Sen. Murkowski Thanks House For Quick Approval
November 19, 2004
"It's been 45 years since Statehood and 33 years since passage of ANCSA and the repeal of the (Alaska Native Land) Allotment Act. Yet under current law and procedures we were at least 20 years from seeing these conveyances completed and by some estimates maybe 85 years or longer away from Alaskans gaining the land that is rightfully theirs," said Murkowski.
"I am pleased to work with Senator Murkowski on this issue. The goal of the bill is to complete the process of making final land conveyances by 2009. It's an excellent bill and it makes no substantive change to what is already in place," said Congressman Young (R-AK).
"This bill will speed up the process greatly so that we can largely complete the conveyance process by the end of the decade," said Murkowski after the House approved the senator's Alaska Land Transfer Acceleration Act (S. 1466) on a unanimous vote. The bill, which passed the Senate Oct. 11, now heads to the President for his signature.
Murkowski, joined by Sen. Ted Stevens, earlier in the 108th Congress proposed the legislation designed to speed up the conveyance of federal lands to the state and Alaska Native Corporations an attempt to complete the transfer of all of Alaska's Statehood selections before the 50th anniversary of Statehood in 2009. The bill includes a number of technical changes to solve a host of land conveyance problems.
The bill is intended to lay out a blueprint for the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to complete the surveying and final title transfer of 89 million acres, 60 million of the Alaska's outstanding 104-million-acre Statehood entitlement and the remaining 29 million acres of the 44 million acres given to Alaska Native Corporations under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The bill also includes measures that will assist in completing the transfer of some 2,500 Native allotment parcels claimed under terms of the 1906 Alaska Native Allotment Act.
The bill was modified extensively by Murkowski prior to Senate passage to address concerns raised by Alaskans during an Anchorage field hearing on the measure in August 2003 and a Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests Washington, D.C. formal hearing on Feb. 12, and to accommodate suggestions made by Democratic staff and environmental groups. Some of the provisions in the final bill:
Murkowski said the measure should accomplish its main goal of helping the federal government complete conveyances of most all of its outstanding land conveyances by the end of this decade.
"Alaskans have waited for two generations to obtain the land we were promised at Statehood. Hopefully that long wait is now at an end," said Murkowski. Additional funding to speed the pace of surveying and conveyance has been proposed in the federal budget for next year to implement the terms of the act.
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