type farm; 120 acres for a dairy-truck farm; 160 acres for a dairy-type farm; and 320 to 640 acres for a beef-production-type farm; that the entry be encumberable nearly in whole or in part by the entryman in applying for farm-improvement loans under the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation or the Alaskan Agricultural Loan Act; that patent be issued at the end of 5 years for the full acreage of the entry if satisfactory compliance has been attained in execution of the farm plan and the repayment schedule of any farm-loan obligations incurred in the development of the entry, or if the entryman is in default with respect to the farm plan, for only such part of the entry as is being effectively utilized with the balance of the entry being canceled, or if entryman is in default with respect to the repayment schedule of the farm-loan obligations for only such part of the entry as is unencumbered with the balance being appropriated in whole or in part to the loaning agency in payment for the outstanding obligations, but in no event less than the 5-acre aliquot part on which the home is situated unless such disposition would not satisfy settlement of the encumbrance. 5. Expansion and easing of farm credit

Lack of farm-development capital and low incomes on undeveloped farms are major obstacles to agricultural development in Alaska. This suggests an urgent need for formulation of a program providing for expansion of farm credit with higher loan ceilings and lower interest rates in Alaska. 6. Facilitate homestead land administration

(a) Maintain currency in the processing and examination of homestead land

cases.

(6) Restore and provide for entry of obsolete settlement area withdrawals. 7. Provisions of farm-to-market roads

Correlation of the road-development program of the Alaska Road Commission with farm-to-market road requirements of the farm and homestead areas in Alaska.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

Acres
Acres

Acres Acres
Kenai Peninsula lowlands. Lowlands with glaciofluvial deposition and silt mantle. 2 232, 000

185, 164

153, 716
Average length growing season 72-103 days. Aver-
age summer precipitation, 5.62–6.34 inches,

Aver-
age summer temperature 51.5°-51.90
Upper Cook Inlet lowlands Glaciated lowlands and lower mountain slopes. Aver- 2 152, 000 148, 731

364, 149
age length growing season, 104-112 days. Average
summer precipitation, 5.14-6.16 inches.

17.770

14,730
Chugiak area
Lowland and Piedmont with glacial outwash and

10, 275

27, 725
moraine deposits, generally with some silt mantle.
Matanuska Valley
Valley with glaciofluvial deposition and generally a

59, 435

258, 075
silt mantle.
Susitna Flats.
Lowland with glaciofluvial deposition and silt mantle.

61, 251

63, 619 Lower Susitna Valley

6 99, 809

18, 358
Average length growing season, (*)-67 days. A ver-
age summer precipitation, 3.62-5.18 inches. Aver-

699, 809

18, 368
with their bordering terraces at intermediate heights,
Tanana Valley
South facing uplands, intermediate slopes, and bottom 57 145,000

6331, 891

226, 345
lands. Average length growing season, 98-100 days.
Average summer precipitation, 5.49-7.28 inches.

Average summer temperature, 56.6°-58o.
Fairbanks area
Unglaciated hillsides, depositional terrace slopes, and ? 100,000 $ 92, 900

48, 600
broad coalescing fans and floodplain fill in valley

6 67,850

42, 850
Big Delta-Salcha area.. Glacial outwash deposits in Big Delta bend, land
forms in lower Goodpaster, Shaw Creek, Salche and

6 34, 895

45, 205 Little Salcha Valleys generally similar to those in

47, 047 lower Chena Valley. See footnotes at end of table, p. 22.

« AnteriorContinuar »