You are on page 1of 23

Denali - Wolf Townships history

History Compiled by Ed Davis,

Fairbanks Sept. 2016
1917 McKinley Park established, Wolf Townships not included
1922 AK Railroad proposes to include Wolf Townships in McKinley Park
protect Park wildlife
1965 State selects Wolf Townships, but cites need to expand Park to
caribou, and that existing Park boundary is an arbitrary line.
1969 Johnson administration considers, but declines, to add Wolf
Townships to Park.
1978 Wolf Townships included in Denali National Monument, hunting
1980 ANILCA House version includes Wolf Townships, Senate and
final bill excludes, but Senate Committee cites need to bring theses
lands into Park in future land exchange to protect Park wildlife.
1985 State proposes bringing Wolf Townships into Park in
exchange for Kantishna/Dunkle Mine being excluded from Park.
1995 State proposes rail line through Wolf Townships, and NPS plan
cites need to
protect area affected by rail line as Park.
2001 State proposes to convey Wolf Townships to UA, to then sell to
2000-2013 many wolf buffer requests, buffer established and
removed, many
more wolf buffer requests to BOG and ADFG.
2013 Present Seeking final resolution of this issue, Alaska citizens
propose Denali Wildlife Conservation Easement as compromise to
permanently protect Park wildlife in Wolf Townships, while leaving land
title as is.

1922 - Proposal by AK Railroad to include Wolf

Townships in McKinley Park:
During Warren G. Harding administration, AEC (i.e., became the Alaska
Railroad) official Frederick Mears recommended adding Wolf Townships
into McKinley Park, and on May 29 (1922) he wrote a formal proposal to
Interior Secretary Albert B. Fall "to extend the eastern boundary of the
park to the Railroad." He wanted to include, in the southeastern end of
the park, all of the Cantwell and Windy creek drainages, and he also
hoped to add a five-mile strip north of the park between the
railroad and the Toklat River. The "wild game" located beyond
the park's northern boundary, he claimed, was "probably the

greatest attraction which the Park Service will have," and the
eastern and southeastern sections contained "a good deal of
game." In addition, an extension was needed
because it was difficult to enforce or monitor hunting access
into the existing

park. See page 56/57, and John Kauffmann, Mount McKinley National
Park, Alaska; a History of its Establishment and Revision of its
Boundaries (Washington, NPS, July
1954), 12-14
Olaus Murie was alleged by George Parks to have played an (out of
character) role in
shooting down the Railroad's proposal:
Mears's proposal was forwarded to George A. Parks of the General Land
Office, who
made a thorough investigation and issued a final report in November
1922. It was not encouraging. Parks obtained statements from Olaus
Murie, Maurice Morino, and even Harry Karstens that debunked the
notion that the eastern strip was laden with game; he noted, in fact,
that it "contains no game of any kind other than birds." In addition,
Murieaccording to Parksstated that the caribou that often
grazed north of the park boundaries were indicators of a
particularly large
herd and "that unless the surplus caribou are killed, the range
within the park will soon be overstocked." And in response to
Mears's ease-of-patrol argument, Parks stated that virtually all hunters
hoping to enter the park would use either Riley Creek or Windy Creek,
and to him, "efficient rangers can patrol these places just as easily as
they can forty miles of railroad." Interior Department officials in
Washington lost further interest in the idea.

1965 State selects Wolf Township lands on boundary

of McKinley Park
Fairbanks News Miner reports from 1965:
7/7/65: "Sen. Bob Bartlett protested the proposed withdrawal of 9,118
acres of land adjacent to Mt. McKinley Park... The withdrawal area
includes the Kantishna Mining District.
8/3/65: "Miners are objecting to a plan that would bring the Kantishna
District into the boundaries of McKinley National Park, Chamber of
Commerce directors were told yesterday by William Waugaman, a
member of the board."
The News Miner extensively covered a U.S. Department of Interior
delegation that visited Alaska in July and August of 1965, with a
primary focus of expanding Mt McKinley National Park to protect the
range of the Denali caribou herd.
8/2/65: "Wednesday morning they will entrain for McKinley National Park
possibilities of park expansion and more accommodations will be

8/4/65: "Questioned about reported plans to expand park boundaries,

Hartzog said no decisions had been reached, but he did say that
according to biological research, the park's caribou herd does not have
enough room."

