Murkowski speaks on Chugach Land Exchange, Cape Fox Entitlement, and Alaska Native Vietnam Vet Allotments during Senate Energy Hearing

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) a senior member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, participated in a Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Subcommittee Hearing to receive testimony on 20 bills, including three Alaska-specific bills which are either sponsored or co-sponsored by Senator Murkowski.

  • S. 4310, to exchange non-Federal land held by the Chugach Alaska Corporation for certain Federal Land in the Chugach Region, and for other purposes;
  • S. 3617, to provide equitable treatment for the people of the Village Corporation established for the Native Village of Saxman, Alaska, and for other purposes;
  • S. 3790, to make additional Federal public land available for selection under the Alaska Native Vietnam era veterans land allotment program, and for other purposes.

Senator Murkowski began her remarks by discussing her legislation, S.4310, the Chugach Alaska Land Exchange and Oil Spill Recovery Act, which she introduced alongside U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Representative Mary Peltola (D-AK). This legislation directs a fair land exchange between Chugach Alaska and the federal government that addresses a report’s findings, permanently conserves the oil spill program lands, and provides Chugach and its shareholders a fair resolution of their ANCSA claims.

“In 1989, one of the worst environmental disasters in history occurred with the Exxon Valdez oil spill. That spill devastated the Chugach region on many levels—not just environmentally, but socially and economically. The government recovery efforts, though well-intentioned, also had negative impacts and did not always include the voices of the Alaska Native people who have stewarded these lands for millennia,” said Senator Murkowski. “The people of this region and the environment are still recovering, 35 years later.”

Senator Murkowski then discussed her legislation, S.3617, Cape Fox Land Entitlement Finalization Act, which she introduced alongside Senator Sullivan and Representative Peltola.

“This bill waives an existing statutory requirement in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that restricted Cape Fox Corporation from making selections within six miles of the boundary of the city of Ketchikan, to allow for the conveyance of the surface estate to a 180-acre tract in the Tongass National Forest. Conveyance of this tract would allow Cape Fox to consolidate its land holdings in the area and ultimately connect the Mahoney Lake hydro site to the Beaver Falls Power Grid,” said Senator Murkowski.

Senator Murkowski concluded her remarks with S.3790, Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment Extension and Fulfillment Act, which she co-sponsored alongside Senator Sullivan. Within the 2019 Dingell Act, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan worked to include a new program to enable Alaska Native Vietnam veterans to finally select the land allotments that they missed out on while serving in the U.S. military. Unfortunately, the provision had partisan objections to making certain lands available for selection during the 2019 process. As a direct result, many veterans have been unable to select allotments in their region. This bill would open up for selection Fish and Wildlife Refuge lands identified by Fish and Wildlife and require the Forest Service to similarly identify lands for selection.

“In the southeast Alaska alone, there are over 500 Alaska Native vets who have not filed for allotments because there are no lands whatsoever where they live available for selection. If you live in Angoon — and I heard this just this weekend — you don’t want your Native allotment in Tok. This is hundreds of miles across the state of Alaska. It makes no sense, comes at great personal expense, and takes you directly away from your ancestral lands to lands that you don’t know and don’t have any ties to. What we are asking for is a reasonable solution,” said Senator Murkowski. “These veterans want lands that they have hunted and fished for millennia. They deserve it.”

For video of Senator Murkowski’s full opening statement, click here.

Related Issues: Energy, Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska