Feds look to relinquish mineral rich Interior lands to the state

A tract of potentially mineral rich land northeast of Fairbanks is recommended for transfer from federal to state hands. The 709-acre parcel near Fox and the Ft. Knox Gold Mine is being relinquished by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, near where the agency operates a satellite downlink facility. The Bureau of Land Management recently completed an environmental assessment of impacts of relinquishing the property.

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“We have found no potential for significant impacts from the relinquishment and transfer to the state,” Valerie Baxter said. Baxter is with the BLM eastern interior field office.

Baxter said the state has selected the land which, includes mining claims held by the operator of Ft. Knox.

“Because it’s an ANILCA state selection, if it transfers to the state, then the state mining claims will become valid,” Baxter said.

Ft. Knox has explored some of the area in recent years under BLM issued permits. Any additional action on the property after transfer, would be subject to state agency approval. Baxter says that includes anything affecting historic trails which cross the 700-acre parcel.

“If the state decides to do something different up there, then there’s a process that they have to go through based on the fact that those are RS 2477 trails,” Baxter said.

Transfer of the land from the federal government to the state must be authorized by the secretary of the interior. Baxter said that usually takes four to six months.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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