Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/16/1994 03:35 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CHAIRMAN MILLER called the Resources Committee meeting to order at 3:35 p.m. and announced SB 310 (STATE/PRIVATE/MUNI TIMBER OPERATION/SALE) to be up for consideration. He said today the Committee would take testimony and the proposed CS would be ready by next Friday. TOM DOWLING, Delta Junction, said he is a third generation Alaskan. He said SB 310 is the worst bill he has seen in a long time. The Tanana Forest is not a rapid growth forest and cannot sustain intensive logging. He opposed SB 310. DOUG EUERS, Tok resident for 45 years, supported SB 310. He said he was concerned with having jobs in Tok and if the forest had been cut 45 years ago, it would be healthy second growth timber by now. Number 133 TERRY DOYLE, Tok resident for 6 years, agreed that timber harvest has many benefits in addition to timber production, particularly in enhancing wildlife habitat. However, managed unwisely, timber harvesting has a detrimental effect not only on wildlife, but eventually on the people who depend on the forest resources. The effect of SB 310 is to minimize multiple use benefits of the state forests. It also severely inhibits public input and emphasized timber harvesting over all other uses. KATHY O'RIELLY, Tok resident, supported wide use of forest resources and opposed SB 310. She said it looked like this bill promotes the timber industry while minimizing the values of other forest resources. GEORGE PINE, Tok sawmill operator for 25 years, stressed the acceptance of this bill in his area. He wanted to clarify section 3, however, to say that forest management agreements are to be specifically for the harvest and management of hardwoods. GLEN MARUNDE, Tok resident for 53 years, said he makes his living as a contractor. He said it is much harder to make a living today than it was in the past. He supported SB 310, because it would help develop economic based infrastructure while revenues are declining. Number 227 STEVE GIBSON, Homer resident, said SB 310 would diminish DNR's responsiveness to the many other uses of the woods directly and indirectly. It directly avoids public comments on the negotiation between state foresters and industry presidents. He was strongly opposed to SB 310 and didn't think there was any modification that would rehabilitate it. NANCY HILLSTRAND, Homer, said her corporation just celebrated the anniversary of their 30th year. She was strongly opposed to SB 310, because it limits the public process. She said land in Alaska belongs to Alaskans. SB 310 is careless management. Resources must be managed for the long run benefit of the people as a whole or a public trust. It should not be subverted through the indifference or greed of future generations. NINA FAUST, Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, said they were shocked by SB 310. It locks the public out of participation in the process of managing its most valuable renewable resource, timber. It makes timber extraction the primary use on all state forest lands greater than 640 acres. Timber extraction is not compatible with all other forest uses. Concentrating on small scale timber operations would be far more beneficial to the long term economic development. MS. FAUST said they were also concerned that the Commissioner of DNR would be authorized to negotiate long term contracts with big term companies for up to 20 years with 20 year extensions. They are opposed to long term timber contracts. There is no public oversight of any of the timber harvesting. Forest management agreements would be negotiated with no public knowledge or comment until after a tentative agreement with DNR and the timber company had been reached. SB 310 is directly contrary to the public's desire for more public notice and opportunity to participate in oil and gas issues, MS. FAUST said. Timber extraction on state lands has a potential to impact joint private property, as well as other adjoining federal and private lands. The state should under no circumstances have legislation that restricts the public right to participate in the oversight of the disposal or sale of public resources. Number 355 KATHY SMITH, Homer, opposed SB 310. She said this is not just an interior Alaska issue. The bill is too bad to be amended in any form. WINSLOW HOFFMAN, Homer resident, was completely opposed to SB 310. There is nothing redeeming about it, he said. There wasn't any reason to even go on with a committee substitute. Number 375 ROBERT SHUMAKER, Chairman for the Mat-Su Borough Agricultural and Forestry Board, said the Mat-Su Borough Assembly recently realized that the value of the timber isn't being sustained and came up with something similar to what this bill is. ED DAVIS, Member, Alaska Wilderness, Recreation and Tourism Association, said this organization includes over 220 businesses and 100 recreational users whose livelihoods and lifestyles depend on the remote and wild character of Alaska. He said that Alaska's forests can sustain a small scale timber industry, but SB 310 would manage our prime forest lands for the exclusive use of large scale corporate clear cutting interests. These lands must also be managed to sustain the tourism and recreation industries along with fishing, trapping, hunting, subsistence, and a small scale timber industry. Number 443 CARYL BOEHNERT, Anchorage, opposed SB 310. She said this bill hurts just about everyone except large