MURKOWSKI STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF OMNIBUS PUBLIC LANDS BILL
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today applauded the Senate’s passage of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act by a 73-21 vote. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives before being delivered to the president’s desk for signing.
“This lands package is hugely beneficial to individual communities not only around the country, but especially in Western states where the federal government owns more land and it has been less developed,” Murkowski said. “For far too long this omnibus bill has been blocked in the Senate to the detriment of communities that rely on the federal government to help them develop their economy, protect and preserve the environment and provide access to basic necessities.”
The bipartisan package contains more than 160 public lands bills, including a number of provisions of significance to Alaska.
The bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to determine whether a land exchange between the state of Alaska and the King Cove Native Corporation and the U.S. Department of the Interior is in the public interest. The exchange has been sought by for more than 20 years by local residents to allow construction of a road to reach the Cold Bay airport.
“Many residents of King Cove have been stranded in emergency situations, unable to access the airport just across the bay due to inclement weather,” said Murkowski. “The proposed road through the refuge to the all-weather airport at Cold Bay would be narrow and unobtrusive. I believe that this exchange is more than fair.”
• An amendment to the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act that would authorize the federal coordinator to establish fees that could be spent without further appropriation from Congress for activities authorized under current law.
• Language granting competitive status for certain federal employees in Alaska, allowing local hire within the National Park Service. The provision amends the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act to allow Alaska residents who work on a part-time or temporary basis for the federal land management agencies in Alaska to be given preference when applying for full-time positions.
• A provision allowing for the establishment of a Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area to promote local tourism. The provision would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to provide $1 million a year, for a maximum of $10 million over 15 years, to promote tourism of the Kenai Fjords National Park and Turnagain Arm.
• Land conveyance to City of Coffman Cove. Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to convey to the city of Coffman Cove a 12-acre parcel of U.S. Forest Service-owned land within the city.