Legislature(2011 - 2012)BARNES 124

03/07/2011 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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               HB  97-EXTEND INVASIVE PLANTS LAW                                                                            
1:04:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  FEIGE announced  that the  first order  of business  is                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  97, "An  Act extending  a provision  relating to                                                               
noxious weeds, invasive plants,  and agricultural pest management                                                               
and education; providing  for an effective date  by repealing the                                                               
effective date  of sec. 2, ch.  102, SLA 2008; and  providing for                                                               
an effective date."                                                                                                             
1:05:03 PM                                                                                                                    
JEANNE OSTNES, Staff, Representative  Craig Johnson, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  introduced  HB  97   on  behalf  of  Representative                                                               
Johnson, sponsor.   She explained that the bill  would delete the                                                               
sunset  clause for  a two-year-old  position [Invasive  Weeds and                                                               
Agricultural Pest  Coordinator] in  the Division  of Agriculture,                                                               
Department of  Natural Resources.   She  directed attention  to a                                                               
document in  the committee  packet outlining  the accomplishments                                                               
of this  position, specifically pointing  out that the  person in                                                               
this  position successfully  applied for  grants that  brought in                                                               
funds  in  addition  to  those  provided by  the  state  for  the                                                               
position.   The two-year position  was established by  House Bill                                                               
330, which  provided $80,000 for  the position's paycheck  to put                                                               
together a plan for the state.                                                                                                  
MS.  OSTNES pointed  out that  Alaska does  not have  much policy                                                               
dealing with  invasive weeds.   One project of this  position was                                                               
to bring together a state  plan, which is almost complete because                                                               
all of the  public comment has happened.  The  letters of support                                                               
received by committee members are  from many of the organizations                                                               
that deal  with the land  and people  around Alaska, such  as the                                                               
soil and  water conservation districts  and the  Alaska Committee                                                               
on Noxious  and Invasive Plant  Management (CNIPM).  A  number of                                                               
people volunteer  with these  organizations to  try to  deal with                                                               
weeds in each  of their specific areas.  She  drew attention to a                                                               
graph  showing the  timeline between  an  invasive species  first                                                               
occurrence  in an  area and  when it  goes into  its high  growth                                                               
period.   She  related that  most experts  say Alaska  is at  the                                                               
bottom of  the depicted  S-curve and  ready to  go into  the high                                                               
growth period.                                                                                                                  
1:08:29 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. OSTNES noted  that a huge spurt in  dandelions, white clover,                                                               
and hairy  vetch occurred this  last summer.  This  position will                                                               
bring together the people around  the state dealing with weeds as                                                               
they appear and  begin to cause problems.  For  example, an award                                                               
was given to  a U.S. Coast Guard employee in  Ketchikan who found                                                               
a gypsy  moth egg mass at  the top of  a conning tower of  a ship                                                               
that came  in from  Japan.   She warned  that gypsy  moths coming                                                               
into  the   Tongass  National  Forest  would   definitely  be  an                                                               
agricultural pest.                                                                                                              
MS. OSTNESS  said one example  of something the state  must begin                                                               
worrying  about is  the Anchor  River where  an invasion  of reed                                                               
canary grass has  grown so much that now nothing  can be done and                                                               
therefore smaller infestations must  instead be dealt with first.                                                               
This position  prioritizes, discusses  policy, and tries  to save                                                               
the state  from spending a  lot of money.   For example,  in 2007                                                               
the  governor of  Idaho  requested $6  million  to fight  noxious                                                               
weeds  in that  state;  $4  million to  deal  just with  Eurasian                                                               
watermilfoil.   She reminded members  that Idaho is a  state much                                                               
smaller  state  than  Alaska  with  much  less  water.    Because                                                               
invasives  can  be such  a  costly  problem, this  position  will                                                               
hopefully  save  Alaska millions  by  trying  to employ  a  rapid                                                               
