Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/12/2003 02:53 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 standards. 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 standards. 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 erosion. 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 mentioned. 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 definition. 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.