Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/12/2003 02:53 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 88-FOREST RESOURCES & PRACTICES STANDARDS                                                                                  
CHAIR FATE  announced that the  final order of business  would be                                                               
SENATE  BILL NO.  88, "An  Act relating  to standards  for forest                                                               
resources and practices; and providing for an effective date."                                                                  
Number 2656                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  RALPH  SEEKINS,  Alaska State  Legislature,  sponsor  of                                                               
SB 88,  began by  informing the  committee that  this legislation                                                               
has been around  for some time and heard in  many committees over                                                               
the last few years; it is the  work of many.  He highlighted that                                                               
this is  one of the few  pieces of legislation that  doesn't have                                                               
anyone saying  he/she doesn't want  to do  it.  He  recalled that                                                               
last year this legislation moved  through the House and went over                                                               
to the  Senate, where at  the end it just  didn't make it  to the                                                               
Senate floor.                                                                                                                   
Number 2799                                                                                                                     
BRIAN HOVE, Staff to Senator Ralph Seekins, Alaska State                                                                        
Legislature, paraphrased the sponsor statement, which reads as                                                                  
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     This Bill revises the  riparian management standards of                                                                    
     the Forest  Resources Practices  Act (FRPA)  for Region                                                                    
     III by  strengthening protection  for fish  habitat and                                                                    
     water  quality in  a manner  that continues  to support                                                                    
     both the timber and fishing industries.                                                                                    
     The current  standards for Region  III were  adopted as                                                                    
     an interim  measure in  the 1990  revision of  the Act.                                                                    
     Under these  standards, harvesting can occur  up to the                                                                    
     back  of  the  anadromous  waters on  both  public  and                                                                    
     private land under some conditions.   With the proposed                                                                    
     Bill,  all  anadromous  and  high-value  resident  fish                                                                    
     waters  are  classified   and  riparian  standards  are                                                                    
     established for each classification.                                                                                       
     The  requirements are  tailored to  the characteristics                                                                    
     and  fish habitat  need of  each  stream type.   A  no-                                                                    
     harvest buffer will be required  on most anadromous and                                                                    
     high-value  resident  fish   waters.    However,  along                                                                    
     glacial rivers  where some of the  most valuable timber                                                                    
     occurs, the standards  allow harvest of up  to half the                                                                    
     large white spruce in the  landward half of the buffer.                                                                    
     This allows landowners to capture  some of the economic                                                                    
     value within  the riparian  areas while  keeping enough                                                                    
     large trees to provide woody debris.                                                                                       
     This bill is  not a wholesale revision of the  Act.  It                                                                    
     has   substantive  changes   for  riparian   management                                                                    
     standards  applying   to  Region   III  only.     Other                                                                    
     technical  revisions include  changes to  the statewide                                                                    
     nomenclature   for   waterbody   classes   to   prevent                                                                    
     confusion   between   waterbody  types   in   different                                                                    
     regions.   The bill also moves  definitions of regional                                                                    
     boundaries from the regulations to  the Act and makes a                                                                    
     minor  change to  the regional  boundary  on the  Kenai                                                                    
     Peninsula  to  better   match  the  difference  between                                                                    
     forest types.  Most forestland  in the affected area is                                                                    
     in federal  ownership, so there will  be minimal impact                                                                    
     on other landowners.                                                                                                       
     SB 88 helps ensure that  FRPA continues to be certified                                                                    
     for  compliance  with  federal   Clean  Water  Act  and                                                                    
     coastal zone management requirements.   This means that                                                                    
     the Act  continues to  provide "one-stop  shopping" for                                                                    
     the timber  industry with respect to  state and federal                                                                    
     non-point  source  pollution   and  coastal  management                                                                    
     This  bill is  founded  on the  best science  available                                                                    
     including an extensive review  of existing research and                                                                    
     recommendations  of  an   interdisciplinary  Science  &                                                                    
     Technical   Committee.       The   committee   included                                                                    
     experienced  field   staff  from  the   state  resource                                                                    
     agencies and  private sector as  well as  University of                                                                    
     Alaska and federal scientists.                                                                                             
     An Implementation  Group that  included representatives                                                                    
     of   the   timber   and  fishing   industries,   Native                                                                    
     corporations and environmental  groups drafted language                                                                    
     to  implement  the  scientists'  recommendations  in  a                                                                    
     practical manner  that works in  the field.   This bill                                                                    
     is unanimously  endorsed by the  Board of  Forestry and                                                                    
