Legislature(2011 - 2012)BARNES 124

03/02/2012 01:00 PM House RESOURCES

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01:10:38 PM Start
01:10:56 PM HB340
02:07:23 PM Confirmation Hearings(s):|| Big Game Commercial Services Board|| Fishermen's Fund Advisory & Appeals Council
02:25:39 PM Board of Game
02:55:44 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Confirmation Hearings: TELECONFERENCED
Big Game Commercial Services Board
Board of Game
Fishermen's Fund Advisory & Appeals Council
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          HB 340-PETERSVILLE RECREATIONAL MINING AREA                                                                       
1:10:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FEIGE announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 340,  "An Act  relating to the  reservation of                                                               
certain  mining  claims  from  all  uses  incompatible  with  the                                                               
purposes  for establishing  the  Petersville Recreational  Mining                                                               
1:11:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MARK  NEUMAN,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  prime                                                               
sponsor, introduced  HB 340,  explaining it  is a  "fix-it" bill.                                                               
In  1995  under  the   Hickel  Administration,  his  constituent,                                                               
Michele Stevens, had mining claims  on about 220 acres of federal                                                               
lands.   The State of  Alaska wanted  that land, so  it requested                                                               
Ms.  Stevens to  lift  her mining  claims so  the  land could  be                                                               
transferred  to the  state.   Ms.  Stevens agreed  to  do so  and                                                               
worked with Jules  Tileston, director of the  Division of Mining,                                                               
Land and Water at that time.   Harry Noah was commissioner of the                                                               
Department of  Natural Resources (DNR)  at that time.   The state                                                               
accepted the land and committed  to convey the mining claims back                                                               
to Ms.  Stevens.  However,  Alaska's statutes disallow  this from                                                               
happening  and Ms.  Stevens has  been working  to make  it happen                                                               
since then.   It is a  time sensitive issue, he  pointed out, and                                                               
he  has met  with  Ms.  Stevens, Ed  Fogels,  the current  deputy                                                               
commissioner of DNR, and the  Alaska Miners Association to figure                                                               
out how to get these mining  claims conveyed back to Ms. Stevens.                                                               
He  said the  language in  HB 340  allows the  state to  fix this                                                               
1:13:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  inquired  whether Ms.  Stevens  has  any                                                               
documentation of  the agreement  that the  state would  give back                                                               
the mining claims and then could not.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  replied  yes, Ms.  Stevens  has  multiple                                                               
documents.  Also, there is a  letter in the committee packet from                                                               
Mr. Tileston and Marty Rutherford,  deputy commissioner of DNR at                                                               
the  time that  it  was  DNR's intent  to  transmit these  mining                                                               
claims back to Ms. Stevens.   He explained that a technicality in                                                               
the way  the Alaska statutes are  written needs to be  fixed.  He                                                               
added that he  has personally spoken with Mr.  Tileston about Mr.                                                               
Tileston's desire to make Ms. Stevens whole again.                                                                              
1:15:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI requested  an  explanation  of the  term                                                               
"recreational mining area".                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN deferred to Mr. Fogels.                                                                                   
EDMUND FOGELS,  Deputy Commissioner, Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of   Natural  Resources   (DNR),  responded   that  a                                                               
recreational mining  area is a  legislative designation  by which                                                               
land is  set aside for the  specific purpose of creating  an area                                                               
on which  people can recreate and  mine.  A normal  staked mining                                                               
claim  must be  worked  for mineral  production  in a  commercial                                                               
fashion  and   is  not  designed  for   recreational  or  tourism                                                               
purposes.   However, recreational  mining areas were  designed to                                                               
allow recreational and tourism activity  and are typically closed                                                               
to mineral entry so that normal mining claims cannot be staked.                                                                 
1:17:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  FEIGE surmised  there are  limitations on  the size  of                                                               
equipment that can be used on a recreational mining claim.                                                                      
MR. FOGELS believed there  is not and added that it  is up to the                                                               
legislature to decide how big of an area it wants to create.                                                                    
1:17:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN,  returning to  Representative  Kawasaki's                                                               
question, said he  understood from talking with  Ms. Stevens that                                                               
her intent  was to  be able  to open these  areas so  that people                                                               
could recreationally try to find gold or other minerals.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  asked for further explanation  about the                                                               
purpose of a recreational mining claim.                                                                                         
MR.  FOGELS  answered  that  it  is  not  a  recreational  mining                                                               
"claim", it  is a  recreational mining "area",  which is  an area                                                               
that the legislature creates and  sets the rules for.  Typically,                                                               
some kind of management plan is  required to be in place and then                                                               
DNR has  the ability to go  to bid for concession  for someone to                                                               
operate  a recreational  mining area.   He  pointed out  that the                                                               
Crow Creek Mine  in Girdwood is a private  enterprise rather than                                                               
a state  recreational mining  area, but  it is  the same  kind of                                                               
operation - a  tourist-oriented business that charges  for a gold                                                               
pan and the opportunity to pan for some gold in the creek.                                                                      
1:19:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  inquired about  the differences  in what                                                               
would  be  required  for  a recreational  mining  area  versus  a                                                               
traditional mining claim.                                                                                                       
MR.  FOGELS explained  that for  a traditional  mining claim  the                                                               
state's  mining laws  must  be followed  for  staking the  claim,                                                               
paying annual  rental, working  the claim,  and showing  that the                                                               
claim is being progressed.   Once there is an economic discovery,                                                               
the state's permitting  process must be undergone.   If the state                                                               
issues the  permits, the mine  can be  built and people  hired to                                                               
begin  a  commercial mining  operation  that  pays royalties  and                                                               
taxes.   For a recreational  mining area,  the intent is  to give                                                               
Alaskans and other visitors a place  to go gold panning either on                                                               
their own or through a business  that rents out gold pans for the                                                               
day.  The intent is for  the recreationists to have fun and maybe                                                               
get a few flecks of gold in their pans.                                                                                         
1:21:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR SEATON  drew attention to  the April 9, 2010,  letter to                                                               
Senator  Huggins  in  the  committee  packet  from  Dick  Mylius,                                                               
Director, Division of  Mining, Land and Water.   He observed that                                                               
page  2, paragraph  2,  states that  the area  would  be open  to                                                               
staking and  there would be  no assurance that Ms.  Stevens would                                                               
be able to stake prior to other  people.  He asked whether HB 340                                                               
enacts  what this  letter says  or gets  around that  by ensuring                                                               
that prior claims  continue on through state  ownership and leave                                                               
the rest of the area open for a recreational mining area.                                                                       
MR.  FOGELS  replied that  HB  340  would  remove just  that  one                                                               
portion of  recreational mining area from  the whole recreational                                                               
mining area.   It is  a very  complicated land situation  in that                                                               
area, which is  in part why there is this  problem to begin with.                                                               
The land has  not yet actually been conveyed to  the state; it is                                                               
state selected  land that is  still owned  by the U.S.  Bureau of                                                               
Land Management (BLM).  The  statutes that enact the recreational                                                               
mining area are only valid on  state land.  It hovers above state                                                               
selected land  and will  take effect  as soon  as that  land gets                                                               
conveyed to  the state.   The letter from Director  Mylius points                                                               
out that if  the recreational mining area is  removed there would                                                               
then be no  guarantee that Ms. Stevens would be  the first one to                                                               
stake the claim.  In the  subsequent looking at and picking apart                                                               
of this complex situation, DNR  thinks it may be more complicated                                                               
than that, so the department is  trying to chase that piece down.                                                               
The bottom  line is  that there  is still  no guarantee  that Ms.                                                               
Stevens will be  able to re-stake these claims if  this bill goes                                                               
1:23:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON observed  that the  April 9,  2010, letter                                                               
states there are two  areas - a northern area of  300 acres and a                                                               
southern area of  200 acres.  The letter further  states that the                                                               
northern recreational mining  area has not been used  much due to                                                               
[difficult] access, so the presumption  is that the southern area                                                               
has better  access and would  provide the activity.   He inquired                                                               
whether HB 340 would vacate the entire southern area.                                                                           
MR.  FOGELS  confirmed  that  HB  340  would  vacate  the  entire                                                               
southern area of  220 acres; he noted that the  northern area has                                                               
a lot of  potential.  At some point the  department would next do                                                               
a  management plan  for the  entire area  to determine  a way  to                                                               
provide  for a  concessionaire  in the  southern  area and  focus                                                               
recreational  activity  on  the  northern area  rather  than  the                                                               
southern areas.                                                                                                                 
1:24:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR SEATON asked  why not remove only the  five acres within                                                               
the  southern area  on which  the BLM  is issuing  Ms. Stevens  a                                                               
lease, rather than the entire two hundred acres.                                                                                
MR. FOGELS  believed the mining  claims at issue for  Ms. Stevens                                                               
are more  than five acres.   He deferred  to Mr. Wyn  Menefee for                                                               
further explanation.                                                                                                            
WYN  MENEFEE, Chief  of Operations,  Central Office,  Division of                                                               
Mining, Land  and Water, Department  of Natural  Resources (DNR),                                                               
explained  that  the  original  claims  had  by  Michele  Stevens                                                               
encompassed the entire southern  recreational mining area.  Those                                                               
claims no longer  exist there, so currently there  are no claims.                                                               
The aforementioned five  acres is a portion of the  area that Ms.                                                               
Stevens  is working  out  with the  federal  government to  bring                                                               
under lease  in order  for the  state to  get conveyance  of that                                                               
land because there  are trespass structures that  must be brought                                                               
into compliance before  the state receives the land.   Aside from                                                               
that, currently  there are no  claims that  sit over top  of this                                                               
area  and therefore  there  is  no five-acre  claim  and all  the                                                               
claims have disappeared.                                                                                                        
1:27:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER understood the  reason there are no claims                                                               
[in  this southern  area] is  because Ms.  Stevens gave  up those                                                               
claims in  the understanding  that once the  state had  title she                                                               
would be made whole.                                                                                                            
MR. FOGELS confirmed that that is correct.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER maintained  that it is not  quite right to                                                               
say those claims do not exist  because Ms. Stevens has a standing                                                               
agreement that was never met.                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR FEIGE  replied correct,  but said  the claims  have been                                                               
MR. FOGELS  explained that  Ms. Stevens  voluntarily relinquished                                                               
those claims and by law they extinguish and are no longer there.                                                                
1:27:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  noted that  when Ms.  Stevens voluntarily                                                               
relinquished those claims  there was an agreement  with the state                                                               
that  when the  state  had  title Ms.  Stevens'  claims would  be                                                               
reinstated.   So, she concluded, there  is a moral claim  as well                                                               
as a legal claim.                                                                                                               
CO-CHAIR FEIGE commented that he, too, would be upset.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN responded that that  is exactly what HB 340                                                               
is fixing -  the intent of the  bill is to fix  that promise made                                                               
by the  state to  Ms. Stevens.   The state  promised to  make Ms.                                                               
Stevens  whole  after  that  land  was  conveyed  to  the  state,                                                               
valuable land  that the state wanted.   Ms. Stevens agreed  to do                                                               
so even  though she  did not  have to.   In the  complications of                                                               
conveying  that  back to  her,  there  are  about four  lines  in                                                               
statute that need  to be changed, which is what  HB 340 would do,                                                               
and then the department can convey those claims to her.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER surmised  there  were original  documents                                                               
signed  by  the  state  regarding  the  state's  promise  to  Ms.                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN answered  he has  seen documentation  that                                                               
would fill this room.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  asked whether  the Department of  Law is                                                               
available for questions.                                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR FEIGE  replied no.   He invited  Ms. Stevens  to provide                                                               
1:30:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHELE STEVENS, a  lifelong Alaskan, explained that  in 1995 she                                                               
gifted  approximately  500 acres  of  area  encompassed by  state                                                               
selected  mining  claims  that  she had  acquired.    These  were                                                               
located  as a  result  of previous  federal  mining claims  being                                                               
declared  null and  void  and  were known  as  the "Peters  Creek                                                               
Jacobsen Mining  Property".  She  agreed to gift portions  of her                                                               
state  selected mining  claim, situated  within the  U.S. Mineral                                                               
Survey 2384, to  the State of Alaska with  the express commitment                                                               
by  the state  that once  the federal  land was  conveyed to  the                                                               
state, approximately 220 acres of  the area known as the southern                                                               
Petersville Recreational Mining  Area would be leased  to her for                                                               
the establishment of a  commercial recreational mining concession                                                               
that would  include a museum  and other amenities to  be provided                                                               
by her.  She owns several  historic buildings and a Marion shovel                                                               
that helped  build the Panama  Canal and the Alaska  Railroad and                                                               
was used  for mining at Petersville  in the 1940s.   She also has                                                               
other structures  that are on  the federal mining  claims located                                                               
within the  220 acres.   She said Representative Neuman  has maps                                                               
of  the  area  that  can  be shared  with  the  committee.    The                                                               
agreement she  had with the State  of Alaska to transfer  or gift                                                               
her  state selected  mineral rights  to the  state was  necessary                                                               
because there  was no  other legal  mechanism for  her to  have a                                                               
recreational mining business on state land.                                                                                     
1:31:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. STEVENS  specified that to  ensure the area could  be managed                                                               
in  accordance with  the agreement  with her  and to  ensure that                                                               
other parties could not stake  mining claims in the area, Mineral                                                               
Closing Order 674  was issued on June  2, 1994.  On  May 8, 1997,                                                               
House Bill  46 was signed  into law establishing two  portions of                                                               
recreational  mining area.   The  north Petersville  Recreational                                                               
Mining  Area  is  currently  active  and  the  south  Petersville                                                               
Recreational Mining  Area is not  active.  The two  parcels total                                                               
approximately 500 acres.  It was  the intent of the Department of                                                               
Natural  Resources  that  the  approximately  220  acres  in  the                                                               
southern recreational area would be  leased to her when the state                                                               
received  conveyance from  the  BLM.   Subsequent  to the  claims                                                               
being  gifted  to the  state  and  its  issuance of  the  Mineral                                                               
Closing  Order, the  Department of  Natural Resources  determined                                                               
that  it  could  not,  under  existing  state  law,  establish  a                                                               
noncompetitive  commercial lease  to fulfill  the agreement  with                                                               
her.   However, in  2006, DNR  determined a  legal way  whereby a                                                               
commercial business  could be  operated on a  portion of  a state                                                               
mining claim or  claims by establishing a  miscellaneous land use                                                               
lease,  provided  there was  concurrence  with  the state  mining                                                               
claim holder.  This approach,  however, could not be followed for                                                               
lands designated by statute as a recreational mining area.                                                                      
1:33:49 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  STEVENS said  HB 340  contains  two provisions.   First,  it                                                               
would reinstate her full mineral  rights to those portions of her                                                               
mining  claim  that  encompass the  southern  recreational  area,                                                               
which  can be  seen on  the  map.   Second, it  would remove  the                                                               
statutory  designation  and allow  DNR  to  fulfill its  original                                                               
agreement with her.   She said the State of  Alaska, DNR, and the                                                               
Alaska Miners Association concur that  this is the best mechanism                                                               
to proceed forward.                                                                                                             
MS.  STEVENS, addressing  the statement  that  the mining  claims                                                               
might not go  back to her, explained that a  mining claim located                                                               
on the outside  of a federal area is called  an at-risk claim, so                                                               
it automatically goes back to the  person who has the area on the                                                               
outsides of  that portion.   Since she  has portions  outside the                                                               
proposed  recreation area  that  are active  mining claims,  that                                                               
gives her at-risk  claims.  She suggested that  Mr. Kerwin Krause                                                               
[of DNR] explain this.                                                                                                          
1:35:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  asked  whether   Ms.  Stevens  has  the                                                               
"expressed  commitment" in  writing so  that the  committee could                                                               
see it.                                                                                                                         
MS.  STEVENS replied  she  has some  documents  written by  Jules                                                               
Tileston  expressing that  he was  working with  the public,  Ms.                                                               
Stevens, and the Yetna Mining  District to have this recreational                                                               
area  presented.   She  said  the state  has  a  whole folder  of                                                               
documents and  related that  Mr. Tileston  has been  talking with                                                               
people in the department to let them know what the intent was.                                                                  
CO-CHAIR FEIGE drew  attention to the 1/26/12  letter to Governor                                                               
Parnell from  Jules Tileston and  Marty Rutherford, who  were DNR                                                               
officials involved in the transaction at the time.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI inquired  whether  Ms.  Stevens has  any                                                               
information from 1994 when the "expressed commitment" was made.                                                                 
MS.  STEVENS confirmed  that  some things  were  written down  by                                                               
Jules Tileston, but  said that back then it was  a handshake type                                                               
of  thing   -  in  her   meetings  with  the  DNR   director  and                                                               
commissioner,  everyone   agreed  that  this  would   be  a  good                                                               
situation  for everybody  because  the state  would get  revenue,                                                               
people  would have  a place  to recreate,  and she  could have  a                                                               
concession  with a  museum.   It  was supposed  to  be a  win-win                                                               
