Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 120

04/16/2014 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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Moved Out of Committee
Moved HCS CSSB 173(JUD) Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
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          SCR  2-ACQUIRE TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST LAND                                                                       
1:17:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
CS  FOR  SENATE  CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION NO.  2(JUD),  Urging  the                                                               
governor to acquire land in  the Tongass National Forest from the                                                               
United  States  government  by  purchase  or  negotiation  or  by                                                               
seeking amendment to the Alaska Statehood Act.                                                                                  
1:19:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BERT   STEDMAN,  Alaska  State  Legislature,   said  the                                                               
resolution deals  with the Tongass National  Forest and indicated                                                               
that the  Tongass National Forest  was created  in 1907.   At the                                                               
end  of  WWII,  Japan  needed  a  timber  supply  and  looked  to                                                               
Southeast Alaska for  that, and that helped create  pulp mills in                                                               
Sitka and Ketchikan.  Both had  sawmills as well, he said.  Based                                                               
on the  economics at that  time, the  desire was to  create year-                                                               
round jobs in Southeast Alaska on  federal forest lands.  He said                                                               
that the  political climate  has changed  since, and  the 50-year                                                               
logging contracts  were shortened  to account  for that.   Today,                                                               
the pulp  mills are  being closed and  removed and  both sawmills                                                               
are  gone, he  explained.   He  noted a  medium-sized sawmill  on                                                               
Prince of  Wales Island, and  said the timber industry  is unlike                                                               
it was 30 years ago.  If  Anchorage lost its airport, it would be                                                               
of similar impact to the economy, he stated.                                                                                    
1:21:33 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN said what he is  trying to do now is to stabilize                                                               
the  economy  in  Southeast  Alaska;  the  population  "has  been                                                               
paralyzed for  quite some time  while the growth is  in Anchorage                                                               
and Mat-Su."   A few years ago it was  forecasted that the region                                                               
would lose  up to 20  to 30 percent  of its population,  and that                                                               
has  not happened  because of  the hard  work of  many.   "But we                                                               
could do  better," he said.   In trying to ensure  timber for the                                                               
remaining  saw mill  and the  other  operators and  to have  more                                                               
local and  state control, Alaska  needs to select some  lands out                                                               
of the Tongass National Forest, he  opined.  If Alaska cannot get                                                               
the  land  through  the  Statehood  Act,  SCR  2  encourages  the                                                               
governor  to discuss  purchasing the  land, out  right, from  the                                                               
federal government.   He said,  "Do whatever  we can to  get more                                                               
land  into  the  State  of  Alaska's  hands...and  other  private                                                               
individual's hands,"  including Alaska Native corporations.   The                                                               
less federal  land there is in  Alaska, the better off  the state                                                               
is,  because  Alaska  is  a  resource  extraction  state  and  is                                                               
different  from the  East Coast,  he explained.   He  said it  is                                                               
difficult to keep  year-round jobs when the  economic strings are                                                               
pulled out of Washington D.C. instead  of locally.  He added that                                                               
it is important to support the  governor in his endeavors to push                                                               
back  against the  federal  government  and to  try  to get  some                                                               
private land and state land out of the Tongass.                                                                                 
1:24:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER said  he is on a citizen's  advisory commission that                                                               
had a  summit last  summer on federal  overreach.   The testimony                                                               
was that  the U.S. Forest Service  has gone from a  philosophy of                                                               
"working forests" to preservation.                                                                                              
DICK  COOSE,  Ketchikan,  said  he is  retired  from  the  Forest                                                               
Service  but is  speaking  for  himself.   He  worked  as a  land                                                               
manager on  the Tongass National  Forest for 14 years,  he noted.                                                               
He  said he  supports SCR  2, because  the federal  government no                                                               
longer has the  desire or the capability to  manage federal lands                                                               
for the health of the lands  and the benefit of the local people.                                                               
He  said he  sees little  hope that  the federal  government will                                                               
change its  attitude, but the state  has a proven record  of good                                                               
forest  management,  and the  Statehood  Act's  limit of  400,000                                                               
acres  was OK  when there  were two  pulp mills,  but today  that                                                               
limitation is not  necessary.  The mills were driven  out by "the                                                               
feds,"  he opined,  and  the  state would  be  the best  manager.                                                               
Alaska needs to  take ownership of the entire  national forest or                                                               
it should select 5 million acres, he added.                                                                                     
1:26:18 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID BEEBE,  representing the City  of Kupreanof, said SCR  2 is                                                               
at   odds  with   Article  VIII,   Section  4,   of  the   Alaska                                                               
Constitution,   which  mandates   managing  fish,   forests,  and                                                               
wildlife  under sustained  yield principles.   He  said sustained                                                               
yield  requires  that  ecosystems  function  without  significant                                                               
impairment, and the  state has long known  that impairing forests                                                               
in  Southeast Alaska  precludes  the sustainable  yield of  Sitka                                                               
black-tailed deer.  He told  the committee that a major symposium                                                               
in  Juneau  in  1978  documented  the  concern  for  future  deer                                                               
populations from clearcut  logging, and in 1993  the Alaska Board                                                               
of  Game   passed  a  resolution  unanimously   recommending  the                                                               
protection of  high-volume old growth forests  because the Alaska                                                               
Constitution  mandates  wildlife resources  to  be  managed on  a                                                               
sustained-yield  basis   for  all  of   the  people   of  Alaska.                                                               
Emergency closures  and significant restrictions on  deer hunting                                                               
presently  exist  in   a  20-mile  radius  around   the  City  of                                                               
Kupreanof, he stated, and it is not a new problem.                                                                              
1:27:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BEEBE  said Mitkof Island first  suffered severe restrictions                                                               
to its deer populations in the  early 1970s, and the deer numbers                                                               
are  not  recovering 40  years  later.    He explained  that  the                                                               
structure  and function  of the  habitat, according  to the  best                                                               
available  science, will  not be  restored for  two centuries  or                                                               
more.   If  SCR  2 passes  and its  ultimate  ends are  achieved,                                                               
Alaska can expect a much  larger rural subsistence predicament to                                                               
occur  across more  of Southeast  Alaska.   He noted  that Gordon                                                               
Harrison, the author of the  Alaska Constitution Citizen's Guide,                                                               
said that Alaska's delegate to  Congress, Bob Bartlett, wanted to                                                               
defend against  "freewheeling disposals  of public  resources and                                                               
colonial style  exploitation," and that is  precisely the central                                                               
premise of  SCR 2.   The constitution establishes  the obligation                                                               
of  the   government,  including   the  legislature,   to  assure                                                               
sustained yield management, and he  urged the committee to uphold                                                               
the oath  the members took  to defend the constitution  by voting                                                               
no on SCR 2.                                                                                                                    
1:29:28 PM                                                                                                                    
JAMES  SULLIVAN, Southeast  Alaska Conservation  Council (SEACC),                                                               
said that  SEACC also opposes SCR  2.  The resolution  proposes a                                                               
return to a "timber-first" forest  policy on the Tongass National                                                               
Forest, and it attacks the  Forest Service's attempt to create an                                                               
integrated  forest  plan that  takes  into  account the  numerous                                                               
aspects  and uses  of  the  forest, he  stated.   The  resolution                                                               
ignores the needs  and desires of the local  communities in order                                                               
to cater  to a single  industry.  Federal law  requires multi-use                                                               
and  sustained  yield  of  all  renewable  forest  resources,  he                                                               
stated,  but  state forests  are  managed  primarily for  timber,                                                               
which is in direct conflict with the Alaska Constitution.                                                                       
1:30:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SULLIVAN said  that Southeast  Alaska has  adapted to  a new                                                               
