Several hundred people attend land swap discussion

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2008

FAIRBANKS - Several hundred people attended a discussion on a proposed land swap between Alaska's largest private landowner and the federal government, with most opposing the swap.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering trading several thousands acres of land in the Yukon Flats with Doyon Ltd. Under the proposed swap, the Native corporation would exchange lands important to wildlife habitat for lands thought to be rich in oil and gas.

Doyon executives believe drilling in the area could jump-start the economy in the Yukon Flats, where unemployment is more than 80 percent in some areas.

Former Doyon President Orie Williams and the late Rev. David Salmon, first traditional chief of the Tanana Chiefs Conference, are among some of the leaders to have publicly supported the plan.

Critics said the money wasn't worth losing land which many people still rely upon.

The meeting Thursday at Noel Wien Library was one of 11 similar meetings being held during a two-week period around the state to get input on the proposal. Fish and Wildlife officials said they received a similar reception at previous meetings in Fort Yukon and Stevens Village.

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