response against those species that have invaded the state.                                                                     
1:10:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  observed that  the  fiscal  note is  now                                                               
[$101,100 annually] and asked why the difference.                                                                               
MS.  OSTNES  replied that  this  includes  travel, supplies,  and                                                               
contracts, such as for surveying areas.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE DICK commented that he  has heard nothing but good                                                               
about  this program,  but he  has also  heard that  much of  this                                                               
success is due to the  dedication of the person currently holding                                                               
the job.   He expressed his concern that if  the sunset provision                                                               
is  removed, a  new person  with  less diligence  might be  hired                                                               
sometime in the future.                                                                                                         
MS. OSTNES responded  that the person in this position  must be a                                                               
good coordinator.  While she  does not know what the department's                                                               
job description is  for the position, she said she  is sure there                                                               
would be  a full vetting  process should the  current coordinator                                                               
decide to leave.   She also offered her belief  that the position                                                               
requires applicants to be Alaska residents.                                                                                     
1:12:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DICK cautioned  that if government is  going to be                                                               
grown, it  must be done with  a specific purpose and  intent.  He                                                               
expressed his  fear that in  10 years there  may not be  the same                                                               
diligence, focus, and energy as there has been so far.                                                                          
MS.  OSTNES  related  that  from   her  talks  with  the  various                                                               
organizations and  soil and  water conservation  districts around                                                               
the state  that they could not  have done the $1  million of work                                                               
without this coordinator.  The state  must at some point begin to                                                               
make policy  decisions and this  will not happen  without someone                                                               
in this  job.  In  the long  run, she advised,  spending $100,000                                                               
now will save millions later.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ offered  her support for the  bill and asked                                                               
whether  the costs  for [weed  management] projects  initiated by                                                               
the coordinator  are funded at the  local level.  In  response to                                                               
Ms.  Ostnes and  Co-Chair Feige,  Representative Munoz  agreed to                                                               
ask  this question  of the  coordinator, Gino  Graziano, when  he                                                               
1:15:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FEIGE opened public testimony on HB 97.                                                                                
DAVID  LENDRUM, Owner,  Landscape Alaska,  noted that  he is  the                                                               
fifth generation  of an agriculture  family and that  in addition                                                               
to  his nursery  and  landscape contracting  business  he is  the                                                               
landscape superintendent for the  University of Alaska Southeast.                                                               
He confessed that when Mr. Graziano  first visited him he was not                                                               
enthused because  he was sure he  would be told that  some of the                                                               
plants he  was selling  and planting would  be on  the prohibited                                                               
list.  However, he is now  a wholehearted convert.  Over the past                                                               
two  years he  has  worked  with people  from  the Committee  for                                                               
Noxious and Invasive Plant Management  (CNIPM) and has found that                                                               
their expertise and the size of  the problem are much larger than                                                               
he  ever  imagined.    As Alaska's  climate  changes,  the  plant                                                               
materials change,  and the plants  moving into the state  now are                                                               
causing much more trouble than they would have 100 years ago.                                                                   
1:17:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. LENDRUM explained that the  biology of invasive species gives                                                               
them  certain advantages,  such  as starting  earlier or  lasting                                                               
longer  in  the  season  or   occupying  niches  that  would  not                                                               
otherwise be  occupied by  something else.   Several  species are                                                               
already nearly  out of control;  for example, sweet  white clover                                                               
is displacing everything  along rivers in the  Fairbanks area and                                                               
is waist  to chest high  as far  as the eye  can see.   Alaska is                                                               
still in a  pretty good position, he  continued, because invasive                                                               
plants must  follow a highway  system, too,  in that they  need a                                                               
way  to  be introduced  and  therefore  much  of Alaska  has  had                                                               
virtually no introduction.   However, those areas  that are prone                                                               
