State and local briefly

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2000

NPRA lease sale brings in $40 million

JUNEAU - The state received $40.2 million from the federal government's spring sale of oil and gas leases in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, Gov. Tony Knowles announced Monday.

The 23-million acre reserve was set aside in 1923 by President Warren G. Harding to ensure a fuel supply for the U.S. Navy. It has been explored but never developed, and the recent development of the nearby Alpine oil field renewed interest.

Knowles began pressing federal officials to develop the reserve in 1996, accompanying Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt on a visit to the remote North Slope area.

In 1998, Babbitt agreed to allow leasing in the 4.6-million acre northeastern corner of the refuge. The sale drew bids on 135 tracts from six companies. The state received a wire transfer Monday from the federal Bureau of Land Management for $40.22 million.

By state law, communities affected by development in the reserve can apply to use the money for essential public facilities that alleviate the impacts of development.

Half of the remaining money will be deposited in the permanent fund, one half of 1 percent will go into the state's Public School Fund; and the rest will go to the general fund.

Kenai officials unhappy with land plan

KENAI - The Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor will likely ask for changes in the state's management plan for about 5 million acres on the Kenai Peninsula.

The plan designates which land the Department of Natural Resources means to keep for wildlife habitat, recreation and gravel for state highways, and which land the borough can select to complete its 156,000-acre land entitlement from the state.

Bruce Talbot, project manager for the Division of Land, said the plan, issued Friday, ``provides a good balance.'' But Kenai Borough Mayor Dale Bagley said that's not the case. ``The state is willing to let us select mountainsides and swamps, but when it comes to valuable land, it seems, that for habitat reasons, the state has closed the door,'' Bagley said.

The plan sets land-use classifications and management intent for 2.2 million acres of state-owned uplands and 3.1 million acres of tidal and submerged lands.

Talbot said it leaves 620,000 acres of uplands available to the borough, of which 157,000 acres are suitable for development. It designates 17,000 acres for settlement, mainly along the existing road system.

Knowles moves highway safety agency

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Tony Knowles has shifted the state's highway safety planning efforts to another agency.

The governor issued an executive order Monday transferring the Alaska Highway Safety Planning Agency from the state Department of Public Safety to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

By law, the governor must introduce executive orders on the first day of the legislative session. The transfer of the Highway Safety Planning Agency was the only executive order transmitted Monday.

Villages share CDQ proceeds

ANCHORAGE - Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. has distributed its first community benefit share of $10,000 to each of its 15 member communities.

The corporation is one of six community development quota organizations that receives allocations of commercial offshore fish stocks to boost economic development in western Alaska.

Villages receiving the money are Brevig Mission, Diomede, Elim, Gambell, Golovin, Koyuk, Nome, St. Michael, Savoonga, Shaktoolik, Stebbins, Teller, Unalakleet, Wales and White Mountain.

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