situation for everyone.                                                                                                         
1:38:12 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  STEVENS, in  response to  Representative Gardner,  agreed to                                                               
provide a written copy of her testimony.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER said  that  like Representative  Kawasaki                                                               
she  is looking  for some  kind of  documentation.   She inquired                                                               
whether Ms. Stevens received any  other kind of compensation when                                                               
she signed the quit claim or other document at the time.                                                                        
MS. STEVENS  said she did not  receive any money.   The agreement                                                               
with  the state  was that  she would  have a  concession and  the                                                               
public could  come and the  state would receive revenue  from the                                                               
concession.   It was supposed to  be a win-win situation  for the                                                               
state, her,  and the public  because her buildings  and equipment                                                               
are historic and there  was a need and a desire  by the public to                                                               
have a  place to  recreate since  at the time  it was  illegal to                                                               
have recreational mining  on a mining property,  claim, or lease.                                                               
This was a way to let the public have a place to go.                                                                            
1:40:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER   specified  that   in  the   absence  of                                                               
documentation  from the  time, she  wanted  to make  sure on  the                                                               
record that  there was  not some  other compensation  because, if                                                               
not, she would say that Ms.  Stevens was very generous to give up                                                               
her claims to 500 acres for mining.                                                                                             
MS.  STEVENS  thanked  Representative  Gardner  and  replied  she                                                               
thinks the documentation  is quite clear that  Jules Tileston was                                                               
the  director [of  the Division  of Mining,  Land and  Water] and                                                               
Marty Rutherford  was the [deputy]  commissioner [of DNR]  at the                                                               
time, and those  are the people she was working  with at the time                                                               
to have a bill passed.  She  also wrote letters to Lyda Green and                                                               
Rick  Halford to  have the  bill passed.   She  felt the  biggest                                                               
documentation  is what  the committee  has  in front  of it  now,                                                               
which states that this was the intent.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  interjected that  he  has  spoken to  Mr.                                                               
Tileston and others  about the intent and  read the documentation                                                               
presented by  Ms. Stevens.  He  pointed out that the  current DNR                                                               
deputy commissioner has just testified  before the committee that                                                               
that was the intent, and the  letter from the director and deputy                                                               
commissioner  at  the  time  states that  that  was  the  intent.                                                               
Reputable  people are  saying that  this  was the  intent of  the                                                               
state.   There is a  lot of  documentation, he continued,  but he                                                               
was trying not to give the committee  too much paper.  He said HB
340 would simply  make Ms. Stevens whole by  fixing some language                                                               
that would then allow the department to fix the situation.                                                                      
1:42:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI said that because  he was not around when                                                               
House Bill  46 was passed, he  is trying to understand  the issue                                                               
since it is for  a very specific area.  He added  that he is also                                                               
trying  to  ascertain  whether there  could  be  potential  legal                                                               
exposure  from  creating  a  law  that  allows  a  noncompetitive                                                               
commercial lease, as would be done by HB 340.                                                                                   
KERWIN   KRAUSE,  Mineral   Property  Manager,   Central  Office,                                                               
Division  of  Mining,  Land  and  Water,  Department  of  Natural                                                               
Resources  (DNR), stated  that  he thought  Ms.  Stevens had,  or                                                               
would be, providing to the  committee some memorandums from Jules                                                               
Tileston.   Other than  those and  a few emails  in the  file, he                                                               
said he  is unaware of any  letters issued on this  matter by the                                                               
commissioner or  the director.   In response to  Co-Chair Seaton,                                                               
he agreed to provide these documents to the committee.                                                                          
1:45:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER noted  that while the sponsor  has said he                                                               
has  read all  the documentation  presented by  Ms. Stevens,  the                                                               
committee only has a lone letter  written 16 years after the fact                                                               
and  another letter  written  18 years  after the  fact.   It  is                                                               
important  for the  committee to  do due  diligence to  determine                                                               
what the agreement was at the  time.  While she has great respect                                                               
for  Mr. Tileston  and Mr.  Rutherford, it  is important  for the                                                               
committee to look at all documentation that is available.                                                                       
MS. STEVENS  offered to  provide the  committee with  the letters                                                               
she wrote to  Lyda Green and Rick Halford stating  her support of                                                               
House Bill  146 and that the  bill would benefit her  by allowing                                                               