to infestation  are vulnerable.   While the  coordinator position                                                               
addresses  invasive  plants,   CNIPM  addresses  invasive  plant,                                                               
marine, and insect species.                                                                                                     
1:19:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. LENDRUM  related that  at a conference  last year  he learned                                                               
that invasive underwater plants that  have never before been seen                                                               
in Alaska  are spreading  in the state's  harbor areas  and there                                                               
are no  control measures.   These types  of things are  what need                                                               
work  and  prohibition,  he advised.    Regarding  Representative                                                               
Dick's questions,  he said he  has been overwhelmed by  the depth                                                               
of  dedication not  just from  Mr. Graziano,  but throughout  the                                                               
whole [CNIPM]  organization.  The  people involved have  taken it                                                               
up with  a fervor  that is not  normally seen.   It has  become a                                                               
calling for  many of these  people who  are from all  age groups,                                                               
economic standards, and lifestyles, and he is impressed.                                                                        
1:20:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  commented  that   some  of  this  sounds                                                               
terrifying and asked what chance does the state have.                                                                           
MR. LENDRUM replied  that this is the only thing;  the state must                                                               
get  going now.   He  grew  up in  California where  most of  the                                                               
native habitat  has been overcome  by European invaders;  most of                                                               
the  plants now  seen  in California's  wild  landscape are  non-                                                               
natives that have taken the place  of the species that were there                                                               
before.  He allowed  there are  some invaders  that might  not be                                                               
stopped,  but  advised  that  the  focus needs  to  be  on  early                                                               
detection and  rapid response to  the first invaders  while their                                                               
numbers are small.                                                                                                              
1:21:59 PM                                                                                                                    
FRANCI  HAVEMEISTER,   Director,  Central  Office,   Division  of                                                               
Agriculture, Department  of Natural Resources (DNR),  said she is                                                               
present  to  answer questions,  but  noted  that this  successful                                                               
program has  been housed within  the Division of  Agriculture for                                                               
just under three years.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  inquired   why  control  of  underwater                                                               
invasive plants is not done under the Division of Agriculture.                                                                  
MS. HAVEMEISTER deferred to Mr. Graziano.                                                                                       
GINO GRAZIANO,  Natural Resource Specialist, [Invasive  Weeds and                                                               
Agricultural   Pest   Coordinator],  Division   of   Agriculture,                                                               
Department of  Natural Resources (DNR), replied  that determining                                                               
whether management of submerged  aquatic invasive species belongs                                                               
to the Division  of Agriculture or the Alaska  Department of Fish                                                               
& Game is ongoing.   Within DNR he has not  yet heard an attorney                                                               
general's opinion, but  he has heard some folks  mention that DNR                                                               
manages the substrate of a river  bed and therefore it would fall                                                               
to the Division of Agriculture  working with lands.  Others point                                                               
out  that  the  harvest  of  seaweed is  managed  by  the  Alaska                                                               
Department of  Fish &  Game and  therefore management  of aquatic                                                               
invasives  is the  purview of  ADF&G.   Beyond that,  the general                                                               
consensus that he gets is that it is probably a DNR issue.                                                                      
1:24:13 PM                                                                                                                    
JANICE  CHUMLEY,  Cooperative  Extension Service,  University  of                                                               
Alaska  Fairbanks, informed  members  that  throughout the  years                                                               
when invasive plants  in the state were being noted  as a growing                                                               
menace to Alaska's wildlife  habitat, fisheries, and agriculture,                                                               
the  one  sticking point  was  that  there  was no  point  person                                                               
through the  Division of Agriculture  to coordinate all  of those                                                               
activities  and, therefore,  efforts were  splintered.   She said                                                               
she  supports continuation  of this  position, regardless  of who                                                               
might hold  it in  the future,  because it  is important  to have                                                               
someone  coordinating  statewide  efforts  for  addressing  these                                                               
