Murkowski introduces bill to restore subsistence rights to Saxman

KETCHIKAN -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski has introduced legislation that would reverse a 2007 federal decision designating Saxman a nonrural community, which made residents ineligible for subsistence hunting and fishing on federal land.

The bill would reinstate the list of rural Alaska communities as it stood prior to 2007, reports the Ketchikan Daily News.

In that year, the Federal Subsistence Board's rural determination criteria put Saxman within Ketchikan's nonrural designation, sparking protest from the Saxman community.

"The people of the Organized Village of Saxman have been fighting this flawed decision for going on eight years now, and despite the facts and history being on their side the federal government has yet to reconsider the decision," Murkowski said.

Murkowski's legislation would also bar the federal government from changing the status of Saxman or other Alaska communities unless done through an act of Congress.

It has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Murkowski chairs.

"We'll hold our breath, and wait and see what happens," said Saxman council president Lee Wallace.


Wallace said a lawsuit filed by the community's tribal government in 2014 will remain as a placeholder and something Saxman can pursue if there is not a full reversal of the 2007 decision.

The Federal Subsistence Board has been conducting a full review of its rural determination process.