Legislature(2011 - 2012)BARNES 124

03/11/2011 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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Heard & Held
- Presentation of LB&A Audit by Pat Davidson
Moved Out of Committee
                 HB 105-SOUTHEAST STATE FOREST                                                                              
1:19:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  FEIGE announced  that the  first order  of business  is                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  105, "An  Act  relating to  the Southeast  State                                                               
Forest; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                   
1:19:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P.   WILSON  moved   that  the   committee  adopt                                                               
Amendment 1, labeled 27-GH1694\A.1, Bullock, 3/8/11, which read:                                                                
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CO-CHAIR SEATON objected.                                                                                                       
1:20:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  related  that although  Rowan Bay  and                                                               
Hook Arm  aren't in her  district, she  has been told  that there                                                               
are prehistoric heritage  sites in these areas,  as documented by                                                               
the Alaska  Heritage Research  Survey.  The  two areas  also have                                                               
pink salmon streams,  karst, and cave resources.   Therefore, she                                                               
expressed the need to carve out both the parcels.                                                                               
1:21:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI inquired  as to  how those  parcels were                                                               
originally  selected  for  inclusion  in  the  state  forest  and                                                               
whether DNR would object to their removal.                                                                                      
1:21:49 PM                                                                                                                    
RICK  ROGERS, Forest  Resource Program  Manager, Central  Office,                                                               
Division of Forestry, Department  of Natural Resources, explained                                                               
that the parcels  were selected for their  timber resource values                                                               
and because both  the Central Southeast Area Plan  and the Prince                                                               
of  Wales Area  Plan for  Rowan Bay  and Hook  Arm, respectively,                                                               
designate those lands  in the general use category.   The general                                                               
use  designation  means  the  parcels are  part  of  the  state's                                                               
managed  timber base.    He noted  that  both the  aforementioned                                                               
plans acknowledge  the anadromous fish habitat  fish resources on                                                               
the parcels as well as  the heritage resources.  Furthermore, the                                                               
Forest Resources  & Practices Act acknowledges  those and provide                                                               
very generous riparian  set asides per statute.     Specifically,                                                               
a  100-foot buffer  is required  on each  side of  the anadromous                                                               
streams.   With  regard  to the  heritage  resources, Mr.  Rogers                                                               
informed  the committee  that prior  to a  timber sale,  a forest                                                               
land  use plan  is  prepared, which  supports  the best  interest                                                               
findings  to   proceed  with  the   timber  sale.     During  the                                                               
aforementioned process, the  State's Historic Preservation Office                                                               
(SHPO), Division of Parks, is  contacted.  Mr. Rogers opined that                                                               
DNR can  accommodate the heritage  resources and would  adapt the                                                               
plans  accordingly.    Mr. Rogers  informed  the  committee  that                                                               
typically the area  plans in Southeast Alaska  require a 500-foot                                                               
coastal buffer  as well.   The  department's past  experience has                                                               
been that most  heritage sites are within that  buffer, as that's                                                               
primarily where  people settled.   However, it was noted  that if                                                               
[the  heritage  site  isn't  located   in  the  coastal  buffer],                                                               
additional conditions  would be  placed on the  timber sale.   He                                                               
highlighted that  the statute for establishing  state forest also                                                               
requires a state  forest management plan, which would  need to be                                                               
prepared  within three  years  of the  passage of  HB  105.   The                                                               
aforementioned would  allow review  of any multiple  use resource                                                               
issues that might be involved for  the two parcels in question or                                                               
any  of the  parcels  in the  package.   In  further response  to                                                               
Representative Kawasaki,  Mr. Rogers  stated that  the department                                                               
would object  to the  removal of  these parcels.   This  has been                                                               
vetted  internally  with the  Office  of  the Governor,  multiple                                                               
agencies within DNR,  as well as the Alaska Department  of Fish &                                                               
Game (ADF&G). He  concluded that DNR wants to forward  HB 105, as                                                               
1:25:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  surmised  that DNR  took these  things                                                               
into consideration and there is  another chance for concerns with                                                               
regard  to  the areas  in  questions  to  be discussed  by  those                                                               
concerned in the areas.                                                                                                         
MR.  ROGERS replied  yes,  adding  that there  is  more than  one                                                               
chance.  He  explained that the first opportunity  to address the                                                               
parcels would be in the  state forest management planning process                                                               
and  the second  opportunity would  be during  any of  the timber                                                               
sales through the  Forest Land Use Plan, which  performs a public                                                               
review and  comment period  prior to a  best interest  finding is                                                               
approved for  a sale.   In further response to  Representative P.                                                               
Wilson, Mr. Rogers  related his understanding that  there's a 45-                                                               
