Anchorage Daily News - January 18, 2001
CARA FUNDING SHRINKS
TALLY: Alaska is likely to get $50 million instead of $85 million.
By Elizabeth Manning
The compromise version of Sen. Frank Murkowski and Rep. Don Young's conservation lands legislation known as "CARA lite" is lighter than first announced -- at least when counting the amount of money Alaska stands to receive.
When the final piece of the legislation was passed in mid-December, Murkowski announced Alaska would get about $85 million in new federal funding this year. Now it appears the state may get closer to $50 million.
The money will pay for programs like park improvements, historic preservation, wildlife conservation and possibly land acquisition. And $10 million will go to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.
Although less than first expected, state officials said they are still thrilled to get the money.
"Obviously, we're pleased. But those who followed the CARA package through Congress may be disappointed," said Patrick Galvin, director of the state Office of Governmental Coordination.
Galvin's office is expecting about $13 million for coastal programs. A possibility might be to help communities like Shishmaref that suffer from beach erosion.
CARA's original purpose was to mitigate the effects of offshore oil and gas development and buy land for parks, wildlife refuges and recreation. The bill Young shepherded through the House of Representatives would have provided states $45 billion over 15 years; Alaska would have received $164 million annually.
The bill died in the Senate. Young and Murkowski crafted the compromise, which put $1.6 billion into two spending bills for 2001 to accomplish some of the same goals.
Murkowski's spokesman, Chuck Kleeschulte, said he didn't think that Alaska's portion would be as low as $50 million once all the money was accounted for. Part of the discrepancy is a big chunk of money for salmon habitat improvements. He said he thought Alaska was getting $36 million for salmon habitat. Amy Skilbred, who oversees the Pacific salmon recovery fund for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the figure is really $8 million.
Besides that difference, Kleeschulte said computer models had in a couple of cases overestimated Alaska's piece of the "CARA lite" pie. "These were the best estimates we had," at the time the bill passed, he said.
The following programs are among those funded:
Coastal impact assistance: $13 million.
Money for local parks. Murkowski's office said Alaska would get $2 million, but state park officials said the figure is actually $788,000.
State wildlife grants. This pays for both game and nongame conservation programs. Murkowski's office had thought Alaska would get $6 million. State officials said that figure is more like $2.3 million.
Urban park aid: $1 million.
Urban and community forestry aid: $1 million.
Reporter Elizabeth Manning can be reached at email@example.com or at 257-4323.
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