A long-awaited land selection agreement for Sealaska Corp. is among a package of public land bills that are now slated to move quickly through Congress. A deal to attach the package to the must-pass defense bill was announced early Wednesday morning.
The bill would turn about 70,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest over to Sealaska for logging and development. Sealaska is the regional Native corporation for Southeast Alaska.
Nationally, the bill moves 110,000 acres out of national control, enables a controversial copper mine in Arizona and expands a Bureau of Land Management program to streamline drilling permits. It also establishes more than 200,000 acres of wilderness and designates new national parks in the Lower 48.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski called it a balanced package that will increase economic opportunities in Western states.