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Farmland resources and use-Continued

Region

bottoms. Southeast Alaska

Total, Alaska.

1 Includes only lands cleared for agricultural purposes.

2 Estimated by Dr. Don Irwin, Director, Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station,
Report of Exploratory Investigations of Agricultural Problems of Alaska, App. 3, U.S.
Department of Agriculture, Misc. Pub. No. 100.

3 Exclusive home gardens.
* Included under Anchorage area, not reported separately.

Estimated by W. A. Rockie, U. S. Soil Conservation Service, What of Alaska, Soil
Conservation 11 (7), pp. 147-153

* Land classification determinations do not take account of sporadic differential settle-
ment of the land due to changes in permafrost conditions, or its incidence cannot be
accurately predetermined when insulating cover of vegetation is removed.
7 Includes Tanana Valley and Yukon-Tanana Uplands.
8 Not reported separately from Tanana Valley.

Approximate acreage of land capable of forage production in Haines region when
cleared with minor areas suitable for Alaskan general crop production, cost of clearing
commercial forest stands, and other land preparation for cultivation, however, would
be generally prohibitive.

10 On farms contacted only.
11 Not reported separately.
12 No land classification survyes to date.
13 Except for few dairy and poultry farms, are mainly ranch enterprises.
14 No report.

*At Copper Center freezing temperatures occur during summer months in most years.
At Gulkana, while there is a growing season of 67 days, freezing temperatures have been
experienced during each month of the year, but not during the same year.

Source: Farm economic data from Agricultural Production Alaska 1953, R. A. Andrews
and others of Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, H. P. Gazaway, AAES, and
Alaska Department of Agriculture staff, and E. Lichenthal, Agricultural Extension
Service.

NOTES.-W. A. Rockie, in What of Alaska, estimates the cultivable land of the Kenai
Peninsula lowlands, Upper Cook Inlet lowlands, and Lower Susitna Valley combined
at 500,000 acres.

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21, 149.80
11, 101.96
87, 825. 16
31, 972.00

21, 094. 50
5, 344. 60
8,541.53
48, 119.98

1, 528, 176

23, 391. 47
23, 341. 87
178, 270. 17
22,644. 02

212, 575

100, 800

27,562

478, 538

174, 237

194, 921

707, 231

336, 173

371, 058

Negligible amount is presently considered farmland resources. Acreage is not in. cluded in total.

· Due to disparity of cadastral survey and land classification survey acreages there

271, 207

? 436, 024

may be minor differences in acreage totals for various areas. The net disparity in classified acreage and total acreage accounted for as patented, entered, classified for small tract, public sale, or townsite, reserved and vacant acreage is 1,470 acres.

RANGELANDS

acres.

THE RESOURCE Rangeland resources in Alaska are only partially known and understood. Estimates of their extent vary from about 5 million for nearly yearlong grazing areas to a total of about 20 million acres for both seasonal and nearly yearlong range areas, and if reindeer grazing areas are also included, to over 50 million

Impressions of the potential value of the grazing resources of Alaska vary from the optimistic and sometimes exaggerated statements of promoters to the conservative or sometimes pessimistic evaluations of the pioneering operator who has either experienced or seen the difficulties of operation first hand. The real worth of the resource no doubt lies somewhere between. That there are potentials and possibilities of development is unquestioned. What they are and what it will take to develop them are still in the realm of approximations, judgments, or sheer guesses because of the extremely limited amount of technical work that has been accomplished to date in the identification and description of the resource and the very limited amount of experience in commercial livestock production in most of the range areas.

Very little is known of the forage species, vegetative composition, natural ecology, or grazing capacity of Alaska's grazing lands. Semidetailed range inventory surveys have been carried out on only about 300,000 acres and extensive reconnaissance investigations utilizing aerial photographs and relatively few field observations on only about 750,000 acres. A vast amount of field range and laboratory work remains to be carried out to provide adequate bases for the development of stable rangeland use and management in the Territory.

The total estimated carrying capacity of Alaska's rangelands is at least 150,000 animal units. Grazing areas include some where the climate is mild enough to permit yearlong use, lush grasses grow, little fencing is required, water supply is plentiful, few predators disturb livestock, and little death loss occurs from poisonous plants. On the other hand, there are areas where rigorous climate, short growing season, and predators make it difficult for even a reindeer enterprise to succeed. Throughout the rangeland areas, shortage of winter feed is a most serious limitation. The high cost of long winter feeding in interior Alaska and the cost of substantial shelters which are required are major obstacles to development of interior grazing lands.

