Two Democratic and Republican senators from Alaska Forest Policy Research have announced they will reintroduce the same old bill giving away 80000 acres of public land. The legislation would create a private corporation to develop the land. The legislation would create a new company called Sealaska Native Corp., which would be given ownership of the remaining 80 thousand acres. Both Murkowski and Begich have opposed the proposal and have expressed their displeasure over it.
The proposal has been criticized as an attempt to privatize an area that is nearly closed to any economy. The federal government has virtually closed off Southeast Alaska, and local communities are becoming frustrated with the process. The proposal is largely unbalanced on the environmental and societal sides. The long-shot legislation will give a new name to a rotten plan that has enraged local citizens and business owners.
The U.S. Forest Service has drafted a map that shows which parcels of land are available for development. It is clear that the bill does not address the issues of public access and land use. However, the Alaska senators’ legislation also makes a number of other important considerations, such as climate change, that should be part of the conversation. And because the legislation was originally introduced over 20 years ago, it is unlikely that Democrats will endorse the bill.
In addition to blocking the bill, the senators’ legislation is likely to exacerbate the already troubled state of the state. This year alone, there were over 100 million comments against the bill, resulting in nearly 200 million comments on the proposal. But in spite of these concerns, the majority of people are opposed to the legislation. Even if the state’s legislators support the legislation, many residents will continue to oppose it.
The bill was introduced to give away land in the Tongass National Forest by Republican Senators from Alaska. The legislation is similar to legislation that has been proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years. The change in the bill’s language has been a direct response to public concerns. It is important to remember that the changes in the law reflect the feedback of the public.
As an environmental advocate, I am very concerned about the process. I am glad that the Alaskan Senate has been able to keep this legislation in place. But why is this legislation being debated? Why is the Alaska Senate focusing on this proposal at this time? Why is it so important for the environment? Those who support the bill should understand that they are making a decision to preserve the environment.