Murkowski Announces Completion of Phase Two of Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Exchange

Exchanged Lands Added to Tongass National Forest Service, Trust Lands to Generate Funds for Mental Health System & Provide Timber

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced the closing of the final portion of phase two of the Alaska Mental Health Trust land exchange. The equal value exchange, between the USDA Forest Service and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (AMHTA), was conducted in two phases with the second phase further divided into two portions. Yesterday, the final portion of the land exchange closed, following an agreement signed by the Trust Land Office and the Forest Service outlining all remaining deliverables to be completed.

“This closing is an important and long overdue step in completing this land exchange between the Forest Service and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Office. The exchange was always needed to provide a timber supply for the remaining timber industry in Southeast, Alaska. That is not the only the benefit from this exchange, however. The exchange will also protect viewsheds and local trails in our communities while raising revenue for mental health services across the state,” said Senator Murkowski. “I was proud to author the legislation accelerating this land exchange and have been pushing for it to stay on track. I will continue to do so until all remaining deliverables are completed.”

Background: Murkowski authored the legislation providing for the land exchange, which was enacted into law in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017. Phase 1 of the land exchange, completed in February of 2019, transferred approximately 2,400 acres of National Forest land at Naukati on Prince of Wales Island to AMHTA in exchange for 2,585 acres of AMHTA land near Ketchikan. This phase protected old growth stands, viewshed and trail lands near Ketchikan for timberlands. Through timber sales on those acquired timberlands the AMHTA raises revenue for mental health services in the state.

The balance of the exchange, Phase 2, was partially completed in April 2020 with conveyance of an additional 1,530 acres of Forest Service land to the AMHTA in Naukati and an additional 3,020 acres (Parcel K-4 on Gravina Island) of AHMTA land to the Forest Service near Ketchikan. The closing marked the completion of the final acreage to be exchanged, approximately 18,450 acres of national forest lands being conveyed to the AMHTA and 17,908 acres of AMHTA land being conveyed to the Forest Service. 

All of the lands for exchange were collaboratively selected through work by local stakeholders, the AMHTA and the Forest Service.