The Salmon Lake Land Selection Resolution Act was reintroduced today by Alaska's U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich. The bill ratifies a settlement between the state of Alaska, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the Bering Straits Native Corp., completing land conveyances promised in the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).
"The shareholders of the Bering Straits region have waited 40 years to finally receive the land and economic benefits promised to them when they relinquished their aboriginal land claims," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. "All sides have come to agreement with this compromise, so it's only just that they not have to wait any longer to enjoy the full benefits of their land."
"This bill is a good compromise with widespread support from Alaskans and the federal agencies," said Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. "Let's pass this legislation and then get to work on the backlog of land owed to the state of Alaska and Alaska Native corporations."
Salmon Lake, located 40 miles northeast of Nome, is one of the largest bodies of freshwater on the Seward Peninsula and has been an important source of food and resources for Alaska Natives since ancient times. The lake continues to be a popular recreation destination with campgrounds and other lands managed by the BLM.
Under the Alaska Statehood Act, the state selected lands around Salmon Lake that had also been selected by Bering Straits Native Corp. under ANCSA. The Murkowski-Begich legislation resolves the conflicting claims, while providing for continued public ownership, management and use of certain lands in the Salmon Lake area.
Both the state and Native corporation relinquished some claims to settle the dispute. The agreement conveys 3,084 acres of land around the lake to the state, and 14,645 acres to the corporation, while maintaining BLM ownership of a nine acre campground with access to other important federal lands nearby.
The legislation was previous introduced in 2009 but never received a full Senate vote during the 111th Congress. An identical measure unanimously passed the House last Congress.
The full bill is attached.