day review for each.  He  noted that there are also processes for                                                               
reconsiderations and appeals.  He  characterized it as the normal                                                               
regulatory process  that DNR uses  for public involvement  in its                                                               
best interest decisions for disposal.                                                                                           
1:27:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR SEATON related his understanding  that these lands could                                                               
be [available],  right now, for timber  sales.  If a  timber sale                                                               
was conducted  now and if the  land was in the  state forest, the                                                               
management  plan would  have  to  be present  and  have the  same                                                               
process and restrictions.   However, the difference  with land in                                                               
the  state   forest  is  that  DNR   could  anticipate  long-term                                                               
stability that  would allow for  pre-harvest thinning  to improve                                                               
the productivity of the [second growth]  forest.  He asked if the                                                               
aforementioned is  the only  difference.   "If these  [lands] are                                                               
out, there  could still  be a  timber sale on  the land  with the                                                               
same kind of requirements; is that correct," he asked.                                                                          
MR. ROGERS answered that is correct.                                                                                            
1:29:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON withdrew Amendment 1.                                                                                  
1:29:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  informed  the  committee  that  she  had                                                               
intended to offer  this amendment, but did not  have one prepared                                                               
after  learning that  Representative P.  Wilson was  offering the                                                               
same amendment.  She then announced  that she wanted to offer the                                                               
same amendment [ultimately labeled Amendment 2] in her name.                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   FEIGE  reminded   Representative   Gardner  that   the                                                               
committee's policy  is that  amendments must  be provided  to the                                                               
committee 24 hours prior to being offered.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said that  Amendment 1 met the committee's                                                               
policy  regarding  the  submission   of  amendments.    She  then                                                               
maintained that she has a right  under the Uniform Rules to offer                                                               
an amendment.                                                                                                                   
1:29:55 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
1:30:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER acknowledged that  the original sponsor of                                                               
Amendment 2  has some ambivalence  about it, but stated  that she                                                               
does  not  as  there  are  important elements  that  need  to  be                                                               
protected.    In  particular,  the   Alaska  heritage  sites  are                                                               
irreplaceable.   Representative Gardner  pointed out that  HB 105                                                               
doubles the amount of the state  forest land and she supports it,                                                               
and eliminating  the two heritage  sites totals only  3.4 percent                                                               
of the overall state forest lands.                                                                                              
1:31:21 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON remarked that  she is torn  because the                                                               
state  is  trying  to  keep   the  timber  industry  together  in                                                               
Southeast  Alaska.   She related  that she  had legislation  that                                                               
will  impact  less  than  1  percent of  all  of  the  timber  in                                                               
Southeast Alaska, which  doesn't seem to be very  much.  However,                                                               
the forest industry related to her  that they have only been able                                                               
to cut  less than 2  percent of  the timber in  Southeast Alaska.                                                               
Given that  the same  rules will apply  to these  parcels whether                                                               
they are  included in  the state  forest or  not, she  decided to                                                               
withdraw  Amendment 1.    Furthermore, if  the  entire parcel  is                                                               
taken out [of the state forest,  the amount of possible timber is                                                               
reduced.   If  these parcels  with heritage  sites remain  in the                                                               
state forest,  she opined that  portions of the parcels  could be                                                               
set aside through the process rather  than the entire parcel.  In                                                               
conclusion,  Representative  P.  Wilson   said  she  will  oppose                                                               
Amendment 2.                                                                                                                    
1:34:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  SEATON pointed  out that  excluding these  parcels from                                                               
the state  forest doesn't  provide a  higher level  of protection                                                               
for them.   In fact, he opined that excluding  these parcels from                                                               
the  state forest  would result  in a  lower level  of protection                                                               
because  the  timber  harvest  plan   won't  be  required  to  be                                                               
developed in  the same way in  which it is for  the state forest.                                                               
Furthermore,  all the  sites will  be protected  adequately under                                                               
the state forest  designation unlike if the sites  have a general                                                               
use  status, which  could  allow  the lands  to  go through  land                                                               
disposals or other processes.   Therefore, he opined that placing                                                               
the parcels  in the state  forest will provide  greater long-term                                                               
protection  status,  and  thus he  announced  his  opposition  to                                                               
Amendment 2.                                                                                                                    
1:35:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  asked if  that's the perspective  of DNR                                                               
as well.                                                                                                                        
