UNIVERSITY LANDS BILL FAILS THE UNIVERSITY, HARMS ALASKANS AND COMMUNITIES
First, a little background: the lands to be conveyed to the university were selected through unpublicized negotiations between the university and the Department of Natural Resources during the past year. None of the communities in which these lands are located were notified or included in the selection process. During House Resources Committee hearings on the bill, communities and individuals expressed reservations concerning the lack of public process and outright opposition to the parcel selections.
A particularly egregious example of circumventing public process is the
This parcel is currently leased by the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation for the Kodiak Launch Complex. A public road running through the KLC has allowed historic access to some of the best recreational and subsistence lands on our road system since the road was constructed in the 1940’s. In the past year, AADC has attempted to expand their management authority by 14,000 acres and restrict access to
Other communities, who, like Kodiak, have limited road systems, fear the loss of public use of state lands in or near their communities. Once these lands leave public ownership, they can be “locked up” by private landowners, restricting or even prohibiting what has been long-time traditional and historical use of these public areas.
Overall, the bill provides minimal financial benefit, discourages serious financial support, doesn’t maximize land value, and gives the University a bad name.
Added to these concerns is the fact that Senator Lisa Murkowski has introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate, S.293, to grant the university 250,000 acres of federal land with an additional selection of 250,000 acres if Alaska HB 130/SB 96 passes. Between the federal and state bills, three quarters of a million acres of public land would be in danger of being locked up for private development without public input. After DNR’s and the university’s behavior in Kodiak, I can’t see
HB 130 is a bad bill and amendments and tinkering won’t fix it. It should die in committee. Governor Murkowski, DNR, and UA need to start over with a fully public process for determining lands to be chosen for conveyance