Ketchikan’s Deer Mountain on a clear winter day. (KRBD photo by Leila Kheiry)

Sen. Bert Stedman of Sitka introduced a bill Friday in the Alaska Senate to approve a land exchange between Alaska Mental Health Trust and the U.S. Forest Service.

The bill is similar to a House bill introduced earlier this week by Ketchikan Rep. Dan Ortiz.

As in the House version, Stedman’s bill calls for the state agency to receive nearly 20,000 acres of Forest Service land for timber harvest in exchange for approximately 18,000 acres of Trust land near several Southeast communities. That Trust land includes parts of Deer Mountain. 

Stedman’s SB 88 was referred to the Senate Resources and Finance committees. 

Completing the transfer requires legislation from both the state and the U.S. Congress. Alaska’s Congressional Delegation has sponsored federal legislation to expedite the exchange.

We have a report from earlier this week on the exchange process.