Alaska Travel and Transportation
The BLM manages approximately 72 million acres of public lands in Alaska. Most of it is remote, with little or no road access, but there are thousands of miles of trails. While travel may be challenging, access to and across BLM-managed public lands occurs for a variety of reasons:
- recreational access to public lands
- access to resources such as minerals or oil and gas
- access to private inholdings
- access to traditional subsistence areas
The BLM addresses comprehensive travel and transportation management through a land use planning process that produces area specific Resource Management Plans. Each plan considers existing and proposed access needs, and identifies Off-Highway Vehicle area designations for the entire planning area. The three types of Off-Highway Vehicle designations are:
- OPEN - Use of motorized vehicles is unrestricted
- LIMITED - Motorized vehicle use and activities have limitations identified
- CLOSED - Use of motorized vehicles is prohibited year round
These Off-Highway Vehicle, or OHV, area designations apply to all recreational and casual use of motorized vehicles within the planning area. Other types of access across BLM-managed lands, such as rights-of-way and easements, can be authorized with permits.
Typically most BLM-managed public lands are designated as "Limited" with specific motorized use limitations identified. Motorized use limitations can include: seasonal use of a trail or area such as winter only; vehicle weight or size limits; vehicle type restrictions; and limiting motorized use to designated trails and routes. OHV use limitations and closures are used to protect resources, such as frozen and permafrost soils, from damage.
The Alaska Public Lands Information Centers, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, and the Bureau of Land Management public land information offices can help identify land ownership and who to contact for more information on allowable motorized activities.
BLM has developed supplemental guidelines for planning and managing comprehensive travel and transportation on BLM-managed public lands in Alaska. A copy of the Alaska Travel Management Guide (1.8M PDF) is available for download.
You may download copies of the plan here:
Trail Construction and Restoration
The BLM recognizes the importance of access and travel across public lands. As land use plan decisions are implemented, the BLM will identify areas and routes for motorized and non-motorized uses, develop travel maps, and continue to move toward a sustainable transportation system.
Trail building in Alaska is challenging due to the diverse terrain and environmental conditions, such as extensive wetlands and permafrost soils. Most trails are "inherited" from past overland travel and use, and in some cases may require relocation to avoid continued degradation, or developing new trail construction methods where the routes cannot be relocated. Building a sustainable trail reduces impacts to the land and keeps areas from being closed. To accomplish this, BLM has an active trails program to develop sustainable trail systems.
Here are some examples of how BLM is working to provide access to public lands while protecting Alaska's resources.