To Solicit Views On Cape Fox Land Exchange Bill
September 17, 2003
The town meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the ANB Hall, 320 Willoughby Ave. downtown. Under the format, the Senator is asking four groups to present their comments on the legislation: Cape Fox Native Village Corp. of Saxman, Sealaska Native Regional Corp. based in Juneau, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and the group, Friends of Berners Bay. After they present their views, all people who wish to speak will be given between 2 and 3 minutes to express themselves on the merits of the proposed legislation.
While the town meeting is not a formal congressional hearing, individuals will be given the option when they sign in of having their comments submitted for the record by the Senator when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a second formal hearing on the land bill sometime later this autumn. Sign-in, which will be required for individuals who wish to speak, will start at 8:30 a.m. at the hall.
The goal will be to start the town meeting exactly at 9:30 a.m., unless the senator is delayed in arriving because of transportation issues caused by Hurricane Isabel's arrival on the East Coast on Friday.
"While congressional hearings usually are limited in scope, it was clear during my August visit to Juneau that a number of residents wanted to present their views on this bill. It also was clear that there might be some misunderstandings about what the bill does and doesn't do, so it made sense to come, explain the bill and give residents a more complete opportunity to express themselves," said Murkowski.
The bill, (S. 1354), is intended to solve an inequity where Saxman's Cape Fox village corporation was never able to select sufficiently valuable lands to fulfill its entitlement under terms of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Cape Fox was restricted from selecting lands within six miles of the boundary of the home rule City of Ketchikan. All other ANCSA corporations were restricted from selecting within two miles of a home rule city.
The bill allows Cape Fox to select 99 acres of timber land adjacent to its existing holdings on Revilla Island at Ketchikan, in return for giving up its obligation to select 160 acres near Ketchikan. The bill also authorizes an exchange of up to 2,900 acres of corporation land near George Inlet on Revilla Island for approximately 2,600 acres of National Forest System land near Berners Bay, north of Juneau.
The Forest Service has an interest in acquiring the George Inlet parcels for wildlife and recreation purposes. The lands to be selected by Cape Fox near Slate Lakes, north of Berners Bay, will enable the proposed Jualin and Kensington Gold Mines to operate totally on private land, boosting Juneau's economy and helping Native shareholders throughout the region. The bill also provides the opportunity to clean up a substantial amount of split estate, which is difficult for the Forest Service to manage.
The exchange is not crucial to the mine's development since it can proceed on the patented claims in the area regardless of the outcome of the legislation.
According to the news release, if the town meeting has to be cancelled on short notice because of the inability of the Senator to reach Juneau because of the hurricane, the session will be attempted to be rescheduled for early October.
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