Landmark Public Lands Package Signed into Law
By MARY KAUFFMAN
March 13, 2019
(SitNews) Washington, D. C. - President Donald J. Trump signed a landmark public lands legislation into law Tuesday securing important wins for Alaska including provisions championed by Alaska's Delegation who were in attendance at the White House for the signing ceremony.
S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, formerly known as the Natural Resources Management Act, is bipartisan legislation containing more than 120 public lands, resources, sportsmen, conservation, and water management bills. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 92 to 8 on February 12, and the House passed it on February 26 by a vote of 363 to 62.
Signing ceremony 03/12/19
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, “I thank President Trump for signing our lands package into law. His effort to achieve energy dominance for our nation while simultaneously working with us to create a conservation legacy with this lands package exceeds the accomplishments of his recent predecessors.”
Murkowski said, “This law will benefit every state and clear the deck of issues that we’ve been working to resolve for years. From providing access for sportsmen to creating new economic opportunities for local communities, this is a good, balanced measure. We built it through a team effort that drew strong support from both parties in both chambers. Today is a triumph for good process and good policy, and this bill is a win for Alaskans and all Americans.”
U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) also thanked President Donald J. Trump for signing the legislation which includes a version of Senator Sullivan’s Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act. This provision will allow several thousand Alaska Natives who served during the Vietnam era (or their heirs) to apply for their congressionally-promised Native allotment after they missed their initial opportunity to do so because of their service to the country.
Congressman Don Young, Republican Leader of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, joined his Alaska Delegation colleagues and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Oval Office at the White House for the signing ceremony.
“Unlike most other states, the Federal Government largely owns and controls a majority of Alaska’s land. Since I arrived in Congress, I have been fighting to return control of our land to those who know and treasure it best: Alaskans,” said Congressman Don Young (R-AK). “I am pleased that this bill includes provisions that will allow Alaskans to develop energy on their lands and allows for greater exportation of Alaska timber. This bill also makes good on Congress’ promise of land allotments to our Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans. I applaud my friends on both sides of the aisle for making this legislation a reality, and I am grateful to President Trump for signing it into law.”
After attending the signing ceremony Tuesday, Senator Sullivan visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to deliver a message to Alaskans about this historic achievement for Alaska’s Native Vietnam veterans.
Murkowski and former Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), introduced S. 47 in January 2019. Current Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV), and 13 other Senators are cosponsors. Murkowski and Cantwell negotiated the package in the 115th Congress with then-Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), and then-Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)., of the House Committee on Natural Resources. The vast majority of bills within it underwent extensive public process and review in the House, the Senate, or both.
S. 47 contains provisions sponsored by 50 Senators and cosponsored by nearly 90 Senators in the 115th Congress. Those include measures to:
- Permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with key reforms to strengthen its state-side program;
- Increase access and opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities on federal lands;
- Provide for economic development in dozens of communities through land exchanges and conveyances;
- Improve western water management by increasing local control, promoting investment, and facilitating the recovery of endangered species; and
- Conserve treasured landscapes in communities, where such designations are locally supported.
The bill includes the following provisions of interest to Alaskans:
- Denali Improvement Act – Provides routing flexibility for the Alaska gasline project in Denali National Park and Preserve.
- Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act – Introduced by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, to ensure the federal government fulfills its decades-old promise to provide allotments to Alaska Natives who served in the Vietnam War. Congressman Don Young previously sponsored Alaska Native land allotment legislation last Congress, and has worked closely with Former Senior Vice President of the Alaska Federation of Natives, Nelson Angapak, on this legislative solution.
- National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring Act – Improves the nation’s volcano-related capabilities to help keep communities and travelers safe.
- Sportsmen’s Act – Requires federal agencies to expand and enhance sportsmen’s opportunities on federal lands; makes “open unless closed” the standard for Forest Service and BLM lands; facilitates the construction and expansion of public target ranges, including ranges on Forest Service and BLM lands; and clarifies procedures for commercial filming on federal lands.
- Small Miner Relief Act – Provides relief to four Alaska miners who lost long standing claims due to administrative errors or oversight.
- Kake Timber Parity Act – Repeals a statutory ban preventing the export of unprocessed logs harvested from lands conveyed to the Kake Tribal Corporation.
- Ukpeagvik Land Conveyance – Requires the Department of the Interior to convey all right, title, and interest in the sand and gravel resources within and contiguous to the Barrow Gas Field to the Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation.
- Chugach Land Study Act – Requires the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to conduct a study to identify the effects that federal land acquisitions have had on Chugach Alaska Corporation’s ability to develop its lands, and to identify options for a possible land exchange with the corporation.
- National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization Act – Renews this program, which is run by the U.S. Geological Survey, for five years.
- Land and Water Conservation – Permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with key reforms to strengthen and provide parity for its state-side program.
On the Web:
S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act
Source of News:
Office of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Office of U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan
Office of Congressman Don Young
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