US Senate passes funding bill authorizing Kodiak land swap
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that includes a provision authorizing a land exchange in Alaska between the federal government and a private owner.
The Coast Guard funding bill, if signed into law, would allow the swap of the privately owned Ayakulik Island off southwest Kodiak Island for federally owned tideland in Womens Bay south of the city of Kodiak, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported .
The nearly 11-acre (4.4-hectare) island is a nesting place for red-faced cormorant, a bird native to the Aleutian Islands but observed infrequently on Kodiak. The island would be set aside for conservation under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ayakulik Island is partially owned by Jim Jansen, chairman of Lynden Inc., a shipping and logistics company. The swap would give the company complete ownership of a roughly 11-acre (4.4-hectare) stretch from Lash Dock to Shannon’s Point.
The land in Womens Bay is in an area of Coast Guard activity. The Coast Guard has final authority on development in the area and can place “operational restrictions on commercial activity,” the bill states.
Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan introduced the land swap provision in the bill.
“The land transaction could occur without congressional involvement, were it not for the need to provide the U.S. Coast Guard with the tools necessary to protect operations,” the senator’s office said in a statement.
In a letter earlier this year, Sullivan said the land exchange would lead to economic benefits for the bay while assisting in the protection of seabirds and marine mammals on the island.
The swap has concerned some Kodiak residents over the development of a dock in Womens Bay.
Kodiak council member Charlie Davidson raised the issue last month at a council meeting, saying a dock in the bay could economically harm the city. The city rebuilt a pier a few years ago, partially funding the $35 million construction using at least $15 million in Alaska bond financing.
“If that land is developed into a dock . and we lose the wages and the tariffs that generally come over our dock, you can be sure that we’ll have difficulty paying for our new dock,” Davidson said. “I hope it doesn’t happen like that, because it is going to definitely hinder us to pay our bill in a timely matter.”
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com