"Expanding Alaska's marine parks to include Juneau's channel islands provides a wonderful opportunity for groups that build and maintain campsites, public use cabins, and outhouses on Alaska's public lands," Representative Kerttula said. "The Territorial Sportsmen have made tremendous contributions in other marine parks, like the public use cabin they built in St. James Bay."
The bills, introduced by Elton in the Senate and Kerttula in the House, also add much of the north and east sides of Shelter Island to the parks, which already include part of the island.
"These islands are beautiful and varied," Elton said. "They range from Lincoln and Shelter, where Juneau residents hunt deer, to Indian and Suedla, which are just barely big enough for a picnic."
"Generations of Alaskans have enjoyed seeing seals and sea lions hauled out on Little Island," he added. "And the shores of Coghlan and Portland Islands are a priceless part of the view from Juneau's shores."
Elton said the legislation is an idea whose time has come. Similar bills were introduced by former Lt. Governor Fran Ulmer while she served in the House, and by former Rep. Caren Robinson, who represented Juneau's valley district. "We've learned over time that access to recreational areas is an important component of our local economy."
The bills, SB 190 and HB 292, were referred to House and Senate Resources and Finance committees for hearings in the 2006 legislative session.
Developed in consultation with the state Division of Parks, the bills exclude private landholdings from addition to the Marine Parks. The bills are supported by the Juneau Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and the Juneau Area State Parks Advisory Committee. The state Division of Parks says it can manage the park without increased cost to the state.