Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/17/2003 01:04 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 139-CLOSING CERTAIN LAND TO MINERAL ENTRY                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR FATE  announced that the  first order of  business would                                                               
be   HOUSE  BILL   NO.  139,   "An  Act   approving  an   interim                                                               
classification by  the commissioner of natural  resources closing                                                               
certain land within the Glacier  Creek and Winner Creek drainages                                                               
to new mineral entry; and providing for an effective date."                                                                     
Number 0133                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MIKE HAWKER,  Alaska State  Legislature, speaking                                                               
as the sponsor of HB 139,  characterized HB 139 as a pro-economic                                                               
development bill that requires the closure  of a mining area.  He                                                               
noted  that  [HB  139]  has  the support  of  the  Alaska  Miners                                                               
Association  and that  it affirms  the extension  of an  existing                                                               
closure  for  mineral entry  in  Girdwood  near the  Alyeska  Ski                                                               
Resort.   Approximately  10  year  ago, he  said,  this area  was                                                               
closed  to   new  commercial  mining   entry  and   the  existing                                                               
commercial  claims were  purchased outright.   The  mineral entry                                                               
holders  supported  this  closure  in  order  to  facilitate  the                                                               
expansion of  the ski resort.   During the  last 10 years  of the                                                               
existing  closure, he  said, the  hotel  development has  largely                                                               
concluded.  The target for the  next 10 years is to continue that                                                               
development past  the ski  facilities and around  to the  back of                                                               
the mountain, which requires the  reissuance of a mineral closing                                                               
order, to  extend the  closure for 10  more years,  he explained.                                                               
The governor  has reissued the  mineral closing order and  due to                                                               
AS  38.05.300(c)  the  legislature  is  required  to  affirm  the                                                               
closure orders  within 90  days, he said,  and the  90-day window                                                               
will end on April 20th.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER directed attention  to the committee packet                                                               
and the letters  of support, which are  from associations ranging                                                               
from  the  Alaska  Miners  Association  to  the  Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage  and the  Heritage Land  Bank.   Furthermore, he  said,                                                               
there  has  been verbal  support  of  this legislation  from  the                                                               
Girdwood Board  of Supervisors.   Representative  Hawker informed                                                               
the committee that this area was  heavily mined in the later part                                                               
of the 19th  century and largely played out  to commercial mining                                                               
in  the  mid-20th   century.    Today,  its   prospects  are  for                                                               
recreational mining.   He noted that the  committee packet should                                                               
include  a letter  from  the Division  of  Mining, Department  of                                                               
Natural Resources (DNR), that discusses  the history of this area                                                               
and  its  limited  commercial prospect.    Representative  Hawker                                                               
concluded by urging the committee  to forward this legislation in                                                               
order  to  allow  it  to  reach the  governor  in  the  timeframe                                                               
Number 0516                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  moved  to  adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS), labeled  23-LS0644\I,  Kurtz,  3/11/03, as  the                                                               
working  document.   There  being  no  objection, Version  I  was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
Number 0675                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF asked  whether  anybody  has received  input                                                               
from Chugach National Forest regarding support for this.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  HAWKER  explained  that   there  are  letters  of                                                               
support from  DNR and the  Heritage Land  Bank and that  of 5,740                                                               
acres, approximately  1,000 acres belongs to  the Municipality of                                                               
Anchorage, which supports  [HB 139].  He offered  his belief that                                                               
the land  in question is  state, not federal, property,  and that                                                               
10  years  ago, the  land  was  acquired  via  a Bureau  of  Land                                                               
Management  transfer  to  the  Municipality  [of  Anchorage]  for                                                               
transfer to  the State of Alaska.   He said the  Chugach National                                                               
Forest had been taken out of this issue about 10 years ago.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF,  noting that the Chugach  National Forest is                                                               
neighboring the property,  asked if neighbors had  been asked for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER deferred the question to his staff.                                                                       
Number 0695                                                                                                                     
SARA WRIGHT,  Staff to Representative  Mike Hawker,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  testified.   She explained  that the  Toohey family                                                               
owned quite  a bit of neighboring  land, and that Cam  Toohey had                                                               
been sent a  copy of the legislation and had  not been heard back                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER said the other  major adjacent land lessor,                                                               
the Alyeska Ski  Resort development area, is "very  much, as part                                                               
of  the 'Girdwood  20/20' organization,  in favor  of this."   He                                                               
talked about  a letter from  Chris Von Imhof, vice  president and                                                               
chief  executive officer  (CEO), Alyeska  Ski Resort,  supporting                                                               
this development.                                                                                                               
Number 0790                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  asked Representative Hawker  about the                                                               
difference between the bill and the proposed CS.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER  said he thought  the change  was suggested                                                               
by the  Alaska Miners Association.   He offered his  opinion that                                                               
it makes it a better bill.  He remarked:                                                                                        
     In  the first  draft  -  this is  a  moratorium at  the                                                                    