8/5/65: "Part of the problem to be considered by both groups is

possible enlargement of the park boundary to include
protection of the caribou range, part of which is presently
outside the park. The trio called the present boundary "an
arbitrary line"... Hartzog stated the board served in an advisory
capacity to Interior Secretary Stewart Udall and the contents of the
meeting could only be released by the secretary after he had taken
action on the recommendations"... "Parks don't exist in a vacuum.
We're not interest in land for the sake of land," but he continued by
explaining that caribou herds would continue to exist only if their range
was protected."
"Crown Jewel of the North An Administrative History of Denali
National Park and Preserve" by Frank Norris, 2006:
Page 235: "One area of consideration that did not change during
this period was the fourteen-mile-wide strip north of the park and
west of Healy. An NPS map of potential parklands, dated
November 1971, indicated that the entire
strip should be included in an expanded Mount McKinley
National Park. "But once planners, during the post-ANCSA
period, began to scrutinize the
area more closely, they learned that 92,000 acres in six key
townships, locally known as the "wolf townships," had been
selected by the State of Alaska back in July 1965..."
Key passages from "Final Environmental Statement, Proposed Mt.
McKinley National
Park Additions, Alaska" October 1974:
Page 3: Map titled "The proposal" - Shows the "Wolf Townships" as
both: a) "Area of Ecological Concern" and b) A "Cooperative
Planning and Management Zone" - see definition on Page 15
below, and attached photo of the map.
Page 15: "Five areas of ecological concern relating to park
resources have been identified. These are: (1) Approximately
92,000 acres of State selections tentatively approved land west
of Healy and adjacent to the northern boundary of the existing
park. These lands are critical wolf and Dall sheep habitat, and
wolf and sheep in this area range in and out of the existing park.
The National Park Service proposes cooperative planning
in this area compatible with park purposes to assure the
continued health of this portion of the Mount McKinley
large mammal community..."
Page 21: "State selections tentatively approved lands are lands that
have been selected under the provisions of the Alaska Statehood
Act and for which title transfer has been tentatively approved but
not formally completed. These lands occur in the proposed
Cooperative Planning and Management Zone and in areas of
ecologic concern."

Page 155: "This proposal precludes the management of 92,000

acres of land under multiple-use that are optional through State
ownership. The State currently recognizes the wolf packs
as an important resource and has withdrawn the options
for recreational homesite staking. The state has

also excluded future transportation developments within

this area."
The legislature seemingly violated the State's "agreement" above, to
"exclude future transportation developments within this area", when
they granted the Right of Way for a railroad to Kantishna, to the Denali

1969 - Proposed inclusion of Wolf Townships in Park by

administration: (Note this file is huge 346
President Johnson considered, but chose not to include the Wolf
Townships in McKinley Park during the final hours of his presidency
in January 1969, but recommended that Congress should instead
enact these National Monuments. Reference NPS publication Crown
Jewel of the North, Volume 1, Pages 187 and
"Given that perceived approval, the Interior Department issued a news
entitled "Mount McKinley National Monument Established in Alaska,"
and later that day, Alaska newspapers reported that the new, 2.2million - acre monument "would serve as a companion piece to
McKinley National Park. Part of the monument land is north of the
park and protects the migration route of the park's caribou....
On the morning of January 20,1969, just two hours before President
inauguration, Johnson decided to sign the proclamations for the four
smallest areas, one of which was the 94,547-acre Katmai National
Monument addition. But he refused to sign the three other
proclamations, which included the 2,202,328 - acre Mount
McKinley National Park addition." - From Pages 187/188
"One area of consideration that did not change during this period was
the fourteen- mile-wide strip north of the park and west of Healy. An
NPS map of potential parklands, dated November 1971, indicated that
the entire strip should be included in an expanded Mount McKinley
National Park. " But once planners, during the post-ANCSA
period, began to scrutinize the area more closely, they learned
that 92,000 acres in six key townships, locally known as the
"wolf townships,"
had been selected by the State of Alaska back in July 1965. By
the following May,
the BLM had tentatively approved the transfer of most of those lands to
the state,

