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Alaska Best Interest Finding (3-AK-i)

Information current as of 2020
In Alaska, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’s Division of Mining, Land and Water (ML&W) must make a Best Interest Finding to sell, lease or otherwise "dispose" of state land. In the written Best Interest Finding, the ML&W considers and discusses certain topics required by law, such as the reasonable and/or foreseeable effects of the disposal on the area’s fish and wildlife, historic and cultural resources, and Alaska communities.



Best Interest Finding Process


3-AK-i.1 to 3-AK-i.2 - Will the Project Involve the Sale, Lease or Other Disposal of State Land?

Alaska Stat. § 38.05.035(e)’s requirement for a Best Interest Finding applies to the sale, lease or other disposal of state-owned lands, resources, and property, or interests in them.


3-AK-i.3 - Did the Division of Mining, Land and Water Issue a Revocable Permit or a ROW for Roads, Transmission, Etc?

A written Best Interest Finding is not required before the approval of:


3-AK-i.4 - Request Information from Agencies, Local Governments, and Native Corporations

The process of developing a best interest finding begins with a request for information from agencies, local governments, and Native corporations. The ML&W requests information and data about the region’s property ownership status, peoples, economy, current uses, subsistence, historic and cultural resources, fish and wildlife, and other natural resource values.


3-AK-i.5 - Preliminary Written Finding

The ML&W uses the information obtained from the agencies, local governments and Native Corporations, as well as other relevant information that becomes available, to develop a preliminary written finding. The preliminary written finding describes the state-lands at issue, considers and discusses the potential effects of the disposal, describes measures to mitigate those effects, and constitutes the ML&W’s determination that the interests of the state will be best served by the disposal. Alaska Stat. § 35.05.035(e)(5)(A).


3-AK-i.6 - Public Notice and Comment

Once complete, the ML&W makes the preliminary written finding available to the public and provides an opportunity for public comment. Alaska Stat. § 35.05.035(e)(6).

The ML&W must give notice of the disposal of state lands at least 30 days before the action by publication in newspapers of statewide circulation and in newspapers of general circulation in the vicinity of the proposed action and by one or more of the following methods:

  • Publication through public service announcements on the electronic media serving the area affected by the action;
  • Posting in a conspicuous location in the vicinity of the action;
  • Notification of parties known or likely to be affected by the action; or
  • Another method calculated to reach affected persons.

Alaska Stat. § 38.05.945(b)(2).

The ML&W must also provide notice of the disposal of state lands at least 30 days before the action to the following:

  • A municipality if the land is within the boundaries of the municipality, to a coordinating body established by community councils in a municipality if the coordinating body or a community council within the area served by a coordinating body requests notice in writing: if there is no coordinating body within the municipality, notice shall be provided to each community council established by the charter or ordinance of the municipality if the land is located within the boundaries of the municipality and if the community council requests notice in writing;
  • A regional corporation if the boundaries of the corporation as established by 43 U.S.C. §§ 1606(a) § 7(a), Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act encompass the land and the land is outside a municipality;
  • A village corporation organized under 43 U.S.C. §§1607(a) §8(a), Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act if the land is within 25 miles of the village for which the corporation was established and the land is located outside a municipality;
  • The postmaster of a permanent settlement of more than 25 persons located within 25 miles of the land if the land is located outside a municipality, with a request that the notice be posted in a conspicuous location;
  • A nonprofit community organization or a governing body that has requested notification in writing and provided a map of its boundaries if the land is within the boundaries.

Alaska Stat. § 38.05.945(c).


The ML&W must also provide notice of the disposal of state lands at least 30 days before the action to the following:

  • Regional fish and game councils established under Alaska Stat. § 16.05.260 ; and
  • Coastal resource service areas organized under Alaska Stat. § 46.40.110 - 46.40.210.

Alaska Stat. § 38.05.945(d).


3-AK-i.7 - Public Hearings (If Applicable)

In addition, Alaska Stat. § 38.05.946 provides that a municipality, an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) corporation, or nonprofit community organization may hold a hearing, which the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (commissioner) or his representative shall attend. The commissioner may also hold a public hearing, at his or her discretion.


3-AK-i.8 - Review and Revise Preliminary Written Finding as Needed

Once the public comment period is complete, the ML&W reviews the relevant facts and—considering issues known at the time, any comments received, and any mitigating factors—revises the preliminary written finding as needed.

The director of the ML&W (director) may impose additional conditions or limitations in a contract for the disposal of state lands as the director deems necessary, with the consent of the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, to best serve the interests of the state. Alaska Stat. § 38.05.945(d).


3-AK-i.9 - Final Best Interest Finding

The ML&W determines whether or not, on balance, the lease, sale, or disposal of state land is or is not in the state’s best interest and issues a final written finding. The final written finding describes the state-lands at issue, discusses material issues that were raised during the public comment period, considers and discusses the potential effects of the disposal, describes measures to mitigate those effects, and constitutes the Director’s determination that the interests of the state will be best served by the disposal. Alaska Stat. § 35.05.035(e)(5)(A).


3-AK-i.10 - File Request Reconsideration (Optional)?

Any person who “meaningfully participated” in the administrative review process can file a request for reconsideration by the commissioner within 20 days after the ML&W issues the final written finding. Alaska Admin. Code tit. 11, § 02.900. The term "meaningfully participated" means that the person: (1) submitted written comment during a public comment period; or (2) presented oral testimony at a public hearing. Alaska Stat. § 38.05.035(i).


3-AK-i.11 to 3-AK-i.12 – Does the Commissioner Affirm or Modify the ML&W’s Final Written Finding?

The commissioner may affirm the ML&W decision, issue a new or modified decision, or remand the matter to the ML&W for further proceedings. Alaska—Alaska Admin. Code tit. 11, § 02.900, Appeal for Request for Reconsideration Regulations.


3-AK-i.13 – Appeal Final Administrative Order to the Superior Court (Optional)

The commissioner’s decision to affirm the ML&W decision, or to issue a new or modified decision, is considered the final administrative order. Any person who: 1) meaningfully participated in the administrative review process; and 2) requested reconsideration of the director’s final written finding, may appeal the commissioner’s final administrative order to the superior court, in accordance with Alaska Admin. Code tit. 11, § 02.900.


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