Murkowski Secures Amendment Protecting an Alaska Family’s Cabin from Demolition
“There’s a Family in Alaska That’s Going to Be Helped”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today secured support for an amendment protecting a privately owned subsistence cabin on an Alaska Native veteran allotment in the Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Refuge from demolition by federal land managers. The cabin was built on the edge of a designated wilderness area because of a mistake made by federal land management agencies.
The members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously supported Murkowski’s amendment, which provides an exemption for a subsistence cabin in the Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Refuge that was inadvertently build on the edge of the Andreanoff wilderness area.
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“Every now and again, we do things that are so small that they will never make anybody’s headline, but they make a difference in the life of a family. And there’s a family in Alaska today that is going to be helped because of an amendment that we were able to include,” Murkowski said at Thursday’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee business meeting.
The amendment allows for a one-time exemption to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) to provide William Alstrom ownership to a small plot of federal land in a wilderness area that he was originally issued as a veteran’s allotment.
In 2003, Alstrom applied for an Alaska Native veterans’ allotment under ANCSA. He was granted a parcel of 80 acres within the Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Refuge in 2008, building a small subsistence cabin on the land later that year.
In 2011, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said the allotment had been mistakenly granted on land within a restricted wilderness-designated area and notified Alstrom that the cabin would need to be moved or it would be burned down.
After failing to reach a reasonable settlement with the federal agencies, Alstrom visited Murkowski’s office in November and asked for her help. Murkowski drafted language to resolve the issue and correct the federal government’s mistake by granting Alstrom title to the land. Alstrom also agreed to give up a second allotment parcel in exchange for a similar plot of land outside the wilderness boundary.
“The federal agencies are the ones that made the mistake here and I don’t see why the Alstrom family should have to be punished for their error,” Murkowski said.
Murkowski’s amendment was attached to S. 404, the Green Mountain Lookout Act, originally introduced by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (both D-WA), which provides a similar exemption for a structure to remain on wilderness land in Washington state. The bill was passed out of the energy committee on Thursday and now heads to the full Senate floor for consideration.