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WEDNESDAY, NOV. 27, 2013, 6 A.M.

Jimmy Carter to share Alaska parks history with students

Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve was among the 10 national parks created in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. (Erin McKittrick / Ground Truth Trekking)
Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve was among the 10 national parks created in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. (Erin McKittrick / Ground Truth Trekking)

PUBLIC LANDS -- On Monday, students and teachers will get a huge opportunity to hear Jimmy Carter explain an historic federal public lands deal that was big, big, big in every way.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter doubled the size of the National Park System when he signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Students throughout the country can celebrate the anniversary of this landmark bill by joining President Carter on a live webchat on Monday, Dec. 2, from 2-3 p.m. EST.

ANILCA, often called the most significant land conservation measure in the nation's history, protected more than 100 million acres of federal lands in Alaska. It doubled the size of the country’s national park and refuge system and tripled the amount of land designated as wilderness. ANILCA expanded the National Park System by more than 43 million acres. 

Ultra-brief history of Alaska Lands Act:

In 1971, Congess passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), granting 44 million acres of land to the Native groups. In addition, ANCSA designated 80 million acres to study for possible conservation. ANCSA was largely in response to the discovery of oil on the north slope, concern about rampant development as well as the conflict arising over how much claim the indigenous people had to that oil and the other resources around Alasak.

With the completion of the trans-Alaska pipeline in 1977, the debate continued and oil was a bigger issue than ever.

During President Carter's last days as president, he accepted a compromise that ensured Alaska's status as the last frontier. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 provided the following:

  • 10 National Parks and Reserves
  • 2 National Monuments
  • 9 National Wildlife Refuges (Including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR)
  • 2 National Conservation Areas
  • 25 Wild and Scenic rivers

ANILCA expanded three other parks already in existence, including Denali. When all was said and done, 104 million acres were designated for conservation and protection - an area larger than the state of California.​

 The theme for Monday's special event, sponsored by Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia, is Celebrating President and Mrs. Carter and Their Contributions to the National Park Service. President Carter will speak on ANILCA then participate in a question-and-answer period.

About 90,000 students are likely to view the event through Internet2, the U.S. national research and education network.

President Carter will answer questions via video from high school students from Plains High School (Plains, Ga.), Southwest High School (El Centro, Calif.), Sugar Salem High School (Sugar City, Idaho) and Woodrow Wilson Junior High (Dayton, Texas). Schools may view the event via a live web stream or at http://idahoptv.org/INSESSION provided by Idaho Public Television.

Click here for more information about the Presidential Primary Sources Project, a collaborative program sponsored by the U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums, the National Park Service, the Internet2 K20 Initiative.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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