Young’s Sealaska Bill Goes to Natural Resources Committee Wednesday

Sealaska land-selection legislation will be before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday. The panel is the bill’s final stop before heading to the House floor.

The measure, authored by Alaska Congressman Don Young, is scheduled for mark-up.

Young’s office says it’s expected to pass out of the committee with bipartisan support. The bill was introduced in April, and had a hearing in May before the Indian Affairs Subcommittee. The office says only minor changes have been made since that hearing.

Young’s measure would designate Tongass National Forest timberlands that Sealaska could select and harvest. Most are on Prince of Wales Island. It also proposes economic development zones.

The lands are outside boundaries set by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which created Native corporations.

Sealaska says making addition selections within current boundaries and logging them could damage habitat and watersheds. Critics, including environmental groups, say the new selection areas include key habitat for fish and wildlife and should be protected.

Senator Lisa Murkowski has her own version of the bill. It has significant differences, including some of the timberland locations. It also had a hearing in April. Her office says it hopes for a markup this summer.

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