her to have  a concession there.  In response  to Co-Chair Feige,                                                               
she agreed to  fax the letters to the committee.   She added that                                                               
if this  is thought  about logically, she  would not  have gifted                                                               
the mineral  rights back to the  state if the state  had not said                                                               
that it  would let her  have a  concession in return.   Seventeen                                                               
years  ago this  was the  only  way that  a person  could have  a                                                               
concession on mining properties.                                                                                                
1:47:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR SEATON read from page 2  of the 4/9/10 letter to Senator                                                               
Huggins from Dick  Mylius, which states:  "In  addition, there is                                                               
no assurance that  [Michele] Stevens would be the  first to stake                                                               
claims for the law is in  favor of whoever stakes the claim first                                                               
after  the land  becomes open.   It  is likely  that a  number of                                                               
claimants would end  [up] with conflicting claims.   It is likely                                                               
that the Department of Fish and  Game may have concerns about any                                                               
large-scale  mining on  the active  portion of  the Creek."   Co-                                                               
Chair  Seaton inquired  whether the  current bill  gets past  the                                                               
problems pointed out by Mr. Mylius.                                                                                             
MR. FOGELS replied  that HB 340, as currently  written, only gets                                                               
partly  there.   It  would  remove  the legislatively  designated                                                               
area.   The Department  of Natural Resources  would then  have to                                                               
lift the Mineral Closing Order to  make that land available to be                                                               
staked.   What complicates the  matter is  that that land  is not                                                               
yet state  land, it  is state  selected.   The BLM  must actually                                                               
convey that land to the State  of Alaska.  Thus, three key things                                                               
have to happen  before that land can  be staked and have  it be a                                                               
valid  staked claim.   As  mentioned by  Ms. Stevens,  an at-risk                                                               
claim is where a claimant stakes  a state claim on state selected                                                               
land.  It is not yet a real  claim and will never be a real claim                                                               
unless the federal  government actually conveys that  land to the                                                               
state.  If the federal government  never conveys that land to the                                                               
state, then it  will never be a  valid claim, which is  why it is                                                               
called an at-risk  claim.  Ms. Stevens has at-risk  claims on top                                                               
of federal land  that is state selected that  has a legislatively                                                               
designated area  on top of it  and a state Mineral  Closing Order                                                               
on it,  so it is very  complicated.  The department  is trying to                                                               
get  some clarity  from the  Department  of Law,  but if  Michele                                                               
Stevens does indeed  have valid at-risk claims  staked, then once                                                               
all this unravels  and the state finally gets the  land, then Ms.                                                               
Stevens is  likely to have her  claims whole.  He  said he cannot                                                               
at  this  point,  from the  department's  perspective,  tell  the                                                               
committee 100 percent that that is exactly what will happen.                                                                    
1:51:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR SEATON, noting that HB  340 would write a statute, asked                                                               
whether there is  any other way to recognize  the holdover claims                                                               
from the federal government so as  to avoid a time period of open                                                               
MR. FOGELS  responded the  department has  discussed that,  and a                                                               
number of  other things could be  done in this legislation.   For                                                               
example, the legislature could lift  the Mineral Closing Order so                                                               
the department  does not  have to  do that  later down  the road.                                                               
However, he did  not know whether the  legislature could actually                                                               
reinstate those claims in HB 340.                                                                                               
1:52:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR SEATON  said he does  not want  to hold up  this process                                                               
given that  it is a process,  but said it seems  this process has                                                               
the potential  for further entanglements.   Honoring  the state's                                                               
previous agreement needs  to be done in the  most expeditious way                                                               
that does not  open these claims to conflict.   He requested that                                                               
the sponsor and  DNR work with the Department of  Law to find out                                                               
whether HB 340 can do that  and not result in years of litigation                                                               
for an Alaska citizen who acted in  good faith.  While he did not                                                               
want to hold up the process,  he said that perhaps the Department                                                               
of Law  could suggest a  way to honor  this commitment in  a much                                                               
clearer  way  than going  through  an  open staking  process  and                                                               
relying on at-risk claims to give priority.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN said  that that is the  intent, but certain                                                               
steps must  occur first, as stated  by Mr. Fogels, and  HB 340 is                                                               