and small portions of the township closest to Healy had been

subdivided beginning in October 1970. The land that was both north
and west of these townships, however, remained in federal hands. As a
result, the initial (March 1972) proposal included the federal landsbut
not the state or private landsin the proposed park area. The
remaining plans released that year remained consistent with the March
1972 plan, and both the DEIS (in December 1973) and the FES (in
October 1974)
also retained the same proposal boundaries. The FES noted that "this

constitutes extremely critical range for the wolf packs" and

was thus identified as an "area of environmental concern." But
because the state "recognized the wolf packs as an important
resource," because it had agreed on August 15, 1973 to close
the area to further home site entry, and because it "also
excluded future transportation developments within this area,"
Alaska Task Force planners excluded these townships from the
expanded park
area." - From page 235

1978 Wolf Townships included in Denali National

The Wolf Townships were included in Denali National Monument
(withdrawal by Pres. Carter pursuant to D-2 of ANCSA), see map
entitled "Administrative Alternative Action, Alaska d-2 Lands,
11/28/78", from envelope in: "Final Environmental Supplement,
Alternative Administrative Actions, Alaska National Interest Lands".
Hunting was likely prohibited during Denali National Monument's 2-year
based on the following:
The Wolf Townships were deemed suitable for "Wilderness
Designation", according to the Joint Federal State Land Use
Planning Commission for Alaska, 12/31/77, see photo of map
in the 11/28/78 "Final
Environmental Supplement..."." Hunting criteria in
m, and Note 63:
Passages from "Final Environmental Supplement,
Alternative Administrative Actions, Alaska National Interest
Lands" suggest hunting was prohibited in the Wolf
Townships during the 2-year existence
of Denali National Monument:
Page III-34: "Generally, the hunter demand for Alaskan big
game will continue if portions of the study areas are closed to
hunting. The hunting recreational opportunities, demand for
professional guides, demand for services, and hunting
pressure will be displaced to areas where hunting is permitted.
However the quality of Alaskan sport hunting will be reduced
and the protected wildlife populations will benefit to
undetermined degrees."

Page III-35: "Because the study areas are some of Alaska's

most scenic wild lands, displaced hunters may have a lower
quality total recreational experience outside these areas."

Page 27: (ADFG Comment): "Denali: The Park area in the

original 1974
statement was to be at least partially open to sport and
subsistence uses."

1980 ANILCA inclusion, then exclusion, of Wolf

November 1971 NPS map recommended adding the 14-mile wide strip
of land west of Healy to the Park. This strip of land was excluded from
the December 1973 ANCSA D-2 withdrawals, based on State of
Alaska assurances that the wolf packs are important. [Reference NPS
publication Crown Jewel of the North, Volume 1, Page 235.]
Strip of land west of Healy was returned to federal protection under the
1978 Final Environmental Supplement: Alternative Administrative
Actions, Alaska National Interest Lands, Page II-12, -- provided the
basis for President Carters 3.89 million acre Denali National
Monument surrounding Mount McKinley National Park, in December
Although the Wolf Townships were not included within the Park
additions in the final version of ANILCA, the Senate Committee
report made clear that this area is critical to park wildlife resources,
and should be protected, stating (inter alia):
The prime resource for which the north addition is established
is the critical
range necessary to support populations of moose, wolf, and
caribou as part of
an integral ecosystem. Public enjoyment of these outstanding
wildlife values
would thus continue to be assured. (Senate report 96-413,
1980, page 166);
The Committee agreed to the deletion of the major blocks of
State Lands that
are within the House-recommended boundaries. These occur
primarily in 3
areas. In the northeast portion of the area, near the existing
there are some 3 townships of state lands which are critical for
sheep, caribou,
and wolf habitat and should eventually become a part of the
park The
Committee recognizes that these areas are important to the
park and
recommends that the Secretary seek land exchanges with the
State of Alaska

that would serve to bring these areas into the Park.

