Alaska Gov. Bill Walker was joined in Ketchikan on Thursday by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, state Sen. Bert Stedman and state Rep. Dan Ortiz to sign a bill accepting a land trade between the U.S. Forest Service and Alaska Mental Health Trust.
Gov. Bill Walker came to Alaska’s First City on Saturday to experience this year’s sun-filled Blueberry Arts Festival. He is attending fairs and festivals around Alaska in place of scheduling the governor’s picnics that have been traditional for the past few years.
Senate Bill 88, sponsored by Sitka Republican Sen. Bert Stedman, allows a land trade between Alaska Mental Health Trust and the U.S. Forest Service, in which the trust would receive nearly 20,000 acres for timber harvest in exchange for approximately 18,000 acres near several Southeast communities.
While much of the recent focus has been on the opioid crisis, a report found that alcohol use causes more economic damage.
The Mental Health Trust Authority owns lands in Petersburg it wants to swap for Tongass National Forest acreage elsewhere in the region. Resulting timber sales would raise money for the Trust.
While waiting for federal legislation to expedite a land exchange between the U.S. Forest Service and Alaska Mental Health Trust, state officials are working on a companion bill in the Alaska Legislature.
The Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office will not pursue timber sales at controversial sites in Petersburg and Ketchikan – at least for now.
With a federal land swap in the works, the Alaska Mental Health Trust says they’ll pass on the controversial timber sale.
Alaska’s Congressional Delegation has reintroduced a bill that would trade federal land for land owned by Alaska Mental Health Trust – including Ketchikan’s Deer Mountain.
Lawmakers want to know if the trust’s board and employees are following the state laws regarding how investments are handled, transparency and conflict of interest.