invasive species.    Without one person  coordinating things, all                                                               
the efforts will be splintered  and nothing will proceed.  Alaska                                                               
still  has  the ability  to  contain  or  eradicate some  of  the                                                               
invasive species within  the state and efforts really  need to be                                                               
taken to make that happen.                                                                                                      
1:25:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  asked how a specific  project is identified                                                               
and what is involved in coordinating with communities.                                                                          
MR. GRAZIANO  responded that  typically a  community will  form a                                                               
cooperative  weed  management  area  (CWMA),  getting  interested                                                               
organizations  and  individuals   involved  in  invasive  species                                                               
management and  bringing to the  table the Department  of Natural                                                               
Resources, Department of Transportation  & Public Facilities, and                                                               
federal and  municipal land  managers.  He  helps the  groups get                                                               
organized, identify projects, and  find funding for the projects.                                                               
For  example, Fairbanks  has a  cooperative weed  management area                                                               
led by  the soil  and water  conservation district.   One  of the                                                               
area's members found the common  waterweed, Elodea canadensis, so                                                               
he  joined  their  meetings  to start  addressing  the  weed  and                                                               
develop strategies  for finding  funds to  do more  surveying and                                                               
management of that weed.                                                                                                        
1:27:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ  inquired  whether  Juneau's  problem  with                                                               
Japanese knotweed has been brought to Mr. Graziano's attention.                                                                 
MR. GRAZIANO  answered yes; he  has been working with  the Juneau                                                               
management area  through the Juneau  Watershed Partnership.   The                                                               
partnership has been doing what it  can by removing the weed, but                                                               
Japanese  knotweed  is a  very  entrenched  species in  Southeast                                                               
Alaska.   Additionally, he has  had a lot of  correspondence with                                                               
the   Department   of   Transportation   &   Public   Facilities,                                                               
particularly when  the department is doing  construction projects                                                               
in areas that  have Japanese knotweed, in which  case he consults                                                               
with them on how to deal with it.                                                                                               
1:29:05 PM                                                                                                                    
BRYCE  WRIGLEY,  Farmer, testified  that  he  raises about  1,000                                                               
acres  per year  of barley  and  wheat.   Over the  years he  has                                                               
watched  invasive weeds  move  into the  state  that represent  a                                                               
direct threat  to his  ability to provide  a sellable  product in                                                               
the  Alaska market.   After  Canada thistle  was discovered  in a                                                               
local  field, the  Cooperative Extension  Service  and the  Delta                                                               
Farm Bureau  coordinated an effort  to eradicate the  weed before                                                               
it  could  spread.    Later,  the  soil  and  water  conservation                                                               
district took  over the  noxious weed  effort in  this area.   It                                                               
took  18 years  to eradicate  that  patch of  Canada thistle  and                                                               
there has not been any in the area for the past 13 years.                                                                       
MR. WRIGLEY  expressed his concern  as a producer that  Alaska is                                                               
doing  too little  to address  this problem  while it  is in  its                                                               
infancy.   Once this  window of  opportunity for  controlling the                                                               
spread  of invasive  plants closes,  it  will never  again be  as                                                               
cheap or as easy  to address the problem as it is  right now.  It                                                               
is his  opinion that  the solution is  a long-term  commitment by                                                               
the  state to  manage invasive  species, beginning  with a  point                                                               
man,  and HB  97  addresses the  sunset of  this  position.   The                                                               
purpose of House Bill 330 was  to hire a coordinator to develop a                                                               
statewide  weed plan,  which  is necessary  to  bring in  federal                                                               
dollars for  weed management in Alaska.   He drew attention  to a                                                               
report by  Mr. Graziano  that states a  federal grant  of $80,000                                                               
had to be returned because there  were no matching funds for that                                                               
grant.  If the  state does not pay to address  this issue now, it                                                               
will most definitely be paying for it later, he advised.                                                                        
MR. WRIGLEY  suggested that  in addition  to removing  the sunset                                                               