timber companies. She did not think long term timber contracts were a gift economically to the rest of Alaska. JAMES MYKLAND, Cordova fisherman for 18 years, opposed SB 310, because it would make timber cutting the dominant use on most state lands. This bill cuts out the Forest Practices Act and takes the public completely out of the picture. KARL BECKER, Prince William Sound Conservation Alliance, opposed SB 310, because it subverts the public process by eliminating public involvement in the management of state lands and places timber harvest above all other uses. The current Forest Practices Act provides minimum protections for forest habitats and anadromous waters. Passage of SB 310 would ruin the Forest Practices Act provisions. JOE SEBASTIAN, Point Baker resident, opposed SB 310 as a jobs bill. This is the wrong way to create jobs. He said SB 310 would impose a DNR dictatorship on the citizens of Alaska. It will remove the existing democratic checks and balances that are for the protection of the state and its citizens from bureaucratic bungling. MR. SEBASTIAN said the legislators were elected to uphold the laws of the state, to protect the people of the state from fraud, from graft, and from corruption. Yet, SB 310 imposes all of that and more on the people of Alaska. Number 519 JOAN COWSER, Point Baker, opposed SB 310, because it's a blueprint to repeat all the bad mistakes that have occurred on forest land. Long term contracts are not conducive to responsible forest management for sustainable economic development. The interests of a select handful of corporations and their politicians are the only ones to be served by this bill, she said. SB 310 exemplifies, in an extremely underhanded fashion, misuse of public office to further a private agenda while trampling over the best interests of Alaskans. LARRY SMITH, Anchorage, opposed SB 310, because it subordinated all other existing value added uses of the forest to large scale timber scales. He asked the state to stop holding low cost timber sales citing the Spruce Bark Beetle cutting and the University of Alaska timber sale. He thought they not only needed to consider the value of timber at the time, but the value of the contingent resources like fishing and recreation. TAPE 94-20, SIDE B Number 580 MARK STAHL, Chugach Alaska Corporation, said the Chugach lands are not currently being managed in a professional manner by the DNR. If SB 310 is passed, this situation will be rectified. He said SB 310 would be a very important management tool for DNR to have emergency timber sales to swiftly treat forest areas under imminent threat by infectious disease. Another important tool is the ability of the Department to enter into Forest Management Agreements whereby the state can augment its own capabilities by utilizing the land management skills of those professional individuals working for private industry. He believed SB 310 would lead to healthier forest ecosystems throughout the states, as well as increase activity in rural Alaska. JIM PAGE, Forester, Seward Forest Products, said he spent 20 years working in and observing the forest industry in the Rocky Mountains, Southeast Alaska, interior Alaska, Canada, and Sweden. He has first hand experience with FMAs that work in Canada. He said SB 310 is important to the people of Alaska. Proper management of the state's resources is of great interest to everyone. The concepts embodied in this bill have been successful in Canada for managing most of the forest resource and the fish and wildlife populations. It has provided jobs and encouraged capital investment and produced a product that is used locally and can be exported as well. He said it is essential to the state that there is a continuous planned supply of timber for companies such as SFP which employees 76 people with an annual payroll of $3 million. SFP supports some 190 secondary industries in southcentral Alaska. The FMA concept can be used most beneficially on the Kenai, in Fairbanks, and in the Delta region. CARL PORTMAN, Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc., supported SB 310, because it would encourage reasonable timber harvest and create long term jobs in the forest industry. The FMA concept is an idea whose time has come, he said. MR. PORTMAN supported SB 310, because it would provide a long term stable supply of timber which is critical to timber development. Timber is a renewable resource. Cutting trees is not an environmental crime. With most of the federal lands being closed to logging, most future development will occur on state lands and FMAs offer a real opportunity for sustainable development to local communities. KEN FREEMAN, Anchorage resident, supported SB 310, because it encouraged reasonable responsible timber development and creates long term high paying jobs for Alaskans in the forest industry. FMAs would provide incentive for the entire industry to invest in forest harvest management and local manufacture facilities. TODD BUREAU, Director, Adventure Alaska, opposed SB 310. He says it is for the short term profit of a single industry, and only large scale timber operators, at that. It skips over the public review over a resource that in many ways defines what it is to be an Alaskan. JEFF PARKER, Alaska Sport Fishing Association, opposed SB 310. They concur with the letter from the Anchorage Fish and Game Advisory Committee. The increased access to timber harvest activities inevitably increases pressure, first, on sensitive