The university lands bill is moving through the Legislature and it could pass this session. This bill known as SB 96 or House Bill 130 gives lands in Southeast Alaska to the university to sell for profit. Even though there has been extensive testimony against these bills, the Legislature is pushing them through, ignoring the overwhelming opposition of their constituents. Some of the lands up for grabs are in Beecher's Pass, Mitkof Island, Farragut Bay and Cape Fanshaw as well as Mite Cove, Idaho Inlet, Pelican and Sumdum in Endicott Arm.
The Department of Natural Resources spent lots of money and years of research to come up with the Southeast Area Management Plan, which designates land use for all the parcels of state land. These designations would be thrown out if the land were given to the university. Some of these lands have been used for hunting, subsistence and recreation for generations. DNR'S Plan recognized the importance of these lands to Southeast residents and designated them for undeveloped recreation. Once the land is sold into private hands, the public can be shut off from using them. Can you imagine a cruise ship destination out at Sumdum or in Farragut Bay? That is not the best use of our public lands. It is irresponsible to throw out the land use designations just to make a quick buck. There are better ways to fund the university.
Contact the legislature and let them know that you want to see them take the Southeast Alaska parcels out of consideration in the university lands bill. The profit to the university will be insignificant, only 1 percent of the annual budget if these lands sell. The public will be shut out from using these lands and that is too high a price to pay. Sen. Stedman has said he supports the bill despite the fact that the cities of Petersburg and Sitka and Pelican as well as other towns around the state are on record opposing it. He seems to be listening to the governor more than his constituents. Give him a call and remind him who he works for. Go on down to the Legislative Information Office and send a POM to your legislators. It is free and effective. We need to act fast.