WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pribilof Islands have moved a step closer to taking over property on the islands long controlled by the federal government.
The U.S. House last night overwhelmingly approved the measure sponsored by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, that would speed up the transfer of land on the islands of St. Paul and St. George. The land is currently controlled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Native groups have been trying to gain control of the property since the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971. Under the bill NOAA would continue to manage fur seal populations on the islands.
The measure would transfer control of the land to local governments, tribal councils and Native corporations. The bill would also require NOAA to clean up the property. The measure is expected to cost the federal government $67 million over five years.
''This bill makes good on our promises to a group of Native Americans,'' said Republican Rep. Don Sherwood of Pennsylvania.
The measure still must be approved by the Senate.
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