BLM publishes Public Land Order for a 20-year withdrawal for Tongass National Forest’s Mendenhall Glacier


Bureau of Land Management

Media Contact:

A glacier behind glacial lake between tree-filled mountains
A photo of Mendenhall Glacier in December 2022. The glacier has been in receding since the 1700s at the end of the last mini-ice age. U.S. Forest Service photo.


ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Bureau of Land Management published a Public Land Order today withdrawing lands around the receding Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska. The order affects approximately 4,560 acres of National Forest System lands within the Tongass National Forest to provide protection for this popular recreation destination.  

Mendenhall Glacier is one of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers. The Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area is home to a busy visitor center, hiking trails and viewpoints. A key attraction in Alaska, the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area receives about 700,000 visitors annually with a projected increase of 2-4 percent each year. The U.S. Forest Service requested the 20-year withdrawal to protect the recreational use and scenic integrity, while providing for future Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area facility development.  

The land withdrawal aligns with the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, which supports the goal of conserving 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. 

The boundaries of the adjacent existing withdrawal include an area previously covered by Mendenhall Glacier, which has been receding since the end of the last mini-ice age in the 1700s. According to the State of Alaska, Alaska’s glaciers are among the fastest melting glaciers on the planet, with Alaska warming twice as fast as the rest of the country over the past several decades.   

The glacier is expected to retreat from view of the existing visitor center by 2050. The new withdrawal establishes protection for areas becoming accessible as the glacier recedes. The glacier’s retreat is also opening new ecosystems in the area, making salmon, bears and other wildlife more prevalent. The glacier’s retreat makes it necessary to withdraw newly exposed lands to preserve these unique habitats, natural resources and setting. 

The withdrawal is consistent with the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area 2019 Master Plan, which was developed to respond to these changes, capitalize on new opportunities, meet visitation needs over the next 20 years and provide a vision for the next 50 years.  

Public Land Order No. 7922 withdraws the recreation area until June 2, 2043. 

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.