After 15 years of planning, the State’s land exchange between the federal government and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority was signed on Thursday by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. The land exchange will directly benefit the state’s economy and it will secure employment while supporting Alaska’s mental health treatment programs, the governor said, especially for Southeast timber mills.
Also, “Alaskans who are beneficiaries of AMHTA services and programs will be further served thanks to the enhanced revenues the trust will earn. This is a victory for so many Alaskans and I want to thank everyone who worked to make this happen,” he said.
The land exchange process began in 2011 which was conducted in two phases. The first phase was completed in 2019, which protects old-growth stands, viewshed and trail lands near Ketchikan for timberlands. Federal legislation authorized the land exchange, which was enacted into law in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017. The second and final phase was completed through the Dunleavy Administration in conjunction with the congressional delegation and the Trust Land Office.
The easements allow mutual use to the AMHTA and U.S. Forest Service and therefore provide critical access to the new Trust lands while allowing continued access to the USFS lands by the public. The easements will continue to provide access for the Trust to conduct activities that will provide revenue and provide local economic development. With the contracts that are in place, the Trust expects to harvest a total of approximately 201 million board feet of timber from the newly acquired Trust lands.