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Fri May 21, 2021, 01:01 AM

State unveils maps in effort to 'unlock' Alaska waters

The State of Alaska has management rights in some, but not all, of Kenai Peninsula waters. That’s according to new maps published by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources last week, which plot which Alaska waters are “navigable” and therefore under state, rather than federal, management.

The maps are the result of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s “Unlocking Alaska,” initiative, which was announced earlier this year, and has a stated goal of establishing a state website people can use to see where they can “freely travel.” Tustumena and Skilak Lakes, for example, are part of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge created by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 and are shown as “not navigable” on the new maps, meaning they are not under state control. Most of the Kenai River, in contrast, is shown as “navigable,” meaning it is under state control.

States’ ownership of the beds of navigable waters located within their boundaries can be traced back to the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Footing Doctrine, which says new states entering the union would be able to do so on the same footing as the original 13 colonies already in the Union. When Alaska became a state, it opted to defer management of these waters to the federal government while Alaska was still new to the United States.

Though the Equal Footing Doctrine means navigable waters belong to the state, efforts to reassert state management of those waters have accelerated in recent decades.

Read more: https://www.homernews.com/news/state-unveils-maps-in-effort-to-unlock-alaska-waters/

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