Land trade may yeild bigger parcel for family hoping to build near Eaglecrest

Swap involves Forest Service land, site near Hood Bay

Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2000

An Angoon family will get more than initially expected in a trade of the family's Admiralty Island in-holding for land near Eaglecrest Ski Area.

When the deal is complete, the George family plans to build several homes, a commercial lodge, a restaurant and some rentals on the property, which is near Fish Creek.

The U.S. Forest Service has been negotiating the land swap with Gabriel George for several years. The George family owns about 100 acres on the south arm of Hood Bay, in the middle of the Admiralty Island National Monument.

``When we initially started this land exchange, the estimate was that the land near Eaglecrest was twice as valuable as the land near Hood Bay,'' said Brad Flynn, lands and minerals resource assistant staffer for the national monument. ``Well, it turned out when we had the value assessed, it was the opposite way.''

The land at Hood Bay is actually worth twice what the land in Eaglecrest is worth. But the Forest Service doesn't want to give up more than 170 acres near Eaglecrest, and the George family really doesn't need more than that.

Instead, the Forest Service is trying to find a way to pay the $80,000 to $100,000 difference. Forest Service officials have been talking to the Nature Conservancy, which is interested in buying some of the Hood Bay land and then letting the Forest Service pay for it slowly with land and water conservation funds.

The cash will also give George some money to start his family business.

``We haven't sat down and come up with any business plan, but the dream's still the same, the idea of building a lodge and a restaurant and some rentals,'' George said. ``and to present it as a wilderness setting, not a commercial Lake Tahoe type development.''

George is eager for the trade to be completed so his family will have somewhere to live and work in Juneau. The longer the trade takes, the more money family members pay out in rent in Juneau and lose in potential income, George said.

``My dad said that this land is for the benefit of his children and grandchildren and I'm just trying to do that,'' George said. ``This land exchange is part of that, trying to provide them a home and a long-term form of employment.''

A decision on the land trade could be made by this summer, Flynn said. Then it will have to be reviewed by the federal Bureau of Land Management and several other groups. At the earliest, a transfer of property could take place by the end of the year.

``There's quite a bunch of hoops that have to be jumped through,'' Flynn said.

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