Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/02/1994 03:50 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SENATOR MILLER announced  SB 310  (STATE/PRIVATE/MUNI TIMBER                  
 OPERATION/SALE) to be up for consideration.                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK said the purpose behind the bill is to encourage                
 long-term investment in timber development to create long-term                
 stable jobs on a sustained basis.  He said they wanted to maintain            
 a public process, but at the same time they want to allow the                 
 Department an additional means to have a long-term sale negotiated            
 so that investment can be attracted under terms and conditions that           
 will result in value-added processing.  He pointed out that any               
 forest management agreement would still fall under the Forest                 
 Practices Act and be subject to existing permits, etc.                        
                                                                               
 JERRY LUCKHAUPT, Division of Legal Services, said the bill deals              
 with the sale and management of state timber in state forests.  He            
 reviewed briefly the bill's sections.                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR ZHAROFF commented that the Forest Practices Act took a lot            
 of time and a lot of individuals were involved - the timber                   
 industry, the Native Corporations, municipalities, fishermen,                 
 tourism and environmental groups, etc.  He asked how it changed the           
 provisions of the Forest Practices Act.                                       
                                                                               
 MR. LUCKHAUPT explained that Sections 6 - 15 make changes to the              
 Forest Practices Act.  Some of the changes are corresponding                  
 changes made to Title 38.                                                     
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-15, SIDE B                                                           
 Number 588                                                                    
                                                                               
  Sections 8 and 9 seem to be common sense changes, he noted,                  
 removing the requirement that the Commissioner notify himself                 
 whenever he engages in or allows operations on state land dealing             
 with removal of timber.                                                       
                                                                               
 He said it does make substantial changes to the Forest Practices              
 Act especially some of the definition changes.                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR ZHAROFF asked what lands were affected by this legislation.           
 SENATOR FRANK said it would have some effect on municipal and                 
 private as well as state lands - no affect on federal lands.  MR.             
 LUCKHAUPT said that a lot of the intent in the bill was to apply to           
 only state lands, although a couple provisions apply across the               
 board - for example the reforestation standards.                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR ZHAROFF asked if the Forest Practices Act was not working.            
 SENATOR FRANK replied it was his intent to allow the Department to            
 do a long-term sale under a negotiated basis - with public input -            
 so that people who have the capability of making an investment will           
 have an assurance they will have a long-term stable supply.  In so            
 doing, they would create a value-added industry rather than just              
 cutting and shipping.  It would be done in a sustained yield                  
 manner.                                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR ZHAROFF said one of the real problems he has with the bill            
 is like that of SB 308 which took a real slap at the public process           
 through the Coastal Zone Management policies.  The concern is that            
 the public process is being circumvented.                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK said he did understand the concern and thought                  
 different language might clarify the issue.                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER announced they would begin the teleconference and              
 called on Fairbanks to begin.                                                 
                                                                               
 RICHARD BISHOP, Fairbanks, testified that statutory revisions                 
 regarding forest management should assure that overall forest                 
 management goals will be met, including the legitimate goal of                
 producing sustained yield commercial timber harvest.  Cooperation             
 among agencies, general public, and commercial users is necessary.            
 They cannot support the bill as written, however.  He said he had             
 submitted written testimony, but wanted to mention a few points               
 now.  He recommended doing a clear cut on the statutory language              
 rather than selective cuts and then initiate a reforestation                  
 effort.  SB 310 has elements of confusion and concern: for                    
 instance, does "a finding in the best interests of the state"                 
 adequately address forest resource interests?  There is no obvious            
 requirement for coordination of the forest management agreement               
 over local uses of forest land.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 489                                                                    
                                                                               
 BILL ALLEN, Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, supported SB 310,                  
 because it is essential to economic development in the interior of            
 Alaska for investors to have access to our resources and long-term            
 agreements must be available to insure that access.                           
                                                                               
