Stevens facilitates land deal

Appraisals range from $604 to $11,875 an acre for North Slope property

Posted: Tuesday, August 03, 2004

ANCHORAGE - Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has ordered the Air Force to buy 160 acres from Jake Adams, president of the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and his two siblings.

Stevens inserted language into a Defense spending bill that directs the government to pay $2.5 million to the prominent North Slope family. The bill was later changed to say the government would pay "up to" $2.5 million, depending on the value set by an appraiser.

Two appraisers have evaluated the Oliktok Point land, with wide differences in their per-acre conclusions.

An appraiser hired by the family determined the land to be worth $1.9 million, $11,875 an acre, according to Stevens' staff.

A government-hired appraiser, Thomas Dunagan of Anchorage, determined that the land was worth $604 an acre, nearly 20 times less than the per-acre value the family's appraiser arrived at.

The Adams siblings inherited the land from their father, who claimed it in 1971 under a 1906 law that granted individual Alaska Natives title to land they lived on or used. The land, as it was conveyed to their father, was in two adjoining lots, both fronting the Beaufort Sea.

The eastern lot was once part of the neighboring Air Force radar station, and it contains an Air Force dumpsite. The allotment also includes the graves of several Adams relatives.

Bill Mundy, the family's appraiser, said the land could be of great use to the oil industry because it is at the end of a road and near an active field.

"The Adams family property is in a very unique location," he said. "It could be an important staging area for oil development there in the Kuparuk field."

An oil field services company expressed interest in buying or leasing the land a couple of years ago, he said.

The government's appraiser drew his values by comparing the Adams land with other Native allotments that were sold in the Kuparuk area, Mundy said, but those lots weren't situated as well as the Adams family land.

Mundy said his appraisal was based on the value of other industrial staging areas, some on the North Slope and others "far afield."

Landowner Marie Carroll said she and her brothers decided to sell the land once they learned of the dump, but couldn't come to an agreement with the Air Force over how much the land was worth.

The family is seeking an additional $600,000 in damages.

The provision Stevens authored said the family and the Air Force would jointly pick an appraiser and the Air Force would pay the fee.

The appraisal is to be done within six months of the bill's enactment and the purchase must be completed by October 2005, the bill says, unless the family rejects the deal.

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