MR. ROGERS stated that Co-Chair  Seaton's description is accurate                                                               
in  that the  parcels will  have long-term  protection under  the                                                               
state forest designation versus the  general use designation.  He                                                               
noted that the  area planning process, which is  a lengthy public                                                               
process with  the opportunity for  public input and  appeals, has                                                               
already taken  place.   He then  pointed out  that the  area plan                                                               
language  addressing both  the  Hook Arm  and  Rowan Bay  parcels                                                               
addresses heritage  resources in the  plan.  Furthermore,  DNR is                                                               
clearly given  direction to  protect those  areas.   Although the                                                               
planning document  won't have  the level  of detail  necessary to                                                               
make  the   site  specific  decisions,  typically   much  of  the                                                               
information is housed at SHPO.   In fact, much of the information                                                               
is  kept  confidential in  order  to  prevent looting  and  other                                                               
problems  with  heritage  sites.    Mr.  Rogers  reiterated  that                                                               
whether the  parcels are  in the  state forest  or not,  DNR will                                                               
consult  with  SHPO  to  provide   adequate  protection  for  the                                                               
heritage sites.                                                                                                                 
1:38:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER surmised that  if these two parcels remain                                                               
in the state  forest, they would be managed  primarily for timber                                                               
production.  Therefore,  she further surmised that  it would then                                                               
be  more  difficult  to  define   the  parcels  for  a  different                                                               
management designation.                                                                                                         
MR.  ROGERS opined  that it  wouldn't  be any  more difficult  to                                                               
protect  the heritage  resources on  these parcels  if they  were                                                               
included  in  the  state  forest.   Although  he  confirmed  that                                                               
Representative Gardner  is correct that the  guiding language for                                                               
the  state forest  places some  emphasis  on forestry  resources,                                                               
it's  still   multiple  use  management.     Furthermore,  to  be                                                               
consistent  with   state  and  federal  statute   and  regulation                                                               
heritage resources must be protected.   The mechanisms and office                                                               
in DNR are present to help  meet that objective.  Mr. Rogers then                                                               
highlighted that  the state forest  designation helps  because it                                                               
keeps the land in state  ownership, whereas under the general use                                                               
land  designation  the parcels  may  or  may  not stay  in  state                                                               
1:40:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER inquired as  to the designation that would                                                               
provide  these  historic  sites   the  greatest  protection  from                                                               
destruction or damage.                                                                                                          
1:40:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MARTY  PARSONS, Deputy  Director,  Division of  Mining, Land  and                                                               
Water,  Department  of  Natural   Resources,  answered  that  the                                                               
designations that  maintain those  lands in state  ownership will                                                               
provide  the greatest  protection of  those historic  sites.   No                                                               
particular  designation  would  save  a  historic  resource,  but                                                               
placing it  into a state forest  would keep such land  from being                                                               
conveyed to  out-of-state ownership.   He reminded  the committee                                                               
that  these historic  sites are  usually  one to  two acre  sites                                                               
within  a 1,500-1,600  acre parcel,  and thus  it's a  very small                                                               
percentage of the parcel.  The  Division of Forestry will be held                                                               
to a fairly  high standard for those areas, which  they will also                                                               
have to  protect as  part of  the planning  process.   In further                                                               
response to  Representative Gardner, Mr. Parsons  reiterated that                                                               
placing  the parcels  in the  state  forest would  result in  the                                                               
lands  remaining  in state  ownership  and  provide the  historic                                                               
sites the most protection.                                                                                                      
1:42:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  asked if the  most protection is  what HB                                                               
105, as written, accomplishes.                                                                                                  
MR. PARSONS replied yes.                                                                                                        
1:42:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER withdrew Amendment 2.                                                                                    
1:43:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DICK recalled  testimony that  objected to  large                                                               
scale logging  in an area  because of  the belief that  there was                                                               
enough  small business  in the  area  and performing  value-added                                                               
activities would be best for the community.                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  SEATON pointed  out  that leaving  parcels  out of  the                                                               
state forest doesn't  mean there would be no timber  sale [on the                                                               
parcels].    Placing  parcels  in the  state  forest  results  in                                                               
parcels being  on a  longer term  rotation status  for management                                                               
1:45:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  SEATON moved  to report  HB 105  out of  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  zero  fiscal                                                               
note.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                             
1:46:21 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 1:46 p.m. to 1:49 p.m.                                                                       

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