PUBLISHED: 5:24 PM on Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Murkowski introduces Sealaska land legislation to Senate floor
JUNEAU - Sealaska Corporation announced Sept. 29 that Sen. Lisa Murkowski has introduced a senate bill that will authorize the completion of Sealaska's land entitlement under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

"We are pleased that Senator Murkowski has introduced this land legislation," said Sealaska President and CEO Chris McNeil, Jr. "Over the last 10 plus years, Sealaska has been working with stakeholders to finalize its land selections that provides optimum environmental protection, allows Natives to have greater say in the management of historical and cultural sites in the region and to maintain a significant economic presence in southeast.

"The passage of this legislation is critical to achieve these objectives. The legislation does not give Sealaska anything more than what was promised under ANCSA but provides sustainable opportunities to the region."

Senate Bill 3651 differs from the original House bill introduced by Congressman Don Young. The changes are a result of more than 100 stakeholders meetings attended by senior Sealaska executives and board members. The House bill will also be adjusted as a result.

The legislation will ensure that Sealaska continues to play a pivotal role in the Southeast Alaska economy and the creation of jobs.

Sealaska has said it is committed to providing stability in the Southeast Alaska timber industry and working with the Alaska Forest Association for long term success. The Senate bill authorized selections outside original ANCSA withdrawal areas.

Under the legislation, land selections will include timber land for economic development; economic development land for non-timber based development and cultural and historic sites.

One provision of the Senate bill will provide public access to and through newly acquired timber lands. The legislation enables Sealaska to initiate new strategies that were germinated by it's participation in the Tongass Futures Roundtable.