(ANILCA Report of the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources, U.S.
Senate report 96-413, 11/5/79, page 167).
Inasmuch as Section 1322(a) of ANILCA rescinded the December
1,1978 proclamations that established Denali and the other national
monuments, one effect of ANILCA's passage was to shrink the area
managed by the local park superintendent from approximately
6,372,000 acres to 6,075,000 acres - a net loss of almost 300,000
acres. Most of this acreage was transferred from NPS jurisdiction back
to the Bureau of Land Management, which had controlled this land prior
to President Carter's December 1978 proclamation. Most of the
acreage loss was in

three major parcels: the "wolf townships" west of Healy, a threetownship block
along the lower Toklat and Sushana rivers, and an irregularly
shaped area southwest of Cantwell between Lookout Mountain
and the lower reaches of Eldridge Glacier. - From Page 258

1985 - Proposed exchange of Kantishna/Dunkle

Mine for Wolf Townships:
"In the park's 1983-84 Environmental Impact Statements for
Kantishna Hills/Dunkle Mine Study Report, one alternative which proved popular with miners and local residents - called
for the deletion of the Kantishna Hills and Dunkle Mine areas
from the park, perhaps in exchange for the "Wolf
Townships" corridor. This action brought forth some
communication with state DNR officials along with an Alaska
State Senate resolution that was introduced in January 1985
and signed by Governor Sheffield a month later." - See Page 23
From the 1984 Tanana Basin Area Plan (public review draft), Page 4-5:
Department of Natural Resources planning team recommends that
the Stampede Trail area (three townships) be exchanged with the Parks
SJR-3 Passed/Signed by Gov. Sheffield in 1985:
LR004 Resolve:
LR004 Year: 1985
Source Bill:
Root: SJR003
NO. 4
Requested that the State of Alaska pursue a land exchange with the U.S.
of the Interior to exclude the Dunkle Mine Township Area from Denali
National Park
and Preserve.


WHEREAS the boundaries of Denali National Park and Preserve were
expanded by the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands
Conservation Act in 1980 to include the historic Dunkle Mine Township
Area; and
WHEREAS the Dunkle Mine Township Area contains good quality coal
deposits, at

least four high-grade gold/silver vein deposits, placer gold deposits, and
large low
grade copper/precious metal deposits; and
WHEREAS the proximity of the Dunkle Township Area to the Alaska
Railroad and
the Parks Highway enhances the favorability of the area's mining
potential; and
WHEREAS claimholders had established rights to the minerals in the
area before the
time the park was expanded to include the claims; and
WHEREAS in recognition of the fact that the Dunkle Township Area
has known mineral potential, Section 202(3)(b) of ANILCA mandated
that a study of the relationship of mineral resources and mining
activity to the other resources of the area be done by the Alaska Land
Use Council in cooperation with the Secretary of Interior; and
WHEREAS the potential for mineral development of the Dunkle Township
Area will
be lost if the area stays within the park, as park status will not allow
new mining
claims and may invalidate many of the present claims; and
WHEREAS one of the alternatives offered in the 1983 Draft
Environmental Impact Statement of the Dunkle Mine Study was to
remove mineralized areas and mining activity from the park
boundaries and place them under the jurisdiction of the State of
Alaska; and
WHEREAS there is no conclusive evidence that deletion of the Dunkle
Township Area from the park would result in a lack of protection for
the caribou herd, as any adverse effects that may occur from
increased mining activity could be mitigated under the direction of
the state; and
WHEREAS there is state owned land contiguous to Denali National
Park and Preserve with scenic and wildlife values equal to the Dunkle
Township Area; and
WHEREAS Section 1302(h) of ANILCA clearly authorizes exchanges in
units; and
WHEREAS public testimony solicited during the study process was in
support of an exchange; and
WHEREAS the Department of Interior has indicated that it regards a land

as one of the better solutions for the problems identified in the Dunkle
Mine Study, and initial discussions have occurred between the State
Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service, and the
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks indicating
a willingness by all parties to negotiate and exchange;
BE IT RESOLVED by the Alaska State Legislature that the State of Alaska
and the

