Legislature(1995 - 1996)

05/01/1995 09:03 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 91 MARINE PARKS ADDITIONS/CHANGES                                        
 Number 190                                                                    
 ROBINSON, PRIME SPONSOR, told committee members HB 91 designates 13           
 islands in the Juneau area as a state marine park.  The islands               
 included in this parcel are located in Lynn Canal.  They are unique           
 because they can all be reached within a few minutes by skiff or a            
 few hours by kayak from the Juneau road system.  She stated the               
 primary use of the selected lands has been, historically, for                 
 recreation purposes.                                                          
 MS. BENNETT said in 1977, the islands were nominated by the city              
 and borough of Juneau for state selection from the Tongass National           
 Forest for recreation purposes.  In 1989, the state selected the              
 Channel Islands from the federal government under the Alaska                  
 Statehood Act.  She explained establishing the lands as a state               
 park would preserve the quality of existing and future recreational           
 usage and put the lands under the jurisdiction of the Division of             
 Parks, which is the proper enforcement agency for the land usage.             
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON, PRIME SPONSOR, noted that many of              
 the committee members had heard HB 91 in another committee.  She              
 stated HB 91 is not her bill, it is not Representative Elton's bill           
 but rather is a Juneau bill.  She noted this bill has passed the              
 House in the past and then got hung up in the Senate Rules                    
 Committee.  She pointed out the local borough assembly has a                  
 resolution in committee member folders in support of HB 91.  People           
 in the real estate agencies are also supportive of HB 91.                     
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON noted very small islands are being                    
 discussed.  She said the islands are already being used as parks              
 and HB 91 gives the Division of Parks, working with the local                 
 community, the type of enforcement needed to manage the islands               
 properly.  She noted local citizen groups are willing to help and             
 do what is needed to ensure that no additional responsibility is              
 put on the state.  She reiterated HB 91 was requested by the                  
 community and has a lot of support.                                           
 Number 259                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT noted Shelter Island is a popular deer hunting            
 island and is also used by duck hunters.                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated all existing permissible uses are              
 still allowed under HB 91.  She pointed out HB 91 ensures the                 
 property is being managed appropriately.  She noted the Alaska                
 Outdoor Council has a letter of support in committee member                   
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if homesteads are affected by HB 91.                
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON replied homesteads would not be affected by           
 HB 91.  She said the homesteaders have also expressed their support           
 for HB 91.                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if the state took ownership of the                 
 islands and offered the land for private ownership, would there be            
 any interest.                                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said several years ago, any available land            
 was offered through the land lottery.                                         
 OUTDOOR RECREATION, DNR, stated lands selected for disposal were              
 those lands at the south end of Shelter Island, which are the most            
 easily accessed.  He noted there still are lots available there.              
 He explained the rest of the lands are fairly steep and access is             
 difficult.  He said the other islands were selected mainly for                
 recreational use.                                                             
 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS clarified this land was made available to the            
 public at some point in the past.                                             
 Number 316                                                                    
 MR. GARRY said the land made available on the south end of Shelter            
 Island was identified early on as the best for private disposal.              
 The state did not ask for the rest of the lands for disposal but              
 rather for public recreation.  He noted under the Statehood Act,              
 there were two main themes for selection from the National Forests            
 --either community development or public recreation.  He stated the           
 rest of the lands selected, which now have been tentatively                   
 approved, were selected for public recreation.  He felt if the                
 islands were made available for disposal, someone would probably              
 come forward and buy them as speculation.  He added as far as the             
 islands' appropriateness for development and disposal, there has              
 not been any public support for that.                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN wondered if there had been any discussion            
 about turning the ownership of this area to the Juneau community              
 rather than the state.                                                        
 MR. GARRY replied the city does not have any further selection                
 rights under its municipal and selection entitlements.  The city              
 has completed its selection.                                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN said every year there are discussions                
 about closing certain state parks due to budget constraints.  He              
 noted there is a zero fiscal note attached to HB 91 due to the                
 community's willingness to help.  He asked if the community is not            
 willing to help, would this park be closed.                                   
 MR. GARRY stated funding for this park is not important at this               
 point.  He said passive management exists.  There are no plans to             
 put any facilities on the island, so there is nothing to close.  He           
 stated the islands will always be available.  The community has, on           
 a long term basis, volunteered to take care of the islands on a               
 volunteer basis.                                                              
 Number 367                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked how the islands are currently policed.                
 MR. GARRY said the intent is to make the policing all volunteer.              
 He stated the division currently goes out to Shelter Island Marine            
 State Park and clean it up once a year.  Volunteers would be relied           
 on to take care of the other areas.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON explained there is the Juneau State Parks             
 Advisory Board and the Parks Board through the city.  She said as             
 with other parks, where volunteers are used, the intent is to work            
 with existing groups.  She noted the Southeast Alaska Guidance                
 Program is very interested in working with the department to assist           
 in doing whatever is needed to keep the areas clean.  She stated              
 many of these organizations not only have the skills, but also have           
 the equipment needed.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said it is hoped that the different groups            
 will be able to assist the department in doing the minimal kinds of           
 things that need to happen.  She noted these things will have to              
 happen regardless of whether or not the islands are transferred.              
 She stated the citizens of Juneau are frequently using these                  
 islands for recreation and one way or the other, the islands have             
 to be kept clean.                                                             
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there will not be any change within the            
 Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation and all land available for           
 private holdings have been sold, what is the advantage of                     
 converting the islands to state park status versus leaving them as            
 they are.                                                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON replied the main reason for converting the            
 islands to a state park is to give authority to the Division of               
 Parks and Outdoor Recreation to assist in appropriate policing                
 which may need to happen, including signs informing the public                
 about fire management, cleanliness, etc.                                      
 Number 415                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS clarified the public can take better care of             
 the state's land than the state can.                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON responded that is correct.                            
 TED MERRELL, JUNEAU, expressed support for HB 91.                             
 GAIL BILLS, JUNEAU, expressed support for HB 91.                              
 said her board was instrumental in asking Representative Robinson             
 to introduce HB 91 and is very much in support of HB 91.                      
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT noted if HB 91 is passed, that will be a few              
 more acres less available.                                                    
 ensuring hunting would be preserved in perpetuity in the park.                
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she did not object to the amendment              
 but noted it is clearly in the statute that has to happen.                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were any objections.  Hearing                
 none, the MOTION PASSED.                                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES made a MOTION to MOVE HB 91, as amended, with           
 zero fiscal note, out of committee with individual recommendations.           
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were any objections.  Hearing                
 none, the MOTION PASSED.                                                      

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