Land selections for two Alaska Native corporations in defense bill

A map of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The land that's included in the defense bill is near Wainwright. Image from Bureau of Land Management

Two Alaska Native corporations would benefit from land selections under the controversial National Defense Authorization Act.

Section 3001 authorizes the Interior Department to transfer 1,518 acres within the National Petroleum Reserve to the Olgoonik Corporation. The corporation will pay "fair market" for the land, according to the bill.

The House passed the land deal as part of H.R.5167 last month. The bill never got through the Senate so the defense package represents the best shot for it.

A view of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Photo from US Forest Service / Facebook

Section 3002 authorizes Sealaska to select about 70,000 acres it is entitled to under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. The land is within the Tongass National Forest so the transfer has been controversial among some environmental groups.

“I have no higher priority than empowering Alaska Native Corporations to improve the rural Alaska economy, and it’s great to see these measures near the finish line," outgoing Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said in a press release.

“This package includes important provisions that will boost communities throughout our state, including the settlement and finalization of lands issues in Southeast Alaska, the conveyances of land for community development in Anchorage, and at Fort Wainwright,” added Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in a press release.

The House passed the 1,648-page defense package last week. It's expected to clear the Senate this week.

Get the Story:
Defense bill includes Sealaska land-transfer provisions (AP 12/3)
Sealaska lands legislation could move with defense bill (APRN 12/4)
Sealaska nears completion of land deal in Defense act (The Alaska Journal of Commerce 12/4)
Sealaska nears final land claim (The Juneau Empire 12/4)
Defense bill will include Native corporation land deal, military projects (The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 12/4)

Some Opinions:
Editorial: Sealaska land deal should move forward (The Juneau Empire 12/7)
Chuck Legge: I'm just a bill... (The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman 12/7)