 MICHAEL WALLERI, General Counsel for Tanana Chiefs Conference,                
 introduced CHRIS MAISCH, Director, Forestry Department, who                   
 accompanied him.  He said they have provided the committee with a             
 position paper saying there were a profound number of concerns they           
 had with the bill.  There were three pages of proposed amendments             
 and a discussion paper on the concept of sustained yield.                     
                                                                               
 Tanana Chiefs Conference is the largest forestry management program           
 in the interior of Alaska and, he said, they cannot support the               
 bill and would oppose its passage.                                            
                                                                               
 MR. WALLERI said that basically the intent of the bill is to                  
 authorize forestry management agreements which they agree with.               
 The bill drastically reduces public input and abandons sound                  
 planning processes and a number of standards currently in the                 
 Forest Practices Act, which isn't necessary.                                  
                                                                               
 He said there is a big difference between the state management and            
 private interest management.  The state has a fiduciary obligation.           
 Private individuals do not have the same obligation.                          
                                                                               
 MR. MAISCH testified that the way the bill is structured it removes           
 reference to AS 38 and AS 41 in regards to regional plans and also            
 forest management plans.  Those are two important components in               
 which local communities have invested a lot of time.  He said the             
 five year schedule was deleted in one section and that is important           
 to retain, because it provides notice to other land owners,                   
 specifically, native allotment land owners that are inholders in              
 the state forest or potential proposed forest management                      
 agreements.                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. MAISCH explained that through coordinated sales they can start            
 managing for ecosystems rather than just for a piece of land                  
 someone might own, a concept he said was important.                           
                                                                               
 He said they could support a definition that would equate                     
 "sustained yield" to the annual harvest of growth increment on the            
 cite.  He also supported non-declining flow management as practiced           
 in the interior.                                                              
                                                                               
 In conclusion, he said they are in favor of retention of area,                
 regional, and site specific forest plans.  They support multiple              
 use designations for forest lands that include subsistence as a               
 consideration.  They support deleting the proposed public access              
 requirements that affect private lands.  They consider authorizing            
 coordination of state and private sales that encourage the                    
 maintenance of sustained yield and ecosystem management concepts.             
 They are not in favor of the state selling timber at a net loss in            
 terms of revenue generation to the state.                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK thanked them for the time they took in analyzing the            
 bill and said he looked forward to working with them on it.                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR ZHAROFF asked them if the amendments took care of most of             
 their concerns.  MR. MAISCH said essentially the amendments put               
 back in to place the Title 38 and 41 planning processes.  They                
 think that the coordinated timber sale is an interesting concept              
 which needs developing.                                                       
                                                                               
 JUDY WARWICK, Fairbanks, resident supported SB 310.  She said the             
 cost and delay of duplication of forest land use plans has impeded            
 development where no other industry has the same requirement.  A              
 mandated two year advance scheduling of sales under 500,000 board             
 feet and long-term timber management leases have not been an                  
 option.  Without the security of long-term leases, companies cannot           
 risk the capital investment required in this type of industry.                
                                                                               
 She also pointed out that the U.S. currently imports $6 million               
 worth of birch from Canada.                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER said anyone could fax their comments to the                    
 Committee.                                                                    
                                                                               
 JAN DAWE, Fairbanks resident, opposed SB 310.  She said the written           
 testimony is the work of approximately 20 residents and                       
 approximately 2,000 hours.  She said they do not want SB 310 even             
 if it is amended.  4,000 acres is tripling the current harvest                
 level.                                                                        
                                                                               
 CELIA HUNTER, Fairbanks resident, opposed SB 310.  The changes it             
 mandates range from completely rewriting the original purposes for            
 which the state forests were created to a literal sell out of those           
 forests to corporate interests and long-term sales arranged behind            
 closed doors between the Commissioner of DNR and the corporations             
 without any public notice or opportunity to comment until such                
 deals are foregone conclusions.                                               
                                                                               
 Present management policies adopted by DNR and the Division of                
 Forestry are existing support from a comprehensive cross section of           
 Alaska residents who have a long term stake in how their forests              
 are managed, she said.  This cooperative effort will be scuttled if           
 SB 310 is adopted.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 338                                                                    
                                                                               
