Legislature(1995 - 1996)
05/01/1995 09:03 AM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 91 MARINE PARKS ADDITIONS/CHANGES Number 190 KATTARYNA BENNETT, HOUSE RESEARCHER TO REPRESENTATIVE CAREN 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 folders. 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. BILL GARRY, SUPERINTENDENT, SOUTHEAST AREA, DIVISION OF PARKS AND 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. CRISTI HERREN, REPRESENTATIVE, JUNEAU STATE PARKS ADVISORY BOARD, 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. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT made a MOTION to CONCEPTUALLY AMEND HB 91 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.