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The Sealaska lands legislation would allow the regional Native corporation to complete land selections in Southeast authorized under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
The current bill, however, would authorize Sealaska to select lands outside the boundaries established by ANCSA – lands that are important to subsistence, commercial fishing, tourism and other interests besides timber harvest.
The proposed bill has been a major focus for Lisa Murkowski, who McAdams hopes to replace in the senate next year.
McAdams told Steve Heimel that he’s okay with some of the bill.
“I’m for a Southeast lands bill that is equitable to all users, including Natives. One of the things I talked about with Joe Miller at the Juneau Chamber was that there are some parts of the Sealaska lands bill that I absolutely support, one being taking Native lands and putting them back in Native hands as it relates to sacred sites. That’s about 2,000 acres in a 17-million acre forest. Those need to be repatriated back to Native People and I support that.”
The proposed Sealaska bill peels off a much larger portion of the Tongass for timber development – about 85,000 acres. McAdams still treads carefully when it comes to the more controversial aspects of the legislation.
“I think there’s room for timber in Southeast. Whether it be timber or minerals – or even oil – whenever we can add value to it and create jobs in Alaska. We need to be innovative about that. So, is there room for a timber economy in Southeast Alaska? Of course there is. I’m not a zero-cut guy, we just need to be responsible about it.”
McAdams has also received some harsh criticism recently for his failure to help broker a deal between the city of Sitka and the University of Dubuque that might have rescued Sheldon Jackson College.
An online article in the Alaska Dispatch on September 19 has unflattering remarks about McAdams from Dubuque president Jeffrey Bullock, as well as Sitka assemblyman Larry Crews. Crews told the Dispatch that McAdams was “really good at dancing around the answers” concerning Sheldon Jackson.
On Tuesday’s Talk of Alaska, host Steve Heimel asked McAdams if he “screwed up” Sheldon Jackson’s attempt at recovery.
“It just didn’t pencil out for the community. The City and Borough of Sitka is a $25-million operation. The word on the street is that there is upward of $50-million in deferred maintenance on that campus alone: asbestos abatement, structural integrity, roofs. They wanted us to try to find $5-million to match some sort of personnel investment on their side. I could not in good conscience put that kind of liability in the laps of Sitka tax payers for a handful of jobs.”
McAdams graduated from Sheldon Jackson in 2000. He told Heimel that “As much as I love that campus, a month or two a year of programming from Dubuque” wasn’t worth the investment by the city.
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