for the coordinator's position, the  committee also include in HB                                                               
97 a  mechanism to match  federal dollars so that  the investment                                                               
by  the  state can  be  maximized.    Without an  effective  weed                                                               
management plan  for the state,  the cost to Alaska  farmers will                                                               
continue  to increase  and the  cost to  the state  will increase                                                               
exponentially.  More  needs to be done in Alaska  to address this                                                               
problem.   He urged  that the  coordinator's position  be funded,                                                               
the  sunset   clause  removed,  and  a   mechanism  provided  for                                                               
utilizing federal grants.                                                                                                       
1:32:31 PM                                                                                                                    
LORI  ZAUMSEIL informed  members that  she and  her husband  Troy                                                               
were the  people who found  a Canada  thistle growing in  a plant                                                               
that  they had  purchased from  a local  box store.   They  began                                                               
investigating  this,  and  with   the  help  of  the  Cooperative                                                               
Extension Service  learned just  how noxious and  invasive Canada                                                               
thistle is.   When no  satisfactory response came from  the store                                                               
as far up as its corporate  level, they contacted the Division of                                                               
Agriculture only  to find  that there  was no  one to  take their                                                               
report  about something  so serious  and  they were  subsequently                                                               
passed  all the  way to  the  division's director.   She  further                                                               
found that in Anchorage, all of  the federal agencies in the U.S.                                                               
Department of  Interior had a  person working on this  issue, but                                                               
the State of Alaska had no  one and the Municipality of Anchorage                                                               
had no  one.   Even to  an amateur it  was obvious  that multiple                                                               
people  spinning   in  individual   orbits  were  not   going  to                                                               
accomplish anything positive  enough to handle this  problem.  So                                                               
creating a  position to advocate  for the State of  Alaska seemed                                                               
like an incredibly important thing to  do to bring the state into                                                               
the battle so it was not just a battlefield to be overrun.                                                                      
1:34:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. ZAUMSEIL  related that when Representative  Johnson responded                                                               
to her and Troy in 2007,  they committed to doing everything they                                                               
could  to  make  their  fellow   property  owners  and  taxpayers                                                               
understand that spending  $1 now would save $100 later.   This is                                                               
an issue  that will grow  exponentially and is growing  even with                                                               
effort.  If  momentum is lost from losing this  position, it will                                                               
be so  costly to  everybody in Alaska,  from salmon  fishermen to                                                               
property owners to farmers.  As  a result of their involvement in                                                               
Alaska, she  and Troy  have been  invited to  speak all  over the                                                               
country and they have found that  all eyes are on Alaska.  People                                                               
in other states  with budgets of tens of millions  of dollars and                                                               
with  agricultural losses  in the  tens of  millions of  dollars,                                                               
have  told her  that Alaska  is where  their state  was 20  or 30                                                               
years ago  and they  wish they  had not waited  to deal  with the                                                               
problem.    She  understands  Representative  Gardner's  position                                                               
about being  terrified because that  is exactly how she  and Troy                                                               
felt.  She  urged the continuation of  the coordinator's position                                                               
because it is important and matters on so many levels.                                                                          
1:36:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  commented  that  she would  not  know  a                                                               
Canada  thistle   and  would  therefore  not   be  alarmed  about                                                               
something growing in a plant pot.                                                                                               
MS. ZAUMSEIL  answered that  she and Troy  came across  a pocket-                                                               
sized weed  guide that  talked about  invasive plants  in Alaska,                                                               
which  was a  totally foreign  concept  to them.   However,  they                                                               
paged  through the  guide anyway.   A  month later  they found  a                                                               
Canada  thistle growing  in their  backyard  in Anchorage,  which                                                               
heightened  their awareness.   The  next spring  while purchasing                                                               
garden starts  at a retail  box store  in Anchorage they  found a                                                               
Canada thistle growing  in a pot.  They had  an inkling that this                                                               
