WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today welcomed President Obama’s signing of the Salmon Lake Land Selection Resolution Act into law.
“The President’s signature was the final step needed to fulfill the promise of land made to the Bering Straits Native Corp. in the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act,” Murkowski said. “While I wish a resolution could have been reached sooner, I’m happy to say to the people of the Nome region that this deal has finally crossed the finish line.”
The newly signed law resolves a long-standing conflict over land selections on the Seward Peninsula, and reflects an agreement between the state of Alaska, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the Bering Straits Native Corp.
After gaining statehood in 1959, Alaska selected lands north of Nome around Salmon Lake, an important subsistence hunting and fishing area to the Inupiat Eskimos who have called the area home for thousands of years. When Congress passed ANCSA in 1971 to resolve aboriginal land claims, the newly created Bering Straits Native Corp. received rights to 145,728 acres of land but some of its selections around Salmon Lake overlapped with state claims.
The agreement approved by Congress Tuesday fulfills a critical component of Bering Straits’ land entitlement by conveying to it 1,009 acres in the Salmon Lake area, 6,132 acres at Windy Cove and 7,504 acres at Imuruk Basin.
Salmon Lake, located 40 miles northeast of Nome, is currently one of the westernmost sockeye salmon spawning lakes in North America, and is important to the culture, history and ongoing subsistence lifestyle of the Inupiat Eskimos who are the Bering Straits Native Corp.’s shareholders.
BLM retains ownership of a nine-acre campground at the outlet of Salmon Lake, which provides road access to public camping opportunities from the Nome-Teller Highway. The agreement also retains public access to BLM-managed lands in the Kigluaik Mountain Range.
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