Alaska's King

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

For Sale: 15 National parks

U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo, chairman of the House Resources committee, has proposed to raise money by selling off 15 national parks, including seven in Alaska, according to a draft bill circulating Friday.

Park supporters declared themselves outraged.

"Can you believe this Pombo guy?" said Jim Stratton, Alaska director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

But Pombo's spokesman, Brian Kennedy, said the 285-page draft is not to be taken seriously. Its purpose, Kennedy said, was to come up with proposals that would raise as much money for the federal government as oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which Pombo ardently supports.

Drilling opponents should see that if Congress doesn't open ANWR "it would be outrageous and absurd alternatives, like selling national park units," Kennedy said. "So you see the joke."

The National Parks Conservation Association obtained a leaked copy and rang the media alarm. By Friday afternoon, the story was all over the place.

The 19 million Alaska acres on Pombo's list:

• Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve

• Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

• Cape Krusenstern National Monument

• Kobuk Valley National Park

• Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

• Noatak National Preserve

• Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve

Pombo, R-Calif., included the park sell-off in a draft of the budget reconciliation bill, a tool Congress sometimes uses to reach budget goals. As chairman of the resources committee, he was charged with proposing changes to public land laws to raise or save $2.4 billion. As expected, his draft also includes a plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, which is projected to meet Pombo's revenue requirement on its own.

Kristin Pugh, a spokeswoman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, said she likes the ANWR part. As for the Pombo's park proposal, "I can definitely tell you that Sen. Murkowski won't be going along with that," Pugh said.

Pete Schaeffer, chairman of the Cape Krusenstern subsistence resources commission in Kotzebue, doesn't think it is a joke. He sees the draft as a threat to the rural Alaskans who depend on hunting in those parks for their food.

The government needs money, and the deficit is ballooning, he said. The rest of the country might think selling Alaska parks is a good idea, he said.

"With our 'bridges to nowhere,' there's probably little sympathy for us," Schaeffer said, referring to the $450 million Alaska got this summer for two mega-spans.

Pombo is a rancher who represents the San Joaquin Valley and believes the government intrudes too much on private property owners. His congressional Web site features photos of him in a cowboy hat as well as recipes for his "BBQ marinade" and guacamole.


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12:22 PM  
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12:23 PM  
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12:23 PM  
Blogger The King of Alaska said...


Your post/comment/spam will be deleted. Don't bother posting it here.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous farker mcfly said...

I'm behind this 100%. And why not? The federal gubmint has most of Alaska locked up. The points in the article are valid.

12:42 PM  

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