Senate panel approves land grant to Craig
WASHINGTON - A U.S. Senate committee has approved a bill to grant 4,500 acres of land to the village of Craig, on Prince of Wales Island, but only if Congress is willing to buy land of equal value elsewhere in the Tongass National Forest.
The bill's sponsor, Alaska Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski, wants to give the land to Craig so it has a tax base. Craig is Alaska's fastest growing first-class city, according to Murkowski, and demand for municipal services grows yearly.
But all but 7 percent of the land inside city limits is owned by two Native village corporations, and they are exempt from local taxation, the senator said.
The land to be conveyed is in the Control Lake area, roughly 20 miles from Craig and about halfway between Klawock and Thorne Bay.
The bill approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday would convey the land only if Congress appropriates money to buy lands of equal value elsewhere in the Tongass National Forest from willing sellers.