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Thread: Land Ownership in Southeast Alaska - The start point of my Alaskan Adventure

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    Default Land Ownership in Southeast Alaska - The start point of my Alaskan Adventure

    My Wife and I have had a long dream of heading to Alaska and have decided that next year is going to be it! We are just starting the planning and step one (determining what to hunt/fish) has been completed. We are going to target Blacktail Deer with maybe a chance to do some fishing in nearby creeks/rivers.

    Now in order to figure out where to go, we have been doing some research and locating an area with a solid amount of public is key to us since we are going to doing this adventure on our own.

    I was wondering if there is a good way to find out whether the land I intend on venturing off to is private or public. I started with using the MVUM's that the Tongass National Forest produces and it is a good point to start with as they show where the "national forest land" is within the "national forest". I'm curious though if there is a way to find out who owns the "non-national forest land" in case it is owned by the state and is open to public hunting/fishing (see the white land by Indian creek road). I have attached an image to help describe my point. I took the snip from the craig district area on Prince of Wales Island.

    Where I live in Wisconsin, each county has a "GIS" mapping platform that clearly breaks down each land parcel with information about taxes and ownership. Is there anything like this that I can use for Southeast Alaska? I can't seem to find anything.

    Thanks for any help in advance. I look forward to networking on this forum as from all of research so far, it seems every google search leads me to this website with a lot of the same helpful forum users providing quite helpful and insightful information.
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    Member ramhunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeth07 View Post
    My Wife and I have had a long dream of heading to Alaska and have decided that next year is going to be it! We are just starting the planning and step one (determining what to hunt/fish) has been completed. We are going to target Blacktail Deer with maybe a chance to do some fishing in nearby creeks/rivers.

    Now in order to figure out where to go, we have been doing some research and locating an area with a solid amount of public is key to us since we are going to doing this adventure on our own.

    I was wondering if there is a good way to find out whether the land I intend on venturing off to is private or public. I started with using the MVUM's that the Tongass National Forest produces and it is a good point to start with as they show where the "national forest land" is within the "national forest". I'm curious though if there is a way to find out who owns the "non-national forest land" in case it is owned by the state and is open to public hunting/fishing (see the white land by Indian creek road). I have attached an image to help describe my point. I took the snip from the craig district area on Prince of Wales Island.

    Where I live in Wisconsin, each county has a "GIS" mapping platform that clearly breaks down each land parcel with information about taxes and ownership. Is there anything like this that I can use for Southeast Alaska? I can't seem to find anything.

    Thanks for any help in advance. I look forward to networking on this forum as from all of research so far, it seems every google search leads me to this website with a lot of the same helpful forum users providing quite helpful and insightful information.
    That Indian creek area is state ground (Mental Health maybe?) they put a logging road in there around 8 years ago, via a bridge across the Harris River, they pulled the bridge out a year or two ago, so there is no way to access it other than crossing by foot if the Harris River when is low, or raft/boat across.

    The state lied to the residents of POW/Hollis saying that they would leave the bridge in for access to that area after they were done logging, which they didnít!
    Johnnie (Muskeg) knows more about it, as he lives two miles from the area! We lived in Hollis for years , but moved to Wasilla 5 years ago!
    "Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous" ~ Reinhold Messner

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    Well through further research of trying to find a way to determine land ownership, I have found that a lot of the non-national forest land is owned by "native organizations" such as Sealaska. A look on their website and I found a spot where it states:

    LOCAL ACCESS

    Myth: Public access to Sealaskaís lands is prohibited.

    Fact: Sealaska does not prohibit use of our land by the public however we do need to regulate use of our roads for safety and other reasons; therefore our signs ask that you call us for information. Please read more about our Land Access policy here

    However, there is no link and a google search to try and find it has come up blank. In doing so however, I have found some people stating that there is private property postings on some of their land and they are not very friendly about people using it.

    Any thoughts on what I'm uncovering?

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeth07 View Post
    Any thoughts on what I'm uncovering?
    Policies may change over time, depending on who's in charge, so the website may not be kept up to date. If it were me, I would send the Sealaska natural resource folks a polite email explaining what/when/where I was interested in; that I don't want to inadvertently trespass, and inquire if any of their land is open for hunting, and go from there. If you get a positive response, print the correspondence giving you permission for whatever, and be sure to keep it with you while in the field. http://www.sealaska.com/who-we-are/contact-us
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    You're making it quite a bit more difficult than it really is. Just stay away from any residential areas (not many) and find out the current native corp. policy. About 95% of SE is USFS, there is quite a bit of native land on the south end of POW, and there are scattered areas of State land (open to the public)

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    Quote Originally Posted by wags View Post
    You're making it quite a bit more difficult than it really is.
    Wags, I'm not trying to make it difficult on myself, I'm just trying to do the right thing and make sure I don't end up somewhere where I'm not supposed to be. Here where I live in Wisconsin, trespassing is a big deal and with fines of up to 50k and/or jail time, it just aint worth the chance at an animal/fish.

