Author: Bert Stedman
Today, I applaud my Senate colleagues for supporting a priority bill, Senate Bill (SB) 88, the Alaska Mental Health Land Exchange. This bill allows a land exchange between the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Alaska Mental Health Trust (AMHT).
The land exchange would benefit local communities such as Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Wrangell by replacing trust lands directly adjacent to these communities containing sensitive viewshed areas and other areas with USFS timber lands. Increased opportunity for timber supply will benefit our timber industry while providing good paying jobs. The exchange would also generate revenue to AMHT to support Alaskans in need of mental health services.
My staff and I have coordinated with our Alaska Congressional delegation, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young. They have introduced companion legislation at the federal level directing the USFS to complete the exchange.