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In the opening presentation today it is hoped that the Federal agencies will describe their activities. In view of the fact that we are going north from here and west, back into Fairbanks, down through the area that lies between Fairbanks and Anchorage, for approxi-. mately 4 days of hearings in the Anchorage area, it is hoped that the members may develop in their own way on the several items we have here, with these witnesses, statistical and informational material which will help to guide them in the hearings in the several population centers in which hearings will be held.
Following the completion of testimony by the people who have been mentioned, the Fairbanks area hearings proper will be held. The presentation by organized groups will come first, principally as it has been arranged through the chamber of commerce, to be followed by a number of individuals who have asked to be heard on the subjects proposed to be covered.
In accordance with the understanding developed in Washington, we have placed on the agenda today a number of items covering subjects which range from: statehood through the commonwealth question as it relates to statehood and/or the continuing form of Territorial government preferred by the people and workable within the Territory; the question of an elective Governor for Alaska; the question of water resources and hydro-power development in the Territory; and the utilization of fisheries resources in the Territory of Alaska, including on the question of whether or not the Territory should have control of its commercial fisheries.
As was evident in many pieces of legislation before the subcommittee in this and the past several Congresses, a more effective land utilization program in Alaska has been urged from many suggestions made which would amend existing Federal statutes to provide for special forms of mineral entry in the Territory of Alaska. In that same connection there is the question of existing withdrawal from all forms of entry in what is designated as the Public Land Order 82 area, comprising some 50 million acres in the northern portion of the Territory.
Agricultural problems as they have arisen in the Territory will be considered. In many respects this goes to the question of homestead entry as it is provided for and, of course, is interrelated with overall resource development.
Also scheduled are transportation problems, which center around an historic and basic problem in Alaska, that of connecting remote population centers and the source of resources as they are found in the Territory, plus the basic problem arising by reason of distance over the land bridge which is formed by Canada or the water bridge between Seattle and the ports of Alaska.
Testimony will be presented, we are advised, both by the governmental subdivisions here and by numerous civic agencies and individuals as to the so-called sea train proposal, developments in the nature of international highways, the possibility of an international railroad over the Canadian land bridge connecting Alaska directly with the States, and the development of a more adequate highway system in the Territory of Alaska, along with the operations of the Alaska Railroad, which, of course, is operated by the United States.
In the area of legislative responsibility, which falls within the full committee, and where there has been legislation in the past several
1 Congresses, of particular interest to the Territories subcommittee is
that problem arising from the Indian, Aleut, and Eskimo population in Alaska which comes in Alaska only under what is denominated the Alaska Native Service, an arm of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The question of mental health in Alaska is peculiarly a responsibility of this subcommittee and a responsibility administratively of the Office of Territories of the Department of the Interior. Members are aware, of course, of the rather extensive consideration in the past several Congresses of the various legislative proposals dealing with the mental health program in Alaska. This committee this session reported to the House the Alaska mental health bill, which is high up on the calendar for the opening of the 2d session of the 84th Congress.
Mineral resources and hydroelectric developments are listed; and there will be, as we proceed through the hearings, a good deal of contribution from all sources on how better utilization of resources might be effected.
The presentation by the National Park Service, in view of certain earlier travel commitments, seasonal in nature, will be made both at McKinley Hotel where the committee will spend a short time en route to Anchorage, about a week from now; and there will be a presentation at Juneau by the park superintendent for McKinley National Park to point up some of the problems of that Federal agency in the Territory.
Similarly, although not a direct legislative responsibility of this committee, the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, whose activities are principally concerned with Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, will make their presentation at Ketchikan.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, that covers a rough format of what we hope to accomplish in these hearings.
Mr. O'Brien. Thank you very much, Mr. Abbott. I might suggest, if the committee pleases, that in the questioning of witnesses we depart just a little from our ordinary procedure in Washington and have Mr. Abbott question witnesses, with members free to interpose questions at any time, rather than go around and ask members in turn,
It is my experience very often in Washington when it comes to my turn I do not have a question. I think we will get more out of that
, if the committee has no objection to that procedure. Now we are delighted to present the distinguished Delegate from Alaska, Mr. Bartlett.
I might say, Bob, we are very happy to be in your very fine Territory, and we are grateful for the warm welcome we received today.
Mr. BARTLETT. Chairman O'Brien, members of the subcommittee, and members of the staff, on behalf of all Alaskans here and elsewhere in the Territory, I want to welcome you to Alaska. As you flew the hundreds of miles between Seattle and Fairbanks today, all except one of you did so in the capacity of cheechakos. There is one sourdough moted in the group, Mr. Dawson of Utah, who has been here before pd has travelled pretty generally around the Territory. The others f the committee, I believe, are bere for the first time. As I recall
, a subcommittee of the House Interior and Insular ffairs Committee has not visited Alaska since 1951. And as I call it further, not within my experience has a subcommittee
come forth to examine so generally into the problems and propositions that concern us so much in the Territory. Heretofore the groups came on special missions. For example, back about 1946 there was à Subcommittee on Statehood, later a Subcommittee on Indian Affairs, and again on Public Lands. This subcommittee, the Territorial Subcommittee, has a more inclusive role to play, because as Mr. Abbott indicated, it is going to run through the legislative matters lying within its jurisdiction from statehood, numbered “1”, to public land problems, numbered "12", and I do not doubt at all that other problems not within the orbit of this committee will be presented and I think the committee will welcome such presentation as adding to its store of knowledge.
My experience has been universally during the almost 11 years I have been in Washington as Delegate from Alaska, that a visit of this kind has been helpful to Alaska because it has always resulted in Members being better informed about the country, its people and its problems. That is what we need, of course, and that is what we want.
