U.S. House advances park land swap for small hydro project

WASHINGTON 11/1/11 (PennWell) — The U.S. House has endorsed legislation that would authorize a national park land exchange and construction of a 100-kW hydroelectric project in a non-wilderness area of Denali National Park in Alaska.

The House passed the Kantishna Hills Renewable Energy Act of 2011 (H.R. 441) on a voice vote Oct. 24, sending it to the Senate for further action. A similar bill, S. 313, has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

The author of the House bill, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, called it “win-win” legislation.

“Not only does my bill lower fossil fuel use in Denali, but it will also lower costs for lodge operators and visitors,” Young said. “Alaska has far too many resources to be burning diesel for electricity, especially in a place where hydroelectricity can be developed.”

If passed by the Senate, the bill would allow the Interior Department secretary to authorize micro-hydropower projects of no more than 100 kW in the park. That would allow Doyon Tourism Inc., a Fairbanks-based native corporation, to build a project on Eureka Creek to power Katishna Roadhouse, a back-country lodge that Doyon owns 100 miles inside the park. The lodge currently is powered by diesel generation.

It also would allow for a land exchange within the Katishna Hills area, defined as the area of the park within two miles of Moose Creek. The land exchange is to consolidate ownership of park and Doyon Tourism lands, including those affected solely by the Doyon hydro project. Park land near Doyon land at the mouth of Eureka Creek would be exchanged by February 2015 for 18 acres of land owned by Doyon within the Galena patented mining claim.

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