Sen. Murkowski's recent interview on KRBD discussing Sealaska's current lands bill was both encouraging and disheartening at the same time. While it is encouraging to hear her talk about holding a field hearing on Prince of Wales to discuss concerns over impacts from S881 - Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization act. It's disheartening to hear her only reference the City of Craig.
The residents of Edna Bay, on the southeast end of Kosciusko Island, have been relentlessly trying to get her attention for almost seven years. More than 1,200 letters have been sent to our representatives letting them know why we objected to this bill and what these public lands meant to us. To this date there has been no direct response to our concerns from Sen. Murkowski or Sealaska.
Sealaska's selection on Kosciusko is the largest of their proposed economic development lands, almost 32,000 acres. It encompasses over three fourths of the drivable road system and accessible areas of our isolated, remote island. These are the same public lands the community of Edna Bay has depended for it's life support for almost 30 years. If they are transferred into private ownership it will collapse our local economy.
Sealaska deserves to have their entitlement completed. While they may have what many believe are justifiable reasons for selecting outside the boundaries set by Congress during the establishment of ANCSA, nothing justifies allowing them to choose in areas that cause catastrophic resource conflicts.
If Murkowski is hoping to find an equitable solution to settling Sealaska's Land Entitlement, she needs to help Sealaska select their economic development lands in areas away from remote, isolated resource-dependent communities.
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