Murkowski: Lands Package Addresses Alaska Priorities

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, yesterday reintroduced a bipartisan package of more than 100 public lands, natural resources, and water bills. Murkowski, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and one of the four primary negotiators for the package, ensured it reflects a wide range of Alaska priorities.

“While we weren’t able to pass this bipartisan package at the end of the last Congress, its provisions remain important, and we will have an opportunity to take it up early this year,” Murkowski said. “From authorizing land allotments for Alaska Native Vietnam veterans and greater access to federal land for sportsmen, to helping with the right-of-way for the gasline project and the needs of individuals who live in communities like Kake and Utqia?vik, this is a good package for Alaska.”

The lands package – S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act – includes the following provisions of interest to Alaskans:

  • S. 217, the Denali Improvement Act – Provides routing flexibility for the Alaska gasline project in Denali National Park and Preserve.
  • S. 346, the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring Act – Improves the nation’s volcano-related capabilities to help keep communities and travelers safe.
  • S. 733, the Sportsmen’s Act – Promotes access and opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities on federal land.
  • S. 785, the Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act – Introduced by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, to ensure the federal government fulfills its decades-old promise to provide allotments to Alaska Natives who served in the Vietnam War.
  • S. 884, the Small Miner Relief Act – Clarifies that four Alaska miners are to be exempt from the claim maintenance fee assessed by the Bureau of Land Management.
  • S. 1149, the Kake Timber Parity ActRepeals a statutory ban preventing the export of unprocessed logs harvested from lands conveyed to the Kake Tribal Corporation.
  • S. 1486, Ukpea?vik Land Conveyance – Requires the Department of the Interior to convey all right, title, and interest in the sand and gravel resources within and contiguous to the Barrow Gas Field to the Ukpea?vik Iñupiat Corporation.
  • S. 1493, the Chugach Land Study Act – Requires the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to conduct a study to identify the effects that federal land acquisitions have had on Chugach Alaska Corporation’s ability to develop its lands, and to identify options for a possible land exchange with the corporation.
  • S. 1787, the National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization Act – Renews this program, which is run by the U.S. Geological Survey, for five years.

(Bill numbers are from the 115th Congress, although negotiations led to changes in the text of some measures.)

Murkowski negotiated the lands package last fall with the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

The lands package was placed directly on the Senate calendar yesterday through the Rule 14 process. Thanks to an agreement that Murkowski and several other members reached with Senate leadership last year, it will be brought up for expedited consideration early in the new Congress.

The full text of the lands package can be found here. A process document can be found here.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.