     has support from a broad array of interest groups.                                                                         
TAPE 03-44, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2904                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  SEEKINS pointed  out that  the  committee packet  should                                                               
include an amendment  that is necessary to  bring the legislation                                                               
into  compliance with  the  recent transfer  of  the Division  of                                                               
Habitat [per EO 107].                                                                                                           
The committee took an at-ease from 7:14 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.                                                                       
Number 2846                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK moved to adopt Amendment 1, which reads as                                                                 
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     Page 1, line 5:                                                                                                            
          Delete "commissioner"                                                                                                 
          Insert "state forester"                                                                                               
     Page 3, line 17:                                                                                                           
          Delete "department"                                                                                                   
          Insert "state forester"                                                                                               
     Page 3, line 18:                                                                                                           
          Delete "Department of Fish and Game"                                                                                  
          Insert "deputy commissioner"                                                                                          
     Page 3, line 19:                                                                                                           
          Delete "commissioner"                                                                                                 
          Insert "state forester"                                                                                               
     Page 4, line 8:                                                                                                            
          Delete "department"                                                                                                   
          Insert "state forester"                                                                                               
     Page 4, lines 8-9:                                                                                                         
          Delete "Department of Fish and Game"                                                                                  
          Insert "deputy commissioner"                                                                                          
     Page 4, line 16:                                                                                                           
          Delete "department"                                                                                                   
          Insert "state forester"                                                                                               
     Page 4, line 17:                                                                                                           
          Delete "Department of Fish and Game"                                                                                  
          Insert "deputy commissioner"                                                                                          
     Page 4, line 24:                                                                                                           
          Delete "department"                                                                                                   
          Insert "state forester"                                                                                               
     Page 4, line 25:                                                                                                           
          Delete "Department of Fish and Game"                                                                                  
          Insert "deputy commissioner"                                                                                          
     Page 5, line 8:                                                                                                            
          Delete "commissioner"                                                                                                 
          Insert "state forester [COMMISSIONER]"                                                                            
There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                              
Number 2809                                                                                                                     
DOUGLAS HANSON, Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC), provided the                                                                    
following testimony:                                                                                                            
     Tanana  Chiefs  Conference supports  this  legislation.                                                                    
     Mainly, it'll provide set  guidelines for protection of                                                                    
     important subsistence and  commercial use fish habitat.                                                                    
     The bill is the result  of a long process involving the                                                                    
     science  and  tech  committee that  utilizes  the  best                                                                    
     available science to  develop riparian buffer standards                                                                    
     that apply to the Alaska Interior region situations.                                                                       
     The  bill also  is  the product  of the  implementation                                                                    
     group that  had support  from industry  as well  as the                                                                    
     Native landowners.  The standards  that are proposed in                                                                    
     the bill  will be simple  to enforce, easy  to initiate                                                                    
     and  are understood  by the  general public,  the rural                                                                    
     village  areas as  well as  the professional  forester.                                                                    
     Passage  of the  bill will  avoid uncertainties  in the                                                                    
     application   of   previous  sometimes-vague   riparian                                                                    
      Also, the bill pertains to  the analysis of the Tanana                                                                    
     Valley State Forest Management  Plan and the amendments                                                                    
     for the Unit 2 area.   In that area, which is the Lower                                                                    
     Tanana region,  the issues of riparian  protection were                                                                    
     agreed on  that would ... use  these interim guidelines                                                                    
     in  the  buffer  standards.    So  with  that,  they're                                                                    
     already part  of the Tanana  Valley State  Board's plan                                                                    
     update, using some of these  interim guidelines.  So, I                                                                    
     think it's  time to pass  this legislation and  move on                                                                    
     with good forest management standards.                                                                                     
Number 2725                                                                                                                     
THOMAS (CHRISTOPHER)  STARK, Fisheries  Seat, Board  of Forestry;                                                               