Department of Interior take whatever action is necessary to exclude the

Dunkle Township Area from the Denali National Park and Preserve
through a land exchange that would allow the National Park Service to
acquire lands of equal value with high scenic and wildlife habitat values
and allow the state the opportunity to develop the mineralized lands in
the Dunkle Township Area; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED that the land exchange be as simple and
uncomplicated as possible, preferably for lands of equal value to the
Dunkle Township Area and adjacent to the Denali National Park and
COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Donald Hodel,
Secretary of
the U.S. Department of Interior; the Honorable Bill Sheffield, Governor;
the Honorable Ted Stevens and the Honorable Frank Murkowski, U.S.
Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S.
August 25, 1987 Fairbanks Daily News Miner article:
Feds, state near land swap near Denali:
The Wolf Township, or Stampede Road area, is important habitat for
park caribou
and wolf populations Miners favor state ownership of Dunkle
Township, said Curt McVee, executive director of the Alaska Miners
Association. It would be a plus to get mineralized areas out of park

1995 Proposed Denali rail line into Kantishna via

Fairbanks News-Miner, June 5, 1995: Proposed Denali rail line getting
consideration from Fairbanks developers:
Kantishna Holdings is proposing a 90 mile railroad with a 300
room hotel at
each end, at an estimated cost of $300 million There are
syndicates willing
to put up the big money The National Park system advisory
Board after
lobbying by Sen. Murkowski assistants endorsed a new
northern railroad
route into Denali.
From Gov. Frank Murkowskis State of the State address, Jan. 2003:
We need a northern route into the 6-million-acre Denali
National Park, the
states number one tourist destination. Also in 2003, Denalis
Backcountry Management Plan called for treating areas that
would be
affected by various north access proposals to be managed as if
they were part

of the park.

2001 - Proposed conveyance of Wolf Townships to UA

to sell to NPS
Team crafts university land plan
by Martha Bellisle, Anchorage Daily News, February 15, 2001

The Knowles administration is trying to get out of a long and bitter

fight with the Legislature by preparing its own plan to give incomeproducing land to
the University of Alaska.
The plan was developed quietly over three months last fall by
representatives from
the university, the governor's office and several agencies. They pieced
together a scheme to transfer specific chunks of state land to the
university -- property it could log, mine, lease or sell to raise money.
It's not final yet, but the governor's team has enough confidence in the
idea that it
will ask a judge on Friday to delay a lawsuit that arose from last
year's university lands bill -- Senate Bill 7.
''The idea was intended to reach an agreement that would lead to a
replacement bill
to Senate Bill 7,'' said Marty Rutherford, Natural Resources deputy
''It was to create an alternative land package.''
The working group came up with a tentative list of 260,000 acres in
many parcels across the state, said Commissioner Pat Pourchot. It
includes timber land in Southeast, commercial property along the
Dalton Highway, parcels near Egegik and McCarthy and a swath near
Denali National Park and Preserve.
This latest approach would give the university the same amount of land
as Senate Bill 7, but it is proving hard to sell. Some legislators oppose
giving up state land like the 90,000 acres in the Stampede area near
Denali, which would likely be sold to the federal government.
Environmental groups have questioned the lack of public participation
in the process. Some communities are wary of too much development.
So everything's on hold.
''To work, you need a receptive audience,'' Pourchot said. ''We talked
to legislators and they're saying the time is not right. We're letting it
sit a while to see if we can come up with some other ideas.'' A court
date on Friday will determine if the administration gets that extra
The legal dispute started near the end of the last legislative
session when SB 7, sponsored by Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell,
passed the Republican-controlled Legislature. Knowles vetoed it.