was  a  bad  thing,  so  to  be  certain  they  took  it  to  the                                                               
Cooperative Extension  Service to have  it identified.   She then                                                               
"googled" it  on the Internet  and in  30 minutes she  was pretty                                                               
mad and in 60 minutes she was an activist.                                                                                      
1:38:26 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. ZAUMSEIL  addressed what local  citizens can do,  noting that                                                               
she and  her husband  have no science  background and  hold full-                                                               
time jobs.   However, because they recognized  the seriousness of                                                               
this,  they   created  their   own  nonprofit   Cooperative  Weed                                                               
Management Area (CWMA) in Anchorage,  and dedicated a lot of time                                                               
for about  three years.  A  concerned citizen with a  voice and a                                                               
passion  can  really  accomplish something  and  this  particular                                                               
issue  is a  good example  of that.   She  informed members  that                                                               
federal legislation  was introduced  by U.S. Senator  Harry Reid,                                                               
and at her  and Troy's request this  legislation was co-sponsored                                                               
by Senators  Begich and Murkowski.   They also  asked Congressman                                                               
Don Young  to introduce a  companion bill,  which he did  the day                                                               
after Senator Reid's bill was  introduced.  This demonstrates how                                                               
much impact a citizen can have on the process.                                                                                  
1:40:30 PM                                                                                                                    
BLAINE  SPELLMAN, Alaska  Association of  Conservation Districts,                                                               
said his organization wrote a letter  of support for HB 97 and he                                                               
is  willing to  answer any  questions about  how the  Division of                                                               
Agriculture's  program  has  benefitted his  group's  efforts  in                                                               
managing invasive plants around the state.                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR FEIGE asked Mr. Blaine  Spellman about how effective the                                                               
coordinator position has been in terms of actual coordination.                                                                  
MR.  SPELLMAN  replied  that  the  soil  and  water  conservation                                                               
districts  have been  managing invasive  plants for  a very  long                                                               
time and,  as pointed out  by Ms.  Chumley, it was  oftentimes an                                                               
uncoordinated  effort   done  by   various  groups   in  complete                                                               
isolation of  one another.   Having a state coordinator  has been                                                               
exceptionally   important  because   it  has   unified  all   the                                                               
nonprofits  and the  soil and  water conservation  districts into                                                               
one  team working  with the  state.   He said  he feels  that the                                                               
position  and the  strategic plan  developed by  the Division  of                                                               
Agriculture have been very valuable.                                                                                            
1:42:25 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 1:42 p.m. to 1:43 p.m.                                                                       
1:43:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   FEIGE  closed   public  testimony   on  HB   97  after                                                               
ascertaining that no one else wished to testify.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON  commented that  Dave Cannon, a  local area                                                               
coordinator,  gave him  a presentation  on this  issue and  it is                                                               
surprising how much  is unknown about invasive  species.  Pretty,                                                               
non-native flowers  that people want  to grow can  be disastrous.                                                               
The  legislature needs  to think  about creating  an Alaska  seed                                                               
bank or creating  more of a seed bank, like  the global seed bank                                                               
in Norway, and should consider a  seed vault so that native plant                                                               
species can be saved for the future.                                                                                            
1:45:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  SEATON moved  to report  HB  97 out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There  being no  objection, HB  97  was reported  from the  House                                                               
Resources Standing Committee.                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HRES 3.7.11 HB 97 Extend Invasive Plants Law.PDF HRES 3/7/2011 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 4/16/2011 10:00:00 AM
HB 97
HRES 3.7.11 HB 106 Coastal Management Program.PDF HRES 3/7/2011 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/16/2011 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/18/2011 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/28/2011 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 106
ACMP Final Evaluation June 2008.pdf HRES 3/7/2011 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3.7.11 DNR Response to Rep. Foster-Herron Letter.PDF HRES 3/7/2011 1:00:00 PM
LB&A ACMP Audit Report Part 1.pdf HRES 3/7/2011 1:00:00 PM
LB&A ACMP Audit Report Part 2.pdf HRES 3/7/2011 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3.7.11 HB97 Perception of an Invasive Species.PDF HRES 3/7/2011 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 4/16/2011 10:00:00 AM
HB 97
HRES 3.7.11 HB97 Report on AK Invasive Plant Project.pdf HRES 3/7/2011 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 4/16/2011 10:00:00 AM
HB 97