SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Land exchange

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


May 11, 2017
Thursday PM

I am pleased with the passage of SB 88 Wednesday morning on the House Floor. The bill, which authorizes a land exchange between the Alaska Mental Health Land Trust Authority and the United States Forest Service, passed the Senate 20-0 and the House 38-1. It parallels federal legislation that our congressional delegation was able to pass earlier this week, and I am proud that the state legislature stepped up to the plate and passed such an important piece of legislation.

The land exchange is a win-win-win: protection of our viewsheds, enhancement of the timber industry, and helping to fund Alaska’s mental health programs.

The bill will protect lands vital to recreation and tourism, such as Ketchikan’s Deer Mountain. At the same time, the swap will make available other lands of comparable value to the timber industry, which will allow for time-sensitive, new-growth logging. Sustaining the timber industry is particularly beneficial to Southeast Alaska’s economy.

Lastly, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority will also gain resources and revenue from these lands to fund programs that serve some of the most vulnerable people in Alaska. The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority provides funding to programs and services across the state that benefit people with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injuries, and substance abuse disorders.

I’m excited to see the positive effects of this bill right in our backyard, from protecting Deer Mountain to enhancing the timber industry to supporting mental health programs.

Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska



Received May 10, 2017 - Published May 11, 2017




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