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Congressman Young Introduces Legislation to Streamline Development on Point Spencer, Transfer Lands to State and Local Interests

Washington, D.C.Alaskan Congressman Don Young this week introduced legislation to facilitate infrastructure development and potential uses of Point Spencer, Alaska by establishing a public and private partnership among the federal government, the United States Coast Guard, the State of Alaska, the Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) and private industry. The bill would assist in the timely development of the region by calling for the conveyance of more than 2,500 acres of existing federal land to interested stakeholders.

“I am proud to be joined by my friend Congressman Duncan Hunter, the Chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, in introducing legislation to provide the means necessary for future use and development of Point Spencer by federal, state, and private sector stakeholders,” said Congressman Don Young. “We are desperately in need of development in the region, particularly as activity in the Arctic continues to increase, and this bill establishes a path forward for a variety of necessary tasks and missions, including search and rescue operations, shipping safety, economic development, oil spill prevention and response, port development and refuge, arctic research, and maritime law enforcement.”

Under Congressman Young’s bill, H.R. 4668, the Coast Guard would retain its footprint at Point Spencer, approximately 140 acres, in order to support possible future uses of the strategic location. That area includes a major footprint on the water, in addition to land on which the Coast Guard boarded up operations in 2010. The bill also provides the Coast Guard with the rights to use the current and any future airstrips for federal purposes at no cost, and permits the leasing of additional lands from the BSNC should the Coast Guard need them.

The State of Alaska would receive approximately 180 acres of federal lands, including the existing airstrip, a shoreline footprint on the water, and a right-of-way for future development of a road from the airstrip to the mainland across Coast Guard and/or BSNC land. Additionally, the tidelands and submerged lands around Point Spencer would be recognized as having continued ownership by the State of Alaska.

Lastly, the bill provides BSNC with the remainder of lands, approximately 2,381 acres, satisfying a portion of BSNC’s land entitlement under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), and thereby allowing for future uses of Point Spencer. The bill also provides language to help ensure protections for archaeological and ancestral items of antiquity through the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

“I believe this legislation is the best path forward to ensure the interests of all stakeholders are fully met when productively developing Point Spencer for uses in the Arctic,” said Congressman Don Young. “Not only is this approach equitable, it sensibly addresses public and private sectors interests for the betterment of our nation, the state of Alaska, the indigenous people of the Bering Strait region, as well as the private sector. The federal government has failed to optimize this critically important piece of land for far too long, and I believe the plan we have set in place works to achieve that goal.”

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