Murkowski’s public lands bill becomes law

President Trump signs the public lands bill, named in honor of the late Congressman John Dingell, D-Mich. Photo: Shealah Craighead/White House

President Trump has signed into law a massive public lands bill that Sen. Lisa Murkowski has spent years compiling and negotiating.

The bill designates more than a million acres in Western states as “wilderness”  – the highest level of federal protection. It creates new national monuments, and provides better access to public lands for hunters and fishermen nationwide. The bill was a rare bipartisan creation that had interest groups on the right and left applauding its passage.

In Alaska, the bill gives Native veterans of the Vietnam War era another chance to apply for 160-acre allotments, re-opening a program that ended in 1971.

The bill was a conglomeration of dozens of bills, many solving local problems for communities that border federal lands.

The Oval Office signing ceremony was closed to the press. Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young were among the 20 lawmakers who attended.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at

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