S. 292: Salmon Lake Land Selection Resolution Act

S. 292

Salmon Lake Land Selection Resolution Act

Sponsor
Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Date
June 5, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider S. 292, the Salmon Lake Land Selection Resolution Act, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. The bill was introduced on February 4, 2011, by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and approved in the Senate on October 19, 2011, by unanimous consent. On October 21, 2011, the bill was sent to the House and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a markup and reported the bill by voice vote on February 29, 2012.

Bill Summary

S. 292 would ratify the Salmon Lake Area Land Ownership Consolidation Agreement that was signed by the federal government, the state of Alaska and the Bering Straits Native Corporation (a native-owned regional corporation established to administer land given to Alaska Natives under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act) in 2007. Under the legislation, the federal government would convey about 18,000 acres of land located in western Alaska to the Bering Straits Native Corporation and the state of Alaska to satisfy claims made by those parties under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the Alaska Statehood Act, respectively. The federal government currently collects about $1,500 per year from a lease on the affected land.  The bill would provide the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with access rights and easements in order to maintain access to the campground managed by the bureau and other federal lands located within corporation lands.

Background

According to House Report 112-428, under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA), all aboriginal claims to land and waters in Alaska were extinguished in exchange for the transfer of 44 million acres of public lands in the state to Alaska Natives, divided among 12 Regional Corporations and more than 200 Village Corporations. The Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC), organized by Natives in the Nome area, received an entitlement to 145,728 acres of land. In partial satisfaction of this entitlement, BSNC selected federal lands adjacent to Salmon Lake, a large lake 38 miles north of Nome, Alaska. Some of these selections overlap a selection made by the State pursuant to its own land entitlement under the Alaska Statehood Act of 1958.  To resolve the conflicting land selections, BSNC, the State, and the United States negotiated the “Salmon Lake Area Land Ownership Consolidation Agreement” (Agreement), effective as of July 18, 2007. An Act of Congress is necessary to ratify the Agreement before it takes full effect.

The Agreement provides for certain land conveyances and relinquishments among the parties. BSNC acquires 1,009 acres in the Salmon Lake area, 6,132 acres of land at Windy Cove, and 7,504 acres of land at Imuruk Basin. The State acquires 3,084 acres in the Salmon Lake area, while BSNC relinquishes 3,084 acres of land from its original Salmon Lake selection. The Agreement had originally been set to expire on January 1, 2009, but the three parties to it have extended the deadline for Congressional ratification until January 1, 2013.

Cost

According to CBO, “The federal government currently collects about $1,500 per year from a lease on the affected land. Those amounts are deposited in an escrow account pending ratification of the agreement. Upon enactment of the legislation, BLM would transfer 90 percent of all receipts collected over the life of the lease (about $20,000 to date) to the state of Alaska and would deposit the remaining 10 percent of those funds in the U.S. Treasury. Thus, CBO estimates that enacting the legislation would increase offsetting receipts to the Treasury (a credit against direct spending) by about $2,000 in 2013.”