     moment -  again, it continues a  moratorium against new                                                                    
     mineral entry;  should tenures  come up  without having                                                                    
     any  commencement of  alternate development,  this land                                                                    
     will  revert   and  become  available   for  commercial                                                                    
     mineral  entry   again.    In  the   prior  bill,  that                                                                    
     reversion  required an  affirmative action  on part  of                                                                    
     the  administration.   ... The  CS  version makes  that                                                                    
     reversion  automatic unless  -- it  puts the  burden on                                                                    
     the administration to notify  or give notice that there                                                                    
     has been the  commencement of development.   It was ...                                                                    
     a reversing  of the notification process  and, frankly,                                                                    
     I believe it makes it a better bill.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG  remarked,  "That's in  a  conditional                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HAWKER, in  response, said  yes; that  is exactly                                                               
how that reads.                                                                                                                 
The committee took an at-ease from 1:13 p.m. to 1:14 p.m.                                                                       
Number 0952                                                                                                                     
BOB  LOEFFLER,  Director, Division  of  Mining,  Land and  Water,                                                               
Department of  Natural Resources  (DNR), testified,  noting DNR's                                                               
support for  the bill.   He explained  that the  closure occurred                                                               
about 10 years ago with the agreement  of all of the parties.  He                                                               
said since  that time the  legislature had passed  AS 38.005.300,                                                               
which requires  closures of this nature  to be acted upon  by the                                                               
legislature.  Mr. Loeffler said this  is an area with low mineral                                                               
value but  with a significant  potential for the  Municipality of                                                               
Anchorage.   He  offered his  belief  that a  10-year closure  to                                                               
allow  marketing  and financing  to  determine  whether [it  will                                                               
develop  into] a  significant  tourist location  is  in the  best                                                               
interest  of the  state and  takes very  little from  the mineral                                                               
Number 1034                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  asked if DNR  had contacted  any neighboring                                                               
[property  owners] or  the  Chugach National  Forest  to ask  for                                                               
their comments on this closure.                                                                                                 
MR.  LOEFFLER  said  he  expected  it  was  done  as  part  of  a                                                               
"Turnagain Arm plan" about 10  years ago; the department involved                                                               
"absolutely  everybody who  could possibly  be involved"  at that                                                               
time, and the U.S.  Forest Service was on the team.   He said the                                                               
[department] hadn't  redone it because  [HB 139] is  an extension                                                               
of the previous closure.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  expressed appreciation  and he  indicated it                                                               
was his  intention to ensure  that [the Forest Service]  had been                                                               
involved initially.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  asked Mr.  Loeffler if there  were any                                                               
requirements to ask again if there are any comments.                                                                            
MR. LOEFFLER  said a  public notice  was posted  as part  of this                                                               
mineral  closure.    He  remarked,   "So,  the  interim  closure,                                                               
actually, we already did the  public notice and received very few                                                               
significant comments."                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked for  clarification on whether Mr.                                                               
Loeffler  was  speaking  about the  original  [closure]  or  this                                                               
MR.  LOEFFLER  said it  was  also  done  the  last year  for  the                                                               
Number 1169                                                                                                                     
GEORGE CANNELOS, Director, Heritage  Land Bank, testified, noting                                                               
that  he  was [testifying]  on  behalf  of the  Municipality  [of                                                               
Anchorage].   He thanked Representative Hawker  for sponsoring HB                                                               
139  and he  expressed strong  support  for the  proposed CS;  he                                                               
suggested the  [proposed CS] is a  better bill.  He  said it will                                                               
provide  [the Municipality  of Anchorage]  a real  opportunity to                                                               
partner  with the  state and  private sector  to really  test the                                                               
feasibility of developing  Glacier [and] Winner Creek  as a major                                                               
alpine ski resort area and the  second such area in Girdwood.  He                                                               
talked about the intention later  this year, through the Heritage                                                               
Land Bank,  to issue  a [request for  proposals (RFP)]  to update                                                               
the development  concepts and economics  behind the project.   He                                                               
expressed hope  that by the  end of the year,  formally solicited                                                               
interests from  a prime  developer can be  sought.   He explained                                                               
that a project  of this magnitude would take  several phases, and                                                               
he offered  his belief that  10 years  is a reasonable  amount of                                                               
time  to see  if this  is  going to  go  or not.   He  reiterated                                                               
support for HB 139.                                                                                                             
Number 1262                                                                                                                     
BRUCE BUSTAMANTE,  President and  Chief Executive  Officer (CEO),                                                               
Anchorage  Convention   and  Visitors  Bureau,  testified.     He                                                               
expressed support for  the bill and talked about  HB 139 allowing                                                               
for the further  study of the Glacier-Winner Creek  area with the                                                               
possibility of further development.   He said the feeling is that                                                               
the Alyeska  Ski Resort has  added tremendously to  its portfolio                                                               
of offerings to the tourism industry  and that it adds greatly to                                                               