USE AND OWNERSHIP

At present approximately 1,200,000 acres of public domain lands on Kodiak and adjacent islands in the Aleutians, on the Shunagin and other southwestern islands, on kenai Peninsula, on the tidal flats and upper slopes of the Matanuska Valley, on the more open portions of the middle Tanana Valley near Venana. Fairbanks, and Big Delta, and in the Central Copper River Valley are included in about 50 grazing leases. These leases now furnish nearly yearlong or seasonal grazing each year for about 3,600 animal units. If range developments and rates of stocking are carried out in accordance with the terms of existing leases it is reported they will provide for about 23,000 animal units. Most of the leased rangelands were placed under lease after 1948. Present production on Alaskan range runs less than 1,000 head annually.

Unreserved grazing land in Alaska for both seasonal and nearly yearlong use for sheep and cattle is estimated to be nearly 8 million acres. The total estimated carrying capacity of these rangelands is about 160,000 animal units, but most of this is on summer range only. On better rangelands the nearly yearlong grazing lands, opportunity for development of range enterprises can perhaps be best obtained by forming partnerships with existing leaseholders, by acquisition of existing leases through assignment, or through protest of existing leases where development may be in default.

In the administration of rangelands in Alaska it is established policy to place lease conditions and fees at incentive or developmental levels. Grazing fees range from about 2 to 14 cents per animal unit month and tend to average out at about 60 cents per animal unit year.

PUBLIC LAND MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES

1. Expansion of the range livestock industry on the public domain

The principal markets of south central Alaska would probably take more than 10 times the beef, lamb, and mutton now produced on its ranges. Range developments have been slow nearly everywhere; in places, however, as on Kodiak and nearby islands, there has been considerable progress in the development of a range livestock industry in recent years. Inadequate supply of investment or development capital is believed to be the main obstacle to expansion of the range livestock industry. 2. Public guidance in leasing and development of rangeland

The quickest and most sure way to help achieve more orderly use, development and improvement of the present and potential rangelands in Alaska, is by affording (1) more precise physical evaluation of the range resources, (2) more precise economic evaluation of the feasibility of expanded range use and development, and (3) provision of improved Federal rangeland administration,

PROGRAM NEEDED TO ACHIEVE OBJECTIVES

As the range

1. Formulation of a range livestock industry development program

In the interest of providing for expansion of the range livestock industry in Alaska, the Alaska Commissioner of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture should formulate a range livestock industry development program tailored to provide ways and means of overcoming the primary obstacles facing grazing lessees in the development of their ranches. The rising demands by a rapidly growing population in farm and rangelands resources in the United States and Alaska in the next 20 years should economically ripen large additional acreages of Alaska's grassland resources. 2. Range resources research

Execute a cooperative research project with the Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station and the Soil Conservation Service in fiscal year 1956 in determining the physical and economic basis for rangeland use and development on Kodiak and adjacent islands. 3. Rangeland inventories

How extensive and productive are Alaska's rangelands? Reliable information can come only with systematic grassland inventories. A range survey should be carried out on not less than one potential grazing area each year. surveys are completed a concise and graphic prospectus should be prepared for each area to show the possibilities for range use and development. Based on a three-man field party, it is anticipated that 300,000 to 400,000 acres can be inventoried each field season on detailed reconnaissance basis.

Acres Fiscal year 1957: Unalaska Island.

400, 000 Fiscal year 1958: Umnak, Sanak, Shumagin Islands.

350,000 Fiscal year 1959: Pavlov, Chirikof, Tugidak, Sitkinak, Raspberry Islands

350, 000 Fiscal year 1960: Kodiak (unreserved mile strip).

300, 000 4. Rangeland management

Provide for improved Federal rangeland administration, including regular field inspections of grazing leases to note stocking and other development compliances, effects of grazing on forage conditions, trends in relationships of range values to grazing fees, and fulfillment of reporting requirements. 5. Resolution of wildlife preservation and livestock industry conflicts in Alaska's

rangeland areas 4. Review of land policies and legislation

Provision of clear legislative authority to prevent homesteading of land under zrazing lease unless it will not jeopardize the use and management of a grazing Promulgation of regulations under which to issue and administer reindeer razing leases.

unit.

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1 Field study and mapping by Bureau of Land Management Range Examiners, 1949–53.
? Field examinations and aerial reconnaissance.
3 Conversations with persons who have been on the areas or have talked.
* Gasser, G, S., Livestock in Alaska, Alaska Department of Agriculture Circular 4, 1949.

5 Alaska's Native Grasslands-A manuscript of a circular by the Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1954,

6 Range survey made but not compiled.
7 Rood, Sidney J., Alaska Reindeer notes, The Alaskan Agriculturist, 1952-53.

8 Leopold, Starker A. and Darling, Fraser F., Wildlife in Alaska, The Ronald Press, 1953.

i Complete coverage.

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