Chapter 15 SLA 09 allocates a portion of the State of Alaska's CIAP funds to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development for legislatively-named recipents. The City and Borough of Sitka was appropriated $774,988 through this legislation for capital projects. These funds are being administered through the Community Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CCIAP).
The City and Borough of Sitka is a Unified Home Rule Municipality located on the west coast of Baranof Island fronting the Pacific Ocean, on Sitka Sound. Sitka encompasses some 4,710 square miles within its political jurisdiction, with over 1,300 miles of coastline. An extinct volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, rises 3,200 feet above the community.
Sitka was originally inhabited by a major tribe of Tlingits, who called the village "Shee Atika." Russian Vitus Bering's expedition arrived in 1741, and the site became "New Archangel" in 1799. St. Michael's Redoubt trading post and fort were built here by Alexander Baranof, manager of the Russian-American company. By 1808, Sitka was the capital of Russian Alaska. Baranof was Governor from 1790 through 1818. During the mid-1800s, Sitka was the major port on the north Pacific coast, with ships calling from many nations. Furs destined for European and Asian markets were the main export, but salmon, lumber, and ice were also exported to Hawaii, Mexico, and California.
After the purchase of Alaska by the U.S. in 1867, Sitka remained the capital of the Alaska territory until 1906, when the seat of government was moved to Juneau. A Presbyterian missionary, Sheldon Jackson, started a school, and in 1878 one of the first canneries in Alaska was built in Sitka. During the early 1900s, gold mines contributed to its growth, and the city was incorporated in 1913. During World War II, the town was fortified and the U.S. Navy built an air base on Japonski Island across the harbor, with 30,000 military personnel and over 7,000 civilians. After the war, the BIA converted some of the buildings to be used as a boarding school for Alaska Natives, Mt. Edgecumbe High School. The U.S. Coast Guard now maintains the air station and other facilities on the Island. A large pulp mill began operations at Silver Bay in 1960. In 1971, the city and borough governments were unified. Sitka offers abundant resources and a diverse economy.
Sitka’s economy is diversified with fishing, fish processing, tourism, government, transportation, retail, and healthcare services. Cruise ships bring over 200,000 visitors annually. 551 residents hold commercial fishing permits and fish processing provides seasonal employment. Sitka Sound Seafood and the Seafood Producers Co-op are major employers. Regional healthcare services, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard also employ a number of residents.
As a recipient of CCIAP funds, the City and Borough of Sitka has developed projects to be funded through the City and Borough's CCIAP allocation. The Borough ranked these projects in Tier 1 and Tier 2 project lists to address regional priorities. The Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Division of Community and Regional Affairs then sent the proposed project lists to the Department of Natural Resources for inclusion in the state's CIAP plan.
Mount Edgecumbe, Sitka. Photo: Sally Russell Cox, DCCED/DCRA
Government Relations Director
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development