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    Here are a few links that might be helpful. Alaska does have a GIS mapping platform. However, sometimes it is awkward to use in certain areas. Just have to zoom into the area you are interested in and see. http://dnr.alaska.gov/MapAK/ Here is another link to some helpful resources: http://www.asgdc.state.ak.us/

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    Gutleap,

    I have been to the dnr.alaska.gov site and have been looking at the ownership platform. It is rather difficult to use and understand and maybe by playing with it a bit more, I'll get it figured out. Specifically right now, I'm looking at Prince of Wales Island as that seems to be at the top of my list as a destination point.

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    Seeth,

    Alaska, unlike the lower 48, is mostly public land. actually the law states that private land must me marked no tresspassing! (if the owner dosen't mark it he dosen't have much legal power over you!) I would email seaalaska http://www.sealaska.com/ and ask them ( the native corps often post in newspapers stateing their no trespassing laws) cause other then that you should be fine. Go shoot some deer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKducks View Post
    Go shoot some deer!
    That's the plan! In Wisconsin, we still hunt our deer and it can get boring at times. This last weekend was our opening weekend of gun hunting and after sitting two whole days in sub-freezing weather with heavy snow at times, I saw a total of 5 deer. Only 1 of which I was able to shoot at and got.

    So I guess I will re-focus my attention away from looking at whether or not the land is private/public. I guess the next main question is where to specifically look for deer in early September. From what I've understood so far, looking up high in the 2000-3000 foot range seems to be a good start point correct?

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    http://sdms.ak.blm.gov/sdms/

    When talking about federal actions that involve native corporation lands and allotments the BLM is the source to look at. click on the above link and then click on the icon of AK with blue layers. That will open up the state wide map. It will not show much private ownership outside native allotments. It will show all state and federal lands. Due to funding restrictions they may not have the most recent survey data mapped for the most recent conveyance actions.

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    Contact the forest service office in ketchikan, and buy a logging road map. Land ownership is shown to an extent on the map and it will also help you navigate the island, and is really helpful with planning a hunt.

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    WOW AK RAY YOU THE MAN! I did not find that site anywhere in my search for land records and that mapping program is perfect! Shows the federal/state/private land extremely well.

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    The BLM SDMS site only has the land status down to the section level. What that means is that if there is more than one land owner in a section (1 mile square) then it will only show one color. Generally that is all you need to know, because federal land is usually conveyed to the State or Native corporations by whole section.

    If you're looking at an area that is close to a road or river, there may be native allotments that you need to be aware of. These are private lands that were conveyed to Alaska Natives in a program much akin to homesteading. You can see native allotment parcels on the SDMS map by clicking on the Land Status - Detailed folder and turning on the native allotments layer.

    Finally, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) established a land entitlement to Alaska Native corporations all over the state. One aspect of that act provided for the reservation of easements across the ANCSA private land if that is the only way to access public lands. This is an often confusing and contentious issue but if you are looking to get into some public lands a trail going through private land may be the only way to get there.

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    In the detailed folder, if I just turn on the "private" layer is that a pretty good assumption that everything else is accessable for public use provided that the native land in the area is available for public use?

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Policies may change over time, depending on who's in charge, so the website may not be kept up to date. If it were me, I would send the Sealaska natural resource folks a polite email explaining what/when/where I was interested in; that I don't want to inadvertently trespass, and inquire if any of their land is open for hunting, and go from there. If you get a positive response, print the correspondence giving you permission for whatever, and be sure to keep it with you while in the field. http://www.sealaska.com/who-we-are/contact-us
    Lucky for you I used to work in the Natural Resources Department as the NR Planner. Sealaska's open access policy still stands as open to the public. This only applies to Sealaska Land. There are still multiple village corporation land holdings on POW and they have closed access to non shareholders. The majority of Sealaska's lands on POW is the the Big Salt/Black Bear Hydro area beginning just past the airport.

    Sobie2

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    Hunt the alpine like you mentioned from August into September. After the first heavy frosts (as soon as the alpine turns red) the deer will head down into the timber and be pretty hard to hunt until the rut in November. It sounds like you're on the right track time-wise, maybe aim a little earlier into the last week of August.
    If you're hunting in the alpine I'd bet my last dollar you won't have any trespass issues.

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    Right now I'm currently looking around the West Cholmondeley Sound area. It appears to be a bit more secluded from road hunters. The reason behind an early September trip is because we are hoping to hit a time when we might have a couple options as far as what to do. We put in to try and get a fall bear tag and that doesn't start till Sept. 1st. One day climbing into the alpine to hunt deer, the next wonder the streams and rivers looking for salmon to fish and maybe see a bear. Although we are pretty fit and active, a 7 day alpine hunt sounds exhausting! However, I really look forward to climbing into the alpine and taking in the scenery from up high!

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    Quote Originally Posted by seeth07 View Post
    One day climbing into the alpine to hunt deer
    I think you'll regret it if you only dedicate one day to this. You'll get up there and realize how great it is and wish you allotted more time. Also, you'll realize the time taken to get up there (and back down at the end of the day) cuts deeply into your hunting time. If you're pretty fit, you can climb up there, spend a few days, and climb back down just as easily as you can climb up there, frantically chase deer, and climb back down the same day. Multiple days is actually easier, in my opinion. And better.

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    I was just stating an example. We are planning a 7-10 day trip and the actually schedule during that trip will all be up as we experience it. We are backpack campers so where ever we are when it turns dark, is where we sleep.

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