Buying a slice of The Greatland: How to buy state-owned land in Alaska

Screenshot from the home page of Alaska Land Sales, Division of Mining, Land and Water under the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. The parcels pictured are located three miles NE of North Pole, Alaska and range from 5 to 13 acres with road access. Prices range from $63,300 to $38,600.

My first question when I learned that Alaskans can still acquire state land was to ask if that was through homesteading. The answer is no, though probably because of history, that myth or question persists. Homesteading officially ended in Alaska in 1986, 10 years after it ended in other states. That reprieve for Alaska was based on its late entry into the union and a need to settle the 49th state.

But news coverage of Alaska muddies the water. A 1974 New York Times article proclaimed “Homesteading is at End in Alaska.” Yet a 1988 article in the same publications heralded the lifestyle as ongoing: “Homesteading is still alive in Alaska.

Experts in Alaska Land Sales, part of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, confirm that Alaska no longer offers homesteading. But it does offer three ways to acquire land:

Annual “Sealed-bid” Land Auctions: the current offering of 110 parcels opened March 4 and closes June 11. Winning bids will be announced June 24. Offerings include: “From road-accessible parcels near Anchorage and Fairbanks, to remote lots on wilderness lakes, this offering features a wide selection of parcels.” Only Alaska residents can participate in these auctions.

Over-the-counter land sales: As of March 2020, DNR had 90 parcels available. These are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Parcels that do not sell in the sealed-bid auction may become available over-the-counter. Businesses, corporations and non-residents (as well as residents) qualify for OTC purchases.

Remote Recreational Cabin Sites Staking Program: Alaska residents can stake a parcel of state land in a designated RRCS Staking area, lease the land until DNR completes the survey and appraisal, and then purchase the land at market value. This year, 4 areas are being offered: Innoko II, approximately 65 miles northwest of McGrath and 65 miles south of Galena, Kantishna II, approximately 70 air miles west of Fairbanks, Mankomen Lake, between the Chistochina and Slana Rivers, and Redlands II, along the Chitanana River.

On this edition of Hometown Alaska, we’ll discuss all three. We’ll also find out the status of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposal to allow Alaskans to apply their PFD toward purchase of Alaska land.

HOST: Kathleen McCoy

GUESTS:

  • Hannah Rose Uherkoch, Alaska Land Sales lead, DNR
  • Rachel Longacre, section chief, Alaska Land Sales, DNR

LINKS:

PARTICIPATE:

  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air
  • LIVE: Monday, May 4, 2020 at 2:00 p.m
  • RE-AIR: Monday, May 4, 2020 at 8:00 p