House Passes Legislation to Save Alaska Native Veteran’s Allotment and Cabin, Sends Bill to President
Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed S. 404, the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act, which contains an Alaska specific land provision to remedy an issue affecting an Alaska Native Veteran’s land allotment and cabin facing destruction by the Fish and Wildlife Service following a surveying mistake. The provision, originally introduced by Congressman Young in the House on February 6, 2014 and subsequently approved, was included within S. 404 by Senator Lisa Murkowski. The bill passed by voice vote today and will be sent to the President for his signature.
Congressman Young speaking on the House floor before passage of S. 404, the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act (click above to watch).
Congressman Young spoke on the House floor today to defend the provision he offered as an amendment to the Public Access and Lands Improvement Act in February, which would approve Mr. Alstrom’s application for a second parcel of land and subsequently save his cabin and fish camp from demolition.
“I’m pleased it has come before the House, once again, as part of this Senate passed legislation,” said Congressman Young. “During debate on that measure, I told the story that led to this provision and how the federal government failed one of my constituents, Mr. William Alstrom; endangering his Alaska Native Veterans Allotment and the cabin he and his family built on the land the federal government conveyed to him and then took back due to bureaucratic errors."
“Today, after this House sends S. 404 to the President, I am pleased that William and his family can put this headache behind them and William can put his time to better use by continuing to serve St. Mary’s Alaska as Mayor and president of his village corporation…,” Congressman Young said. “I hope we all recognize that the federal government is not a good manager of land, there are too many times logic does not prevail…”.
Following a 2009 application process, the BLM granted Mr. William Alstrom two-80 acre parcels of land located in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. In 2011, the federal government took back the deed of the land after realizing the Fish and Wildlife Service mistakenly released two parcels located within a wilderness area where conveyances are prohibited by law. Following the cancellation of deed, the BLM offered Mr. Alstrom two new parcels in the region. Mr. Alstrom accepted one replacement parcel, but a second parcel excluded a cabin he had spent countless dollars and time building with his family.
“With deed in hand, Mr. Alstrom transported lumber and other supplies to one of his parcels by skiff, spent countless hours clearing trees and brush, and finally built a small cabin and fish camp for him and his family to enjoy,” Congressman Young said on the House floor when introducing his amendment in February. “As a result of mistakes made at no fault of his own, the BLM canceled the deed to these two parcels, plunging this Alaska Native veteran and the status of his allotment and cabin into a state of limbo.”
Click here to view the entire statement.
The Alaska Native Allotment Act allowed Alaska Natives to acquire up to 160 acres of federal land. Approximately 2,800 Alaska Natives served in the military during the Vietnam War and, because of their absence, they did not have an opportunity to apply for their Native allotment. In 1998, Congress passed a law that provided certain Alaska Native Vietnam veterans, including William Alstrom, an opportunity to obtain an allotment.