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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Exchange about to end

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The Alaska delegation applauds the final stage of more than 20 years of efforts

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, welcomed the completion of approximately 45 miles of permanent access easements, marking the completion of a land exchange between the Alaska Mental Health Trust (AMHT) and the United States. Forest Service (USFS). This final step continues with more than twenty years of work, including significant leadership and support from the Alaska Congressional Delegation and the State of Alaska.

“While my 2017 legislation accelerated the land exchange of the Alaska Mental Health Trust, this has been a very long effort, which has required the cooperation of stakeholders, the state of Alaska. and the federal government alike. ” said Senator Murkowski. “After many years of work to complete this land exchange, this announcement is good news. It will provide wood for harvest in the southeast, protect local viewpoints and trails in our communities. and will increase revenue for mental health services across the state. next years “.

“Alaska’s lumber industry has been a constant target of successive Democratic administrations in Washington.” said Senator Sullivan. “These easements will provide vital access to the Mental Health Trust to make full use of the land exchanged under the Alaska Mental Health Land Exchange Act of 2017. Finally, this is good news for Alaska workers in the United States. Southeastern ones that depend on the wood economy, as well as for the vulnerable Alaskans across the state who use the critical services of the Alaska Mental Health Trust. , which works for the benefit of the Mental Health Trust, the Forest Service and, most importantly, Alaska. “

“This is a great day for Alaska! Our state is home to a wealthy lumber industry, which has historically provided the necessary income and economic opportunity in Southeast Alaska. Over the years, however, , onerous federal regulations have reduced the supply of available timber, lowering incomes and directly affecting the services on which Alaska residents depend, including access to mental health care. said Congressman Young. “In Congress, I have worked hard to ensure that the USFS does not harm the Alaska Mental Health Trust by closing harvestable wood. At the 115th Congress, I introduced a legislative correction that was enacted as part of the 2017 Consolidated Credit Package. I am proud of our “small but powerful” delegation for achieving this goal, and the completion of this land exchange is a cause for celebration, and I am grateful for the hard work of Senators Murkowski and Sullivan, countless leaders. It is my great hope that, through this new available space, the Alaska Mental Health Trust will be able to change course in declining income and provide essential services to the people. of Alaska who need them most. “

The easements exchanged today allow for mutual use for AMHT and USFS, while providing critical access to the Trust’s new lands and allowing continued public access to USFS lands. The Trust will use its land for the sale of timber, which provides revenue to the Trust to support its beneficiaries while providing a crucial supply for the rest of the Southeast Alaska timber industry. With the contracts already in place, the Trust expects approximately 201 million table feet (MMBF) to be collected from its newly acquired land.

Additional background: The land exchange process formally began in 2011. Murkowski was the author of the legislation providing for the exchange of land, which was enacted as law in the Consolidated Loans Act of 2017. The phase 1 of the land exchange, completed in February 2019, transferred approximately 2,400 hectares of national land. Forest land at Naukati on Prince of Wales Island in AMHT in exchange for 2,585 acres of AMHT land near Ketchikan. This phase protected the ancient vegetation forests, the visual covers and the trail lands near Ketchikan for the forests. Through timber sales on wood land acquired, the AMHT increases revenue for mental health services in the state.

The balance of the exchange, Phase 2, was partially completed in April 2020 with the relocation of an additional 1,530 acres of USFS land to the AMHT in Naukati and an additional 3,020 acres (K-4 Plot on the Island of Gravina) of AHMT land in the forest. Service near Ketchikan. The closure of Phase 2 took place in August 2021, marking the completion of the final area to be exchanged, with approximately 18,494 acres of national forest land being relocated to the AMHT and 17,980 acres of AMHT land being relocated. transmit to the Forest Service.

All land for exchange was selected collaboratively through the work of local stakeholders, the AMHT and the USFS.


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