 MARY SHIELDS, Fairbanks resident, said she cares passionately about           
 the community.  She said she is very mad, because it is the fourth            
 time she has had to leave work to voice her concerns.  She said               
 Fairbanks residents have spent thousands of hours trying to work on           
 forestry issues, and the general voice says they don't want large             
 scale timber harvest in the Tanana Valley.                                    
                                                                               
 She said the people of Fairbanks want to be part of the decision              
 making process.  Giving the Commissioner authority to make forest             
 management agreements is an outrageous infringement of the public             
 process.                                                                      
                                                                               
 MS. SHIELDS said she worked with Senator Fahrenkamp on the Forest             
 Practices Act and multiple use of the forest was the intent.  They            
 have no right to change that.                                                 
                                                                               
 GINNY HILL WOOD, Fairbanks resident, opposed SB 310.  It blocks               
 citizens input on economic, ecological, or forestry issues.  She              
 had testimony which she faxed to the Committee.                               
                                                                               
 RON RICKETTS, Executive Director, Fairbanks Industrial Development            
 Corporation, supported SB 310.  He said a majority of the people in           
 this community support development and the forest industry as they            
 envision it.  They do not want to decimate any forest or trample              
 over any users.  They do know they need to build a tax base on a              
 long-term basis, mostly because of the reduction in state revenues.           
                                                                               
                                                                               
 SEAN MCGUIRE, Fairbanks resident, said that there is broad and                
 overwhelming support for small scale local logging.  He thought the           
 exact opposite of what Mr. Ricketts said was true.  There is a                
 feeling that what they have is very special.  The forest is simply            
 too valuable to have the large scale clear cutting this legislation           
 invites.  This bill from start to finish is extreme, he said.  It's           
 guaranteed to cause a political storm.  He strongly opposed SB 310.           
                                                                               
 DALE HAGGSTROM, Fairbanks resident, opposed SB 310.  He asked where           
 would the kind of management described in it leave the small scale            
 local logging operators and other forest related businesses that              
 depend on the forest for raw materials.                                       
                                                                               
 EVA SAULITIS, Fairbanks resident, was shocked that this bill shut             
 out public participation.  This bill would make development of                
 commercial forest land the primary purpose of the Boards.  She                
 asked Senator Frank which constituents this bill represented, not             
 those who are dependent on a long-term sustainability of the forest           
 or the small scale mill operators, wood crafters, hunters,                    
 trappers, tourists, or subsistence users.  This bill is designed to           
 please the wealthy and politically influential minority.  It would            
 also benefit large outside logging companies.  She said the bill              
 was a sleazy and shameful attempt at getting around the democratic            
 process.                                                                      
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-16, SIDE A                                                           
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
  MOLLY HUDSON, Fairbanks resident, said this bill eliminates public           
 input.  She does not want to see big business devour our forest.              
 The authors of SB 310 do not care about small loggers, trappers, or           
 hunting and fishing guides.  She said if this bill passes, all they           
 will be able to afford to do is change the way they vote.                     
                                                                               
 SYLVIA WARD, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, said SB 310 was            
 not a fine tuning of the Forest Practices Act.  She also said that            
 the assumption timber harvest can improve the economy or make up              
 the oil revenue shortfall is a myth with no basis in economic fact.           
                                                                               
 Developing timber resources will only dig a deeper budget hole.               
 According to a study by the legislative research agency the                   
 Department of Natural Resources lost approximately $.90 on each               
 dollar in 1992.  State timber revenues might improve as the price             
 of timber increases.  Timber harvest and processing tends to drain            
 resources out of the economy.  Most of the logs are exported to               
 Japan for processing.  In addition, logging has a serious problem             
 with out of state hire.  Only the fish processing industry                    
 employees a higher percentage of non-Alaskans.  Rather than                   
 improving our communities, the influx of new residents further                
 stresses existing city, borough, and state supported services.                

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