Legislature(2013 - 2014)

02/24/2014 02:06 PM RES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        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.                                                                                                   

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