Sitnews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska - Opinions


State Endorses Federal Land Conveyance Proposals
Will Facilitate Conveyance of Land to State and Natives


August 07, 2003

Juneau - The state director of the Division of Mining, Land and Water Wednesday morning told a Senate hearing in Anchorage that Alaska strongly supports three bills now pending in the U.S. Senate that are aimed at largely completing, by 2009, the transfer of lands selected by the state and Native Corporations. The year 2009 will be the 50th anniversary of Alaska Statehood.

Director Bob Loeffler said the large land entitlement granted at statehood is yet to be completed. The state was promised over 105 million acres, "yet we still await the transfer of 15 million acres and the survey and patent of nearly 60 million acres."

The deadline for filing most Native allotments was 32 years ago, he noted, "yet thousands of allottees still are waiting for final approval of their allotments."

Loeffler said that 32 years after the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Native corporations still await transfer of almost 10 million acres and the survey and patent to many million more acres.

"Alaskans, including individual Native allottees, Native corporations and the citizens of the state have waited too long for these land transfers to be completed," Loeffler said.

He explained that the large amount of acreage yet to be transferred is having a chilling effect on development in some areas of the state because "secure land title is a fundamental prerequisite to development." Confusion about the eventual owner puts any significant exploration or investment on hold until the ownership is established, he said.

"Resolving these entitlements will make land available to individual Alaskans for their personal use and enjoyment, and to the corporations and the state to encourage the use and development of Alaska's lands," said Loeffler.

Legislation pending before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will improve land transfer procedures and rules and remove many of the barriers that have slowed the land-transfer process.

S1466, authored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, is designed to remove barriers to the conveyance process. According to Loeffler, unless these barriers are removed the state is concerned it will never resolve its remaining enitlement.

"The interactions of entitlements for allottees, ANCSA Corporations, and the state, and with lingering, outdated public land orders, combined as well with insufficient funding to take a comprehensive look at any area of the state, has resulted in a system that cannot untangle this complex web in any timely or reasonable way."

He said the solution "takes some different thinking, different ways of doing business and additional funding to finish the entitlements and finish the promise made to Alaska's Natives and other citizens some decades ago."

Sen. Murkowski's bill, S 1466, would solve the many problems, he said.

The state also went on record today endorsing two other bills: S1421 and S1354. The first would allow individuals Native allottees to legally subdivide their allotments. The second would enable the Cape Fox Corporation, the Sealaska Regional Corporation and the U.S. Forest Service to pursue land exchanges that would resolve a long-standing inequity and make land available for use and development.


Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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