If any of us there is who believes this is going to be what is familiarly known as a junket, that person would, I am sure, change his mind were he to see the copies of the schedule and itinerary that Mr. Abbott handed us today shortly after the group arrived, because from this very day on through October 6 there are going to be daily hearings from here to Point Barrow and down clear to Ketchikan. The committee is going to work hard and I know that a constructive result will come about in our behalf as a result of the trip here.
I hope, and I think it is certain to follow, that the committee will hear in Fairbanks much about the road situation, because this is the hub from which stems so many of the important highways in the country. I hope that, in addition to hearing about McKinley Park in general and at the park itself, the committee will hear from witnesses in Fairbanks about the need for keeping the McKinley Park Hotel open for tourists during the years ahead.
The committee was impressed, I am sure, as it flew north today, with two facts, if nothing else, (1) that this is purely a Federal domain, with over 99 percent of all the land lying within the ownership of the Federal Government, and that (2) the transportation methods have altered very considerably since the earlier Territories were organized. The truth of that is demonstrated by the fact that the committee arrived in less than 6 hours after leaving Seattle. But I assure all of my fellow Alaskans that although only Mr. Dawson has been here before, the other members of the committee have a familiarity with this Territory which I am sure would surprise you because, as I have tried to point out on so many occasions since arriving here, this is the very subcommittee that handles perhaps 85 or 90 percent of all legislative matters having to do with Alaska in Washington, D. C. And although that kind of knowledge is no substitute for being on the ground as the committee now is, yet it does give a highly useful background.
The committee over the years has devoted much time and attention to matters having to do with Alaska, and I want to express at this time my thanks for that and my thanks also on a personal basis for their having come here on September 14, 1955, prepared to devote 3 strenuous weeks to Alaska and its affairs.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Before we proceed, Mr. Coulter, I would like to introduce the members of the committee who are here.
At my extreme left, Mr. Utt of California, Mr. Dawson of Utah,
So, having disposed of these amenities, Mr. Coulter, would you give us a statement?
STATEMENT OF KIRKLEY COULTER, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
of our programs.
Mr. COULTER. Mr. Chairman, if I might add a word to what Mr. Bartlett said, it is always very helpful to us in the Office of Territories when any congressional group visits Alaska. It makes it so much easier to discuss these things with you and we understand each other so much better.
My particular title is Assistant Director of the Office of Territories, and my particular responsibility is what is called the Alaskan Division. In the Department of the Interior the Office of Territories is a Bureau and in general charge of the Territories and possessions, but in the case of Alaska that does not mean that we attempt to control everything in Alaska. As I am sure the committee knows, the various other bureaus of our Department and other departments carry on their customary responsibilities in the same manner that they would in any of the States. Our particular shop has directly a limited number of responsibilities and I thought it might be helpful if I summarized each
We have specifically four major operating activities. Those are the
program, and the administration of the contract with Morningside Hospital for the care of mentally ill.
To summarize each of those operations briefly--and I might
Mr. Whitman, our general manager, happens to be in the room, but
agency is the Alaska Road Commission and that & Federal agency which has responsibility for construction and
maintenance of the basic road network of the Territory. Alaska is unique in the United States in the sense that this responsibility is carried by the Federal Government. As I am sure all of you know, in each of your States the central responsibility for roads is on a State agency and the financing is done either by State or State and local with a contribution called Federal aid from the Federal Government on a matching basis. We do not have that in Alaska. There is a Terri
a torial agency with rather restricted funds which is engaged in road construction, but the major part of the road construction is and has been for some years done by the Alaska Road Commission which is financed entirely by Federal appropriations. Just to give you some perspective on it, this present year our maintenance appropriations are $3million, our construction appropriations are $6,300,000. Appropriations ran better than $20 million a few years back when there was
a an urgent necessity to give a better basic road network partly for military reasons. That program has been almost completed and our appropriations have been reduced to the sums I have just mentioned.
The third major agency we have is called the Alaska public works program. That is, as far as I know, a unique system in the Federal system. The operation consists in construction of public works by a subdivision of our Alaska Division for municipalities, in some cases school districts and other local governmental units, in some cases for the Territory. The funds are appropriated by Congress. It is set up on a basis that the local subdivision of government must agree to repay half of the costs, and in the course of the last half-dozen years we have had appropriated to us, I think, fifty-four-odd million dollars.
I We have constructed schools, sewer works, streets, a few hospitals, perhaps 1 or 2 city halls, Territorial buildings, scattered pretty widely over the Territory, I think in every significant town. That operation is still underway on the basis I have just stated.
Our fourth operation is one that this committee is very familiar with, and that is the contract with Morningside Hospital in Oregon.
I think we have discussed that so many times you do not want to hear any more about it right now.
Over and beyond that we do have two other general functions. We are the channel for maintaining liaison with the Governor. There is a small item in our budget for payment of 2 or 3 things in the Territorial government structure, that is, the salaries of the legislators and of the Governor and Secretary, and I think, perhaps, 2 or 3 other persons in the Governor's office. Those are federally appropriated but everything else in the Territorial budget is handled out of the Territorial funds appropriated by the Territorial legislature in the normal way.
The other function that we have which gets involved rather widely in a great many things is the general function, of trying to represent Alaska in the councils of the Department and of the Government, and that can involve us in anything from the question of keeping the McKinley Park Hotel open to the question of rescinding Public Land Order 82. I mention those two as being rather important to us and as two things in which we have been actively engaged even though they are not specifically within the responsibility of our Office.
As the committee counsel mentioned, both of those you will hear considerable testimony on and I will not try to go too deeply into them. The local people are very much interested in them.