Once President Barack Obama signs the national defense authorization act into law, the City of Galena will acquire a hefty plot of public land. 1,290 acres of land where the Campion Air Force Radar Station used to be located will be conveyed to Galena for the purpose of preventing future flood damage to the City.
Congressman Don Young added the provision for the Galena land transfer to this year’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which has already passed through the House and the Senate. Matt Shuckerow, the Congressman’s communications director, said Congressman Young has put in years of work to achieve this goal.
“In the previous NDAA, he was able to secure this amendment in the House version, but unfortunately through final negotiations, a number of land transfer provisions were ultimately excluded, so that’s the challenge we faced last year,” Shuckerow said. “He came back to the table with it again this year, and we were able to secure that, so we are very proud of that.”
Shuckerow said the City of Galena could use this land for further protection from natural disasters, such as flooding.
“In 2013, there was massive flooding from the Yukon River, and they have had threats in the past and will continue to have them in the future, and that’s in part because of the low level land in which the City is built,” Shuckerow said. “By securing the transfer, this gives Galena the option to potentially move that town, to ensure their safety from future floods.”
It is unclear what the City of Galena will do with this land, but Shuckerow claimed the land is no longer in use and the community requested the transfer happen. Ultimately, the Secretary of the Interior will have to convey this land, and that could fall to Ryan Zinke, President-elect Donald Trump’s appointee for the position.
Shuckerow said, regardless of who is Secretary of the Interior, this bill will be enacted.
“The Congressman spoke extensively with the incoming nominee, Representative Ryan Zinke,” Shuckerow said. “They had a great conversation and talked about some of their different issues that we face, and while they may have some differences on some issues, the Congressman ultimately felt positive about their conversation in terms of management and the understanding that we need to break down some of the needless bureaucracy, and we need to make sure that we can streamline development.”
The NDAA can become law if President Obama puts his signature on it, or if he takes no action on it within a certain amount of time. Shuckerow expects the bill will be passed before Obama’s term ends.