Legislature(2013 - 2014)
02/24/2014 02:06 PM RES
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HB 246-CREAMER'S FIELD REFUGE; WICKERSHAM HOUSE 2:52:13 PM CO-CHAIR SADDLER announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 246, "An Act adding additional land and water to the Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge." 2:52:34 PM REPRESENTATIVE PETE HIGGINS, Alaska State Legislature, testifying as the prime sponsor, introduced HB 246. He stated that this bill would add additional lands to Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. He characterized this as basically being a boundary change that would incorporate a total of four additional parcels adjacent to Creamer's Field. This land is state-owned land purchased by the state - some in 2001 - and the land has been transferred to the refuge. These acquired parcels have been managed as refuge lands. REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS said that question arose as to whether hunting could still occur if the land is designated as a refuge and the answer is yes. There isn't any plan to change the activities currently being done on these parcels. REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS explained that the refuge is currently managing the lands the statutes must be changed to reflect the actual boundaries to ensure that the Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge can control the land. 2:54:58 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON understood that nothing in the bill would change the statutory purposes. He understood that ADF&G will change the management plans, but those plans must correspond to the statutory purpose. REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS answered that is correct. 2:55:28 PM CO-CHAIR SADDLER asked whether there has been consideration given to managing this land for other purposes. REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS answered no, that the land was given to the refuge in 2001 and everyone has been using it. The only question that has arisen is whether the activities would change if the land was designated as part of the refuge and the answer is no. CO-CHAIR SADDLER understood this will not change the character of the management or recreational activities on the land. REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS answered that it would not. In further response to a question, he said that Creamers Field is located on College Road near the Fairgrounds. The property in question goes farther north and the land is boggy in the summer. CO-CHAIR SADDLER asked whether there has been any known opposition to the bill designating the land as refuge land. REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS answered no. 2:57:18 PM CO-CHAIR FEIGE inquired how the four parcels were acquired by the state. REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS replied that in 2001 the state purchased the parcels with the intention of giving the parcels to the [Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl] Refuge. 2:58:19 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked whether there has been any opposition to HB 246. DOUG VINCENT-LANG, Acting Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G), stated that one individual expressed concern about his use of the refuge to train his dogs. Only one section of the refuge has been restricted from dogs and it consists of some ponds that were constructed for waterfowl enhancement. He stated that these parcels will not have any restrictions in terms of the current activities. Additionally, the DNR has been managing these lands in accordance with the refuge plan for some time without hearing a lot of complaints. 2:59:37 PM CO-CHAIR SADDLER assumed DNR was consulted in terms of the drafting of the bill. REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS answered that is correct. 2:59:56 PM CO-CHAIR SADDLER opened public testimony on HB 246. 3:00:09 PM GEORGE HAPP, Vice President, The Friends of Creamer's Field, stated that the Friends of Creamer's Field offers educational programs on the refuge. The organization supports the addition of lands to the refuge in the interests of more efficient government to have it all managed within the refuge instead of managing the lands "consistent" with the refuge. He concluded by saying "And we support the plan." 3:01:00 PM CO-CHAIR SADDLER, after first determining no one else wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 246. REPRESENTATIVE OLSON asked whether there is any reason to hold the bill over since it is non-controversial. CO-CHAIR SADDLER said he didn't think so. 3:01:36 PM CO-CHAIR FEIGE moved to report HB 246 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal note. There being no objection, HB 246 was reported from the House Resources Standing Committee.