Tongass.  He  noted that the sponsor of SCR  2 spoke of decisions                                                               
made after  WWII, but  that is  a step  back in  time and  in the                                                               
wrong direction, he  opined.  Communities have  transitioned to a                                                               
new economy and are improving wages  and the quality of life.  He                                                               
said the Southeast Conference Annual Report states:                                                                             
     It  is  a good  time  to  live  and work  in  Southeast                                                                    
     Alaska.   The  economy  of Southeast  Alaska  is in  an                                                                    
     expansion phase and has been  since 2008.  Between 2010                                                                    
     and  2012,  the  economic  growth  of  the  region  has                                                                    
     intensified.   Nearly  every single  economic indicator                                                                    
     for the region is up and continues to rise.                                                                                
MR.  SULLIVAN said  the report  also states  that the  region has                                                               
more workers  than ever,  along with  the highest  total payroll,                                                               
even  when  adjusted for  inflation.    He added  that  Southeast                                                               
Alaska has gone  through a difficult transition with  the loss of                                                               
the two  pulp mills, but  the region is diversifying  and turning                                                               
into a  more vibrant economy.   He  asked that the  committee let                                                               
the Tongass National Forest transition the way it is.                                                                           
1:32:49 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SULLIVAN said  the sponsor  of SCR  2 has  previously stated                                                               
that the  resolution is  designed to open  up a  discussion about                                                               
the   Tongass,  but   any  discussion   about  land   use  should                                                               
acknowledge  it as  a "salmon  forest"  and incorporate  tourism,                                                               
fishing, subsistence use, and energy  along with timber.  All are                                                               
important  to Southeast  Alaskans,  he said,  and  all are  being                                                               
ignored in the resolution.  He said  he does not want to kill the                                                               
timber industry, but  he wants an industry that  will not destroy                                                               
all the  other industries.   He also encouraged the  governor and                                                               
legislators  to establish  mechanisms for  developing government-                                                               
to-government  processes  with  the tribes  in  Southeast  Alaska                                                               
regarding resource use.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  asked how  many jobs have  been lost  due to                                                               
the  "basic shut  down of  the  forestry industry"  and how  much                                                               
revenue has been lost due to restrictions on logging.                                                                           
1:34:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SULLIVAN  said there were over  500 jobs lost [when  the pulp                                                               
mills  shut  down] in  the  early  1990s.   Currently,  Southeast                                                               
Alaska has the most job growth ever,  he added.  Timber is a much                                                               
smaller part  of that industry in  the region, he said,  and even                                                               
though the  large pulp mills are  gone and there is  a diminished                                                               
number of logs being exported, there  are well over a dozen small                                                               
working mills within  the communities.  "We  would encourage this                                                               
legislature to  find ways of  enhancing and finding ways  to help                                                               
those small  mills that  live in the  community and  are creating                                                               
jobs in  the community and  putting food  on the plates  of their                                                               
families."   For the most  part, the  small mills have  access to                                                               
enough  timber, but,  he suggested,  the  legislature could  help                                                               
them diversify.                                                                                                                 
1:35:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN asked  how  much revenue  has  been lost  to                                                               
Alaska from what some would call a shutdown of logging.                                                                         
MR. SULLIVAN  said there is  no shutdown; over 150  million board                                                               
feet of timber was taken out of Southeast Alaska last year.                                                                     
CHAIR  KELLER noted  that the  Department  of Fish  and Game  has                                                               
primary management  of wildlife.  He  asked if the state  will be                                                               
incapable  [of  management].    He then  said  that  DNR  (Alaska                                                               
Department  of Natural  Resources) is  fully capable  of handling                                                               
management under the state.                                                                                                     
MR.  SULLIVAN said  the danger  is not  who is  managing Alaska's                                                               
