Climate change may result in more frequent land exchange requests, as management and subsistence resources adjust to climate changes. Land or resource management units may seek to shift their protective management boundaries if the resource(s) they manage change location or habitat. Likewise, villages may look to relocate building sites or subsistence harvest areas, and Alaska Native Corporations may increase future land selections under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).
Refuge boundaries currently may encompass both Federally-owned lands and private lands. By Federal mandate, Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges are not allowed to change in size, but may change in shape. Land exchange projects provide opportunities for Refuges to work in partnership with federal, state, and local governments, private landowners and organizations, and local and national conservation groups. Exchange projects leverage the collective expertise to decrease habitat fragmentation, conserve critical habitat for a variety of wildlife within the National Wildlife Refuge System, and provide access to resources for the public to enjoy.