Fisheries Biologist,  University of Alaska Fairbanks;  Bering Sea                                                               
Fisherman's  Association;   Yukon  River   Fisheries  Development                                                               
Association;   explained  that   he   couldn't   speak  for   the                                                               
university.  However, for the  other entities for which he works,                                                               
this  legislation is  a good  thing that  should get  done.   Mr.                                                               
Stark said  that the  fish will  be all right  with this  type of                                                               
riparian buffer.                                                                                                                
Number 2678                                                                                                                     
JOHN  "CHRIS" MAISCH,  Regional Forester,  Division of  Forestry,                                                               
Northern   Region  Office,   Department  of   Natural  Resources,                                                               
announced support for SB 88.                                                                                                    
CHAIR FATE  said he's learned  from several people in  the forest                                                               
products industry that  erosion along a stream  often takes place                                                               
where a  heavy forest is  undercut.   When those trees  fall, the                                                               
root structure  is so large  that it  takes large pieces  of bank                                                               
and the  erosion process  is increased.   He  asked if  there has                                                               
been  any  research  that  allows  for  those  large-trunk  trees                                                               
connected to a stream to be  cut within a certain distance of the                                                               
stream in  order to keep  those trees  from falling over  so that                                                               
the  root  structure becomes  part  of  the materials  inhibiting                                                               
MR. MAISCH said he wasn't  familiar with any specific research of                                                               
that on the  Tanana River.  However, this issue  was discussed in                                                               
the  finance  and technical  committee,  half  of whom  felt  the                                                               
Tanana  River  isn't controlled  by  vegetation  from an  erosion                                                               
standpoint,  while  the  other  half  felt  there  was  no  clear                                                               
evidence  to  support the  notion  that  cutting the  tree  would                                                               
prevent erosion any faster than leaving  the tree in place on the                                                               
bank.   However,  Mr. Maisch  indicated this  legislation has  an                                                               
accompanying  regulation  that  allows  continued  customary  and                                                               
traditional use  for wood gathering and  fish-related log floats.                                                               
In fact, up to 30,000 board of  feet of logs can be taken without                                                               
invoking  the   Forest  Resources  and  Practices   Act  ("Forest                                                               
Practices Act").   Therefore, folks  can continue to cut  logs on                                                               
the  riverbanks in  a fashion  similar  to what  Chair Fate  just                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE  indicated this  is good legislation.   She                                                               
recalled  working  as  the  assistant  commissioner  of  DNR  and                                                               
remarked that the  work behind the FRPA,  riparian standards, and                                                               
buffer zones  took years.   She informed the committee  that this                                                               
legislation was originally HB 131  and SB 98, which moved through                                                               
the House  Special Committee on  Fisheries, the House  and Senate                                                               
Resources Standing  Committees, and the Senate  Finance Committee                                                               
without opposition.                                                                                                             
CHAIR  FATE, upon  determining  no one  else  wished to  testify,                                                               
closed the public testimony.                                                                                                    
Number 2520                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  asked  if  this  legislation  would  cover                                                               
[Regions] I, II, and III.                                                                                                       
SENATOR SEEKINS clarified that  this legislation basically covers                                                               
[Region]  III,  with some  minor  boundary  changes below  Seward                                                               
toward the Homer area.  He  noted that [Region] III can basically                                                               
be described as north of the Alaska Range.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO,  upon reviewing the definitions,  asked why                                                               
this wouldn't  simply be  a state issue;  he surmised  that there                                                               
must be  some reason that  prevents applying this  legislation to                                                               
other areas.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SEEKINS pointed  out that  there are  riparian standards                                                               
for different  areas.  Region  III is  the last and  probably the                                                               
most  current  and  best  [of   the  riparian  standards].    The                                                               
standards attempt  to meet  the types  of conditions  existing in                                                               
the region.  He related his  belief that the definitions [for the                                                               
different riparian standards]  would be fairly uniform.   He said                                                               
he would  prefer [including  the definitions  for each  region] -                                                               
even if  that meant  redundancy -  in order  to have  an accurate                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO surmised  that Southeast  Alaska, with  its                                                               
fast-moving  streams, waterfalls,  and  large-trunk trees,  would                                                               
require different  regulations than  would the Yukon  Flats, with                                                               
its  meandering river.   Representative  Gatto related  that he'd                                                               
read  the legislation  to be  all encompassing,  although he  now                                                               
understood it not to be.                                                                                                        
SENATOR SEEKINS  said it's  customized, as  much as  possible, to                                                               
the terrain and type of growth in the region.                                                                                   
Number 2373                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE moved  to report SB 88, as  amended, out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  notes.   There being  no  objection, HCS  SB 88(RES)  was                                                               
reported from the House Resources Standing Committee.                                                                           

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