wildlife.   The  danger is  what decision  are made  for Alaska's                                                               
habitat, he clarified.  He  said wildlife managers will be forced                                                               
to  make  decisions that  they  do  not  want  to make,  and  the                                                               
Endangered Species  Act may  come into  play that  could actually                                                               
affect the small communities.                                                                                                   
1:37:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he  has not intimately  lived with                                                               
this issue,  but there seems  to be a  mixing of two  topics, and                                                               
the mixing is  having an effect on the tenor  of this discussion.                                                               
The  first  issue  is  whether  Alaska is  entitled  to  get  the                                                               
remainder  of its  promised acreage  and whether  it should  come                                                               
from  the Tongass  National  Forest, and  a  different issue,  he                                                               
said, is what  the state would use  the land for.  It  may not be                                                               
the time to discuss that until the state takes ownership.                                                                       
1:38:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER  said he  is absolutely right,  and he  would rather                                                               
not  make  that  a  dialogue between  "you  and  the  testifier,"                                                               
because there  is a lot of  talk about the revised  TLMP [Tongass                                                               
Land Management Plan].                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked if this  is the time to discuss if                                                               
Alaska should be entitled to proceed with its selections.                                                                       
CHAIR KELLER surmised  that the question posed by the  bill is to                                                               
support the  governor's attempt to negotiate  for land settlement                                                               
that includes  the Tongass National  Forest in order  to increase                                                               
logging in Southeast Alaska.                                                                                                    
1:39:59 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SULLIVAN said  regardless of  who is  actually managing  the                                                               
land, it  would be SEACC's  hope that  the acres are  managed for                                                               
the multiple uses of the forest.                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEDMAN said  the  intent  of a  land  selection in  the                                                               
Tongass would  be to increase the  timber supply, but there  is a                                                               
lot of  recreational needs.  He  said there are state  forests in                                                               
the Tongass, and  the intent is not to get  land from the federal                                                               
government and  clearcut it all, but  to get it into  the control                                                               
of the state  so it can control  its own destiny.   The state has                                                               
been a very good  steward of game: "Where I live  in Sitka, I can                                                               
shoot six  deer; my  wife can  shoot six;  my daughter  can shoot                                                               
six."  He said his only limit is on how much he can eat.                                                                        
1:41:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER  asked about the  Alexander Archipelago  wolf, which                                                               
is  having a  status  review.   It would  be  speculation on  the                                                               
impact on whether it is federal or state land, he said.                                                                         
SENATOR STEDMAN  said there is the  wolf, the spotted owl,  and a                                                               
multitude of issues  with land and aquatic animals  that a person                                                               
could point to  as an excuse to maintain federal  control.  There                                                               
are no wolves  on Baranof Island, he stated, but  there are brown                                                               
bears, so he is  not as familiar with [the wolf].   "If it wasn't                                                               
for the wolf,  it would be just another  creature," he explained,                                                               
and the basic argument is over development.                                                                                     
CHAIR KELLER closed public discussion.                                                                                          
1:42:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN   moved  to  report  CSSCR   2(JUD)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR KELLER objected.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he would  like to see what  can be                                                               
done, with  good management, to  help the  economy here.   We are                                                               
all Alaskans,  he said, and it  is time that the  legislature did                                                               
something to help this part of the state-and other parts.                                                                       
CHAIR  KELLER removed  his objection.   Seeing  no others,  CSSCR                                                               
2(JUD) moved out of the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 45 Leg. Legal Opinion.pdf HJUD 4/16/2014 1:00:00 PM
HB 45
SJR 23 ACPE Resolution of Support.pdf HJUD 4/16/2014 1:00:00 PM
SJR 23
SJR 23 Support Letter~University of Alaska.pdf HJUD 4/16/2014 1:00:00 PM
SJR 23
SJR 23 Witness List HJUD.pdf HJUD 4/16/2014 1:00:00 PM
SJR 23
HCCSSB 173 ver. Y Draft.pdf HJUD 4/16/2014 1:00:00 PM
SB 173
HCSCSSB 173 ver. Y Leg. Legal Memo.pdf HJUD 4/16/2014 1:00:00 PM
SB 173