National heritage moniker sought

Bill recognizes cultural values of peninsula

Posted: Friday, July 18, 2003

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has introduced a bill that would create a national heritage area in a region of the northern Kenai Peninsula that includes historic trails leading from tidewater in Prince William Sound north to Turnagain Arm.

U.S. Senate Bill 1330 would establish the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area, making the region eligible for federal assistance to "recognize, preserve and interpret" historic and modern development and culture in a transportation corridor first used by indigenous Alaskans and later by non-Native pioneers and settlers.

"By a national heritage designation, the traditions and cultural values of this part of the Kenai Peninsula will be portrayed and interpreted as part of human history in Alaska, including the early Native trade routes, connections by waterway and the railroad's coming," Murkowski said in introducing the measure in late June.

She said it would highlight the experience of the western frontier, of transportation and settlement, of the gold rush and resource development in the remote area.

"It will chronicle a number of small historic communities that developed around transportation needs and one of Alaska's first gold rushes," Murkowski said. "It will recognize the struggles of early Alaska Natives, the Russians, gold rush stampeders and everyone who followed to produce trails and access into the resource-rich land of Alaska."

According to a press release from Murkowski's office, the measure would require no land acquisition by the National Park Service and would specifically prohibit any moves to obstruct or limit business or resource development activities in the corridor.

It would be managed by local, state and federal government agencies in cooperation with private, nonprofit organizations, and be operated by an 11-member board. Decisions would be made locally. The Department of the Interior would provide technical expertise to the board.

"There will be no additional land ownership by the federal government or by the local management entity. The heritage area is about local people working together," Murkowski said.

The heritage area would encompass historic routes from Seward, north through the Kenai Mountains and on to Anchorage. The route roughly follows that of

the first leg of the Iditarod National Trail and most of the Seward Highway National Scenic Byway.

The legislation has been introduced to Congress before by the Alaska delegation, but has never passed. The latest version contains language identical to earlier versions.

In 2000, a version of the bill drew reservations about some provisions from the U.S. Forest Service during President Bill Clinton's administration. Testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, Historic Preservation and Recre-ation at that time, then associate deputy chief for program and legislation, Sandra Key, said the Clinton administration believed in the heritage area designation, but opposed the bill as drafted.

Key sought amendments that would exclude national forest lands, vest the responsibility for providing technical assistance with the Secretary of Agriculture and provide explicit language showing that if conflicts arose between the area's management plan and the National Forest Lands management plan, the national forest plan would prevail.

Whether those reservations and amendments will be sought by the current administration is not yet known. According to Jim Franzel, a public affairs specialist with the Forest Service's Legislative Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., the Forest Service has yet to formulate a position on the new bill.

A field hearing on several pieces of federal legislation affecting Alaska is scheduled in Anchorage on Aug. 6. However, it appears now that Murkowski's heritage bill will not be on the agenda. Marnie Funk, communications director for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said the committee is waiting for a report from the U.S. General Accounting Office before proceeding forward on the various heritage bills. That report is not expected before this fall, Funk said.

Should the bill eventually become law as drafted, it would provide $350,000 the first year, and up to $1 million a year in subsequent years, but not more than $10 million overall. That funding would require a local match of at least 25 percent in funds or in-kind services. A sunset provision would prohibit federal appropriations beyond 15 years.

The managing entity would be required to develop a management plan to conserve, fund, manage and develop the heritage area.

BYLINE1:By HAL SPENCE

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has introduced a bill that would create a national heritage area in a region of the northern Kenai Peninsula that includes historic trails leading from tidewater in Prince William Sound north to Turnagain Arm.

U.S. Senate Bill 1330 would establish the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area, making the region eligible for federal assistance to "recognize, preserve and interpret" historic and modern development and culture in a transportation corridor first used by indigenous Alaskans and later by non-Native pioneers and settlers.

"By a national heritage designation, the traditions and cultural values of this part of the Kenai Peninsula will be portrayed and interpreted as part of human history in Alaska, including the early Native trade routes, connections by waterway and the railroad's coming," Murkowski said in introducing the measure in late June.

She said it would highlight the experience of the western frontier, of transportation and settlement, of the gold rush and resource development in the remote area.

"It will chronicle a number of small historic communities that developed around transportation needs and one of Alaska's first gold rushes," Murkowski said. "It will recognize the struggles of early Alaska Natives, the Russians, gold rush stampeders and everyone who followed to produce trails and access into the resource-rich land of Alaska."

According to a press release from Murkowski's office, the measure would require no land acquisition by the National Park Service and would specifically prohibit any moves to obstruct or limit business or resource development activities in the corridor.

It would be managed by local, state and federal government agencies in cooperation with private, nonprofit organizations, and be operated by an 11-member board. Decisions would be made locally. The Department of the Interior would provide technical expertise to the board.

"There will be no additional land ownership by the federal government or by the local management entity. The heritage area is about local people working together," Murkowski said.

The heritage area would encompass historic routes from Seward, north through the Kenai Mountains and on to Anchorage. The route roughly follows that of

the first leg of the Iditarod National Trail and most of the Seward Highway National Scenic Byway.

The legislation has been introduced to Congress before by the Alaska delegation, but has never passed. The latest version contains language identical to earlier versions.

In 2000, a version of the bill drew reservations about some provisions from the U.S. Forest Service during President Bill Clinton's administration. Testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, Historic Preservation and Recre-ation at that time, then associate deputy chief for program and legislation, Sandra Key, said the Clinton administration believed in the heritage area designation, but opposed the bill as drafted.

Key sought amendments that would exclude national forest lands, vest the responsibility for providing technical assistance with the Secretary of Agriculture and provide explicit language showing that if conflicts arose between the area's management plan and the National Forest Lands management plan, the national forest plan would prevail.

Whether those reservations and amendments will be sought by the current administration is not yet known. According to Jim Franzel, a public affairs specialist with the Forest Service's Legislative Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., the Forest Service has yet to formulate a position on the new bill.

A field hearing on several pieces of federal legislation affecting Alaska is scheduled in Anchorage on Aug. 6. However, it appears now that Murkowski's heritage bill will not be on the agenda. Marnie Funk, communications director for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said the committee is waiting for a report from the U.S. General Accounting Office before proceeding forward on the various heritage bills. That report is not expected before this fall, Funk said.

Should the bill eventually become law as drafted, it would provide $350,000 the first year, and up to $1 million a year in subsequent years, but not more than $10 million overall. That funding would require a local match of at least 25 percent in funds or in-kind services. A sunset provision would prohibit federal appropriations beyond 15 years.

The managing entity would be required to develop a management plan to conserve, fund, manage and develop the heritage area.



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