the  first step  in working  through this  process.   Ms. Stevens                                                               
acted in  good faith  and did not  have to do  this in  the first                                                               
place; she  wanted to help  the State  of Alaska get  these lands                                                               
conveyed to  it.   Many people  are working  to make  Ms. Stevens                                                               
whole and this is the simplest way.                                                                                             
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
1:56:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR SEATON stated  that the committee is trying  to find the                                                               
most expedited  way to accomplish  this process  without creating                                                               
further  legal entanglements  for Ms.  Stevens.   He  said he  is                                                               
hearing from DNR  that there may be some other  things that could                                                               
be added  by the legislature that  the department cannot do.   He                                                               
understood that  DNR would be  conferring with the  Department of                                                               
Law between now  and the next committee of  referral to determine                                                               
whether  there are  amendments that  would accomplish  the intent                                                               
without putting Ms. Stevens' claims at risk.                                                                                    
MR.  FOGELS confirmed  that  Co-Chair  Seaton's understanding  is                                                               
CO-CHAIR SEATON  said he is fine  with moving the bill  today but                                                               
thinks there  could be a better  and clearer way to  resolve this                                                               
in Ms. Stevens favor.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI said  he thinks  there are  legal issues                                                               
with HB 340 and he  therefore feels uncomfortable moving the bill                                                               
with  recommendations  because there  is  no  other committee  of                                                               
referral.    The  next  time   members  will  see  this  bill  is                                                               
potentially on the House floor.                                                                                                 
1:58:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER stated  that the bill is  not quite ready,                                                               
given that it has no other  committee of referral.  In principle,                                                               
she absolutely  agrees with the bill  - the right thing  to do is                                                               
to make this  person whole.  However, it is  also the right thing                                                               
for the committee to ensure that  it is doing things properly and                                                               
with due diligence.   This needs to be done  correctly so it will                                                               
not come back and bite the state.                                                                                               
CO-CHAIR  FEIGE noted  that the  bill's  next stop  is the  House                                                               
Rules Standing  Committee.  While HB  340 is one way  forward, he                                                               
concurred that there  may be other methods the  Department of Law                                                               
can recommend  for righting the wrong  dealt to Ms. Stevens.   He                                                               
requested  that  if  the  bill is  reported  from  committee  the                                                               
chairman of the  House Rules Standing Committee  be provided with                                                               
an opinion  from the Department  of Law  as to any  other options                                                               
that  might be  available to  the state  or Ms.  Stevens.   It is                                                               
unfortunate  the  Department  of  Law was  unavailable  for  this                                                               
meeting, he said,  but he would like  to see HB 340  moved out of                                                               
committee in the spirit of righting this wrong.                                                                                 
2:01:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  SEATON moved  to report  HB 340  out of  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  zero  fiscal                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  objected, saying that while  she supports                                                               
the bill  in principle, she  thinks it  is "half baked"  and will                                                               
create a fiasco down the road.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  DICK inquired  whether  the  sponsor can  provide                                                               
assurance that HB 340 will do the right thing for Ms. Stevens.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN replied that there  have been many hours of                                                               
discussion  to get  to this  point to  make sure  that the  right                                                               
thing is being done, and he will continue to do that.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER maintained her objection.                                                                                
MS. STEVENS suggested that reinstating  the active mineral rights                                                               
that  existed  prior  to  the  [land  transfer  agreement]  would                                                               
probably clear up the problem.                                                                                                  
2:03:27 PM                                                                                                                    
A  roll  call  vote  was taken.    Representatives  Dick,  Munoz,                                                               
Foster, Feige,  and Seaton  voted in favor  of reporting  HB 340.                                                               
Representatives   Gardner   and   Kawasaki  voted   against   it.                                                               
Therefore,  HB  340  was  reported out  of  the  House  Resources                                                               
Standing Committee by a vote of 5-2.                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Big Game Commercial Svcs - Meekin #1.pdf HRES 3/2/2012 1:00:00 PM
Big Game Commercial Svcs - Quarberg #1.pdf HRES 3/2/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 340 A.pdf HRES 3/2/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 340
HB 340 Sponsor Statement vers A.pdf HRES 3/2/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 340
HB340 Fiscal Note.pdf HRES 3/2/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 340
HB 340 Map.PDF HRES 3/2/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 340
HB340 Tileston - Rutherford Letter 1.26 (1).pdf HRES 3/2/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 340
HB340 DNR Letter to Sen. Huggins 4.9.10.pdf HRES 3/2/2012 1:00:00 PM
HB 340