The Legislature overrode his veto, but Knowles claimed the

override vote was illegal and refused to implement the bill. The
Legislature sued the governor.
Taylor argued that the bill would help the university to be selfsupporting. He was fond of saying ''10 years from now, the university
could be one of the biggest developers of oil, coal and timber in the
The bill allowed the university to choose parcels as small as 40 acres
and granted
mineral rights after three years. The bill did not specify what land.
Miners, farmers,

students, environmental groups and communities worried about

granting the university free reign, given its history of clear-cut
logging and aggressive development.
The two sides were supposed to file briefs at the end of January. But the
general's office has asked the court for a 60-day extension so
negotiations on
the land package could continue and a new bill could be drafted, said
Joanne Grace, an assistant attorney general for natural resources. A
judge in Juneau will rule on the extension Friday, Grace said.
Taylor says the governor wants to stall the lawsuit and introduce a new
bill because
''they know they're going to lose.'' ''This is all to save face,'' he said.
The original bill has safeguards to keep the university in check, Taylor
said. It requires legislative approval of each parcel and municipalities
and the Natural Resources commissioner can veto any parcels they
oppose going to the university, he added. ''I can't think of a worse
process than having a couple of people from the governor's office and
the university sit back in a smoke-filled room and put together a list,''
Taylor said.
Rutherford said the governor instigated the talks ''to try to reach
closure on a lands package.'' The university, meanwhile, is treading
lightly. ''We can't afford to offend the Legislature,'' said Joe Beedle, the
UA vice president of finance.
The university won't proceed until there's a decision by the courts or
until a
majority in the Legislature backs a new bill, Beedle said.
Although UA generally embraced the land package, it opposed the
team's position
that this is to be the final state land conveyance to the university.
In addition, both sides agree that this land package can have no affect
federal land the university might seek, Pourchot and Beedle said. The
state land included in the proposed measure reaches from 41,576 acres
in Southeast,
to 39,521 acres in Southcentral to 181,556 acres in the northern Interior.

The largest and the most hotly debated parcel is 90,000 acres
north of Denali National Park and west of Healy around the
Stampede Trail.
The university assumes it could get $1,000 an acre, or $90
million, by selling
the land to the federal government to expand the park, Beedle
But some officials from Fairbanks and the Denali Borough were
horrified at
the thought of giving more Alaska land to the federal
government, participants
said. Alaska Conservation Voters was given an advisory role in
the talks, and
is not sold on the package either. Spokeswoman Sue Schrader,
said one of the
worst parts of the package is a proposal to give UA patchwork of
timber land in Southeast.

UA Land Plan Details: A draft of the new proposal to transfer land to

the university and a list of the parcels involved @

2000 2013 wolf bufer/no bufer/requests for bufer

Denalis 2003 Draft Backcountry Management Plan, calls for areas
affected by
various north access proposals to be managed as if they were part of the
Many subsequent efforts to establish a no-kill wolf buffer in Wolf
A small (122 mi2) no-kill wolf buffer was established by Alaska Board of
Game 2000,
in western part of Stampede Trail, then eliminated by Board in 2010,
with a 6-year
moratorium on further consideration of the wolf buffer issue.
Many subsequent citizen proposals and emergency petitions to
Board of Game to close area to wolf take, as well as many requests
for Emergency Closures to the ADFG Commissioner -- all denied.

2013 Present: Proposed Denali Wildlife Conservation

Nov. 17, 2013 - Group of Alaska citizens and wildlife NGOs propose to
U.S. Secretary
of Interior and Governor of Alaska establishment of a wildlife
conservation easement on these lands, whereby the State of Alaska
would convey/extinguish its authority to permit hunting/trapping of all
park wildlife species in Wolf Townships and adjacent lands (approx. 250
mi2, or 160,000 acres), in exchange for a like- valued federal asset
(land, easement, cash, federal surplus property, etc.) being conveyed
to the State.
Aug. 2016, the Denali wildlife conservation easement proposal received
support from the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) the states
largest and
most influential tourism business association.
This proposal is currently in discussion.