H.R. 230 – Sale Act - also known as the “Shee Atika Land Entitlement Act” - permits Shee Atika Corporation to receive payment in cash or bid credits for acquiring federal surplus property from federal agencies, in exchange for the roughly 23,000 acres of land it clearcut on Admiralty Island.
Twenty-five years ago, Congress encouraged the Forest Service to engage in negotiations aimed at the completion of a voluntary exchange agreement between Shee Atika, Inc. and Sealaska Corporation for lands in the Lake Florence, Lake Kathleen, and Wards Creek drainages of Admiralty Island National Monument (the so-called “Cube Cove” lands). Those efforts proved unsuccessful and these spectacular lands were clearcut. There are unquestionable benefits from returning these lands to Admiralty Island National Monument and letting this devastation heal. We hope that Congress recognizes the substantial cultural loss that resulted from the unsustainable wreckage of productive fish and wildlife habitat at Cube Cove and does not repeat the mistake by mandating for-profit development by corporations of lands historically, culturally, and traditionally important to the five communities identified by Congressman Young in H.R. 229.
We saw similar legislation introduced last July by Alaska Senators Murkowski and Sullivan in section 5 of S. 3273. To date, neither Alaska Senator has reintroduced companion legislation in the Senate.
Unlike last year’s version, H.R. 230 does not authorize the USFS to obtain Sealaska's subsurface estate at Cube Cove as well, in exchange for the surface and subsurface lands on nearly 8,900-acres and the surface estate of 5,145 more acres of Tongass lands on Prince of Wales Island. Last year, we opposed this exchange because it was of unequal value. Typically, the rule of thumb for the exchange of subsurface property, without other evidence, is 10% of the value of the surface estate. In this case, the surface estate at Cube Cove should result in Alaska getting less than 500 acres of old-growth forest in exchange for its 23,000 acres of subsurface estate at Cube Cove.