Herbert River land grant approved by the state Senate

Funding originally removed by Sen. Robin Taylor

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2003

Federal funding intended to help the city of Juneau purchase woods and wetlands near the Herbert River was added back into a supplemental spending bill Wednesday in the state Senate. The bill passed today.

The U.S. Department of Interior Coastal Wetlands Grant totals $553,000 and was obtained by the Southeast Alaska Land Trust and other local conservation groups to help turn the 148 acres near the Herbert River into public land.

The Herbert River land parcel is between Amalga State Park and Eagle River State Park near the Boy Scout Camp.

The Juneau Assembly on Monday voted to add $254,000 to complete the land purchase from William "Shorty" Tonsgard.

But Wrangell Republican Sen. Robin Taylor stripped the federal match from a supplemental spending bill in a Tuesday Senate Finance Committee hearing, saying he wanted to review the item in the state capital budget. Taylor added the funding on the Senate floor on Wednesday through an amendment.

Taylor said the Tonsgards bought the land with the intention of building a home and mining gravel from the property but have been denied the necessary permits for several years.

"I have nothing against parks, I just think we have lots of them and that we need more jobs than we need more parks," Taylor said. "All I would be doing by withdrawing those funds is further hurting the Tonsgards who have now waited several years to get on with their lives."

Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.

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