Board of Directors Explore Land Leasing Possibility for Chickaloon Coal

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The Alaska Mental Health Lands Trust’s board of directors heard from the public Tuesday on whether or not to lease 18 square miles of property near Chickaloon to coal mining interests.

The Trust’s board already voted to lease the land several years ago, but opposition from Chickaloon residents stopped the plan in 2007.

Mike Franger, senior resource manager for the Trust, says the Trust’s board of directors met this morning in Anchorage, and the coal lease question is only one item on the agenda.

But Chickaloon residents are concerned about the Trust’s move. Kirby Spangler heads the Castle Mountain Coalition, which spearheaded the fight against the Trust’s coal lease sale plan four years ago.

Spangler says the Coalition wants to preserve the ecological integrity of the Matanuska River watershed.

The Trust’s Franger says the board is looking at the potential for leasing the land for coal exploration, but there is no lease sale scheduled yet.

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