Washington, D.C. – Alaskan Congressman Don Young and Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced bicameral legislation yesterday to streamline future infrastructure development and potential uses of Point Spencer, Alaska by calling for the conveyance of approximately 2,500 acres of federal lands to local, state and federal stakeholders.
The bill, the Point Spencer Land Conveyance Act, would establish a public-private partnership in an effort to bring timely development to Alaska’s Seward Peninsula. Among stakeholders, the U.S. Coast Guard would retain its footprint in the region to support their statutory mission and duties, while the Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) and the State of Alaska would be conveyed certain federal lands.
“I am once again proud to introduce legislation to provide for the future development and use of Point Spencer by federal, state, and private stakeholders,” said Congressman Don Young. “There’s no question that this region is in desperate need of development of multiple port facilities, particularly as activity in the region increases and ship traffic through the Bering Strait has nearly doubled in recent years. I believe this legislation is the best path forward to ensure the interests of all stakeholders are fully met when developing Point Spencer. Unfortunately, under the current fiscal constraints of the federal government, there is no clear path to development without public and private participation. My hope is that this equitable and sensible approach will help us achieve our goal of optimizing the use of this critically important piece of land.”
The question is not if, but when, America and Alaska are going to better leverage our status as an Arctic nation; the infrastructure projects that this bill would enable could speed up the timetable to more economic investment and development, allowing us to not fall any further behind other nations,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “As the nation and our state rethinks its spending, it’s important to think outside the box with private-public partnerships that this important bill would facilitate. It’s the responsible and rational path forward to spur growth in the short-term and empower our state to be a more active participant in the region.”
(Map of the land conveyed through the legislation.)
In addition to establishing the Port Coordination Advisory Council for the Port of Point Spencer, to ensure coordination of operations, infrastructure development and public interest, the legislation calls for the following:
- United States Coast Guard: The USCG would retain approximately 161 acres at Point Spencer to support future possible uses of the strategic location, including a major footprint on the waterfront and lands previously boarded up by the USCG in 2010. The bill would also provide the USCG with the rights to use the current and any future airstrips for federal purposes at no cost.
- State of Alaska: The State of Alaska would receive approximately 110 acres of federal lands, including a shoreline footprint on the water and a right-of-way for future development of a road from the airstrip to the mainland across BSNC land. Additionally, the tidelands and submerged lands around Point Spencer would be recognized as having continued ownership by the State of Alaska.
- Bering Straits Native Corporations: The BSNC would receive approximately 2,209 acres, satisfying a portion of their land entitlement under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). The bill includes language to ensure the protection of archaeological and ancestral items of antiquity.
A previous version of this legislation received support from the Alaska Federation of Natives, Kawerak, Inc. (the nonprofit arm of the BSNC), and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.
This is the second iteration of the Point Spencer Land Conveyance Act, which was introduced by Congressman Young and unanimously passed through the House Natural Resources Committee in the 113th Congress.