Proposed Alaska Land Exchanges

T-RCED-88-52: Published: Jul 7, 1988. Publicly Released: Jul 7, 1988.

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GAO discussed a proposed land exchange through which: (1) the Department of the Interior would acquire 896,000 acres of Alaska-Native-owned lands in seven Alaska wildlife refuges; and (2) six Alaska Native corporations would receive oil and gas rights on about 166,000 acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). GAO noted that: (1) Interior had the authority to execute the exchange, although the corporations could not exercise the lands' oil and gas rights unless Congress opened ANWR for oil and gas development; (2) about 75 percent of the land Interior would acquire would provide only limited additional wildlife and habitat protection benefits; (3) Interior negotiated an exchange value of $539 million for the land it would acquire, six times the appraised fair market value; (4) the value of the oil and gas tracts that the corporations would acquire was uncertain because of limited geologic information and uncertain economic data; and (5) Interior did not employ generally accepted methods for dealing with uncertainty in lease sales. GAO believes that it is not in the government's best interest to proceed with the land exchange.

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