the  quality of  life in  Southcentral Alaska.   He  talked about                                                               
seeing expansion  of that particular area  to improve Anchorage's                                                               
position as a  world-class ski destination and he  said it really                                                               
"puts us  on the map"  in attracting more competitions  and such.                                                               
He expressed  support of the  city's position to move  ahead with                                                               
further study and development.                                                                                                  
Number 1353                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO noted  that he  was going  to vote  for the                                                               
bill  and  commended  Representative  Hawker for  writing  it  so                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER  gave credit  to legislative  legal counsel                                                               
for good  "lawyerly work" in  helping to  assemble the bill.   He                                                               
said  anybody  with   any  question  about  the   "ins  and  outs                                                               
appearance"  [or] a  concern  about  understanding the  technical                                                               
nature  of   the  legislation  should  refer   to  the  sectional                                                               
analysis, which he  noted is particularly well written.   He said                                                               
the credit  goes to his  staff and legislative legal  counsel for                                                               
doing a good job.                                                                                                               
Number 1461                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK turned  attention to  page 1,  lines 10-12,                                                               
which read:                                                                                                                     
     The  legislature  finds  that  the  Glacier  Creek  and                                                                    
     Winner Creek  drainages hold significant  potential for                                                                    
     the  development  of  a  new   four  season  resort  in                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  asked  what  the rationale  was  for  this                                                               
statement to be [included] in the bill.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER remarked:                                                                                                 
     As we've heard testimony  today from ... Mr. Bustamante                                                                    
     ...  with  the   [Anchorage]  Convention  and  Visitors                                                                    
     Bureau,   particularly  the   support  this   bill  has                                                                    
     received  up  from  ...  Mr.   Chris  Von  Imhof,  Vice                                                                    
     President  and CEO  of ...  Alyeska  [Ski] Resort,  and                                                                    
     writing  in   its  capacity   as  the   Girdwood  20/20                                                                    
     organization,  recognizing  this  is  a  ...  continued                                                                    
     implementation  of  a  long-term  economic  development                                                                    
     plan  in  the  Girdwood  valley, we  further  have  the                                                                    
     documentation  support in  the packets  here from  both                                                                    
     the  ...   Municipality  of   Anchorage  at   both  the                                                                    
     executive  level  and  specifically with  the  Heritage                                                                    
     Land Bank  personnel; ... Mr.  Cannelos is the  head of                                                                    
     Heritage Land  Bank, whose (indisc.).   The majority of                                                                    
     the  property Heritage  Land Bank  currently holds  and                                                                    
     operates is  in the Girdwood  valley, and it's  a major                                                                    
     mission   that   they're   undertaking,   is   economic                                                                    
     development   for  the   entire  Southcentral   Alaska,                                                                    
     specifically, the Municipality of Anchorage.                                                                               
     I truly believe  the support of this bill  - the reason                                                                    
     we're doing  it is for  the furthering of  the economic                                                                    
     potential of  a four-seasons resort  development, which                                                                    
     is for  the point  in the legislation  [that] indicates                                                                    
     the  legislature finds  that  these  drainages do  hold                                                                    
     specific potential  for the development of  a new four-                                                                    
     seasons  resort   based  on  the   extremely  competent                                                                    
     testimony  and well-based  research  done in  preparing                                                                    
     this legislation  and having  all of the  support we've                                                                    
     accumulated behind it.                                                                                                     
Number 1609                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO remarked:                                                                                                  
     If the  commissioner certifies that they  have followed                                                                    
     the rules and  have begun development, it  reminds me a                                                                    
     little bit  of stranded gas.   Once they've  passed the                                                                    
     test of  beginning development, is there  ... any limit                                                                    
     to saying, "Hey, you've got  to ... finish something in                                                                    
     some amount of time," or  is it just reserved for their                                                                    
     development at that point?                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE   HAWKER  offered   his  belief   that  there   is                                                               
sufficient  latitude in  the language  of the  bill, particularly                                                               
under Section 1  [page 1, lines 13-14,  and page 2, line  1].  He                                                               
said Anchorage  has utilized these land-use  and land-development                                                               
master plans extensively and he believed  it would be a very good                                                               
basis for  determining if the  development is legitimate  or not.                                                               
He mentioned  having sufficient  interests on  both sides  of the                                                               
issue  in the  future to  make certain  that that  development is                                                               
Number 1709                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  moved  to  report CSHB  139  [Version  23-                                                               
LS0644\I,  Kurtz,  3/11/03]  out  of  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and the accompanying  fiscal notes, and she asked                                                               
for unanimous consent.   There being no  objection, CSHB 139(RES)                                                               
was reported from the House Resources Standing Committee.                                                                       

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