The Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust is dedicated to the preservation and protection of salmon and wildlife habitat of the greater Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska, including the Wood/Tikchik State Park and the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.
Wild Salmon Bring Us Together
Use and sale of private land within our region could be detrimental to the five species of wild Pacific salmon that return each year to our waters. These returning salmon include the world’s largest run of sockeye or “red” salmon. The ecosystem of Bristol Bay is built upon the nutrients that wild salmon bring back from the sea. Wild salmon are the foundation of the subsistence tradition that has sustained our local Native population for thousands of years.
Most of the land within the region that we serve is part of the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, Wood Tikchik State Park (the largest state park in the nation), or owned by Native corporations established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement act of 1971 (ANCSA). However, scattered throughout this region are hundreds of small parcels called Native allotments created through the Alaska Native Allotment Act of 1906. Under that act individual Alaska Natives could select up to 160 acres of land. The 1906 act was extinguished in 1971 with the passage ANCSA, but not before thousands of applications had been filed. The vast majority of these applications were approved by Congress with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. Now twenty years later, downturns in the commercial salmon industry are forcing many Natives to consider selling their allotments. Several allotments have been sold to commercial sport hunting/fishing businesses and developers.
The Land Trust was spearheaded by the Native corporation Choggiung LTD. Choggiung believes commercialization of hundreds of small parcels within this vast region, much of which was set aside for its wilderness values, would result in too much pressure on the resources (moose, caribou, and salmon) upon which so many of its shareholders depend for subsistence and for a livelihood.
Our Trust wants to prevent the habitat degradation that often results from the overdeveloped use of land. We believe most Native allottees would prefer their parcels remain wild because that protects their traditional way of life. But harsh economic conditions strife resulting from many years of depressed salmon prices are forcing many Native families to place their allotments on the market. The Land Trust provides a conservation alternative by which willing sellers can obtain fair market value for their property while ensuring the land in not developed inappropriately.
To learn more about the options available to allottees, please visit the private landowner page.