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There's been lots of talk lately about Senator Murkowski's bill #1354, commonly called the Cape Fox/Berners Bay land trade (or to be more accurate I would say land giveaway).
Those who support it say it redresses wrong done to Native corporations under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). So exactly what went wrong? Cape Fox and Sealaska corporations, the two main beneficiaries of the trade, received sizeable portions of land under ANCSA. No wrong there.
What did go wrong was the subsequent unsustainable logging of the land. About 3,000 acres of this heavily logged "waste" land would be traded for approximately 12,000 acres of Berners Bay prime wilderness containing old growth forest with rich, diverse ecosystems. Does this seem like a fair trade? Do we want to keep giving away the very thing that defines Alaska - natural, phenomenal beauty and wilderness?
Hundreds of Alaskans have spoke out against the trade either by writing letters or by speaking at the town meeting I attended in Juneau several weeks ago.
This bill is bad news for Berners Bay and Alaskans who value fishing, hiking, kayaking, or just being in the wilderness close to home. I hope those who haven't yet spoken out will do so and that Senator Murkowski will listen.