The federal government is finalizing the buyback of heavily logged forest lands on Admiralty Island from Shee Atiká, Sitka’s urban Native corporation.
U.S. Forest Service Alaska Region’s Deputy Director for Recreation, Land & Minerals Dawn Collinsworth says the deal was completed over four years.
“They were lands that had been conveyed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to the Shee Atiká Corporation,” she said. “And they were logged at one time but they are returning to a more natural character and will be allowed to do so.”
The corporation will receive $18,312,200 — slightly less than $800 an acre.
The nearly 23,000 acres around Cube Cove were intensively logged from the 1980s up until the early 2000s. They’ll be added to Kootznoowoo Wilderness, a protected part of the Tongass National Forest about 30 miles south of Juneau. It will be off-limits to future logging.
The land deal involves the lion’s share of Shee Atiká’s real estate holdings.
“The completion of the Cube Cove land transfer was truly a monumental team effort,” Shee Atiká Board Chairwoman Pamela Steffes said in a statement.
In 2016, Shee Atiká sold the first 4,500 acres near Cube Cove to the U.S. Forest Service for nearly $4 million. The announcement of the deal was unpopular among some shareholders, who called for then-CEO Ken Cameron to step down.
Congress has appropriated funds annually over the past four years to complete the transfer.
This story has been updated.