stocks of fish and wildlife. DAN ALBRECHT, Executive Director, Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association, said the fishermen are very concerned about this bill. The first concern is with the gutting of the public process and saying that multiple use management no longer counts. He said he has heard that the problem is beetles which, he realized, was a legitimate concern, but there should be a separate bill to deal with that and not gut the whole Forest Practices Act. MR. ALBRECHT asked why they can't just work through the existing Tanana Valley management plans? Number 374 JIM MINTON, Flathead Lake Property Owners Association, said he had been involved in the public process to develop the Forest Practices Act which was recently enacted. It was approved by logging entities, DNR, and the environmental organizations. He asked them to not throw those years of work out the window. He said that FMAs have been documented as not being wanted here. GRANT HUNTER, Anchorage resident, opposed SB 310. He said people are not going to come up and go hunting and fishing in a wasteland. SB 310 subverts the public process. We would also lose the future value of the timber because it would be locked up in 20 year contracts. He said there is no reason to think that companies will be in business in the future and have the desire to reforest. DANA WAGNER, Anchorage resident, opposed SB 310. He said it was another clear cut disaster to give timber harvest priority use on all state lands. He pointed out the Point McKenzie Dairy disaster which is still being subsidized by the people of Alaska as being one example of a state approved clear cut disaster. ERUK WILLIAMSON, Anchorage Fish and Game Advisory Committee, opposed SB 310, because it undermines the current multiple use practices on state forested lands. Several sections of this bill would be detrimental to habitat and the stocks of our state's fish and game resources. Section 4 eliminates the existing authority of the Commissioner of DNR to classify lands greater than 640 acres as closed to timber sale and provides that only the legislature can institute such closures. Section 6, the reforestation requirement, would favor non-indigenous trees over native stocks and in many instances could negatively impact fish and game species. Section 11 revises the purposes of designated state forests to make them more commercially oriented. Section 12 requires DNR to allow, to the fullest extent possible, access to and use of natural resources which would eliminate the Department's authority to restrict access for injured fish and game habitat. Number 200 LOISANN REEDER, Susitna Valley Association, opposed SB 310. She said over 90% of the Fairbanks public does not support large scale logging on public lands. The public will support small scale timber harvesting, but only if done in a responsible manner, with adequate public process and oversite. SB 310 makes timber harvesting a priority use of the land closing the door on other forest uses and values that are more important economically and culturally than logging. The moderator said that MARY GRISCO, Sierra Club, had to return to work, but wanted to speak in opposition to the bill. CLIFF EAMES, Alaska Center for the Environment, said this bill would have very substantial adverse affects on the vast majority of Alaska's public. It gives preference to a small minority of loggers over all others. Forest Management Agreements are a terrible idea, he also stated. Anything close to a 20 year period is far too long to enable them to accommodate economic changes or changes in public desires concerning preferred uses of public lands. JIM SEELEY, Redshirt Landowners Association, opposed SB 310, supporting the remarks made by Loisann Reeder. After years of work the Susitna Forest Guideline was established by consensus which the Commissioner did sign off on. SB 310 seems to gut the entire process that they went through in devising these guidelines. He said the people have not all of a sudden changed their minds. CRAIG KETCHUM, President, Ketchum Airservice, said his family makes a living in many different ways with tourism, fishing, hunting, etc. He opposed SB 310. He said the southcentral Alaska should support the tourism industry. It should look like the last frontier and there should be some fish left to catch. JOHN HALL, Professional Forester, supported SB 310. He is a member of many conservation associations as well. He said this is good legislation, but, unfortunately, there is a reaction to mistakes made in the Susitna Forest sale. He said there are very few instances where good forestry timber harvest has damaged the habitat of any salmon streams. ROBERTA SHELVIN, Talkeetna, said her business is dependent on the recreational and tourism industry. She opposed SB 310. TAPE 94-21, SIDE A Number 001 SB 310 gives priority to large scale logging at the cost of other important uses. It also circumvents or even eliminates public review and input. There will be negative impacts on all of Alaska. RICK ERNST, Trapper Creek, opposed SB 310. He said the Matsu Assembly passed a resolution against use of FMAs. SB 310 makes development of commercial forest land the primary goal of state forestry management which we don't need. We need a multi use approach to forest management. Up to 90% of the general public is opposed to big timber companies logging in the valley. JUDY PRICE, Chase area resident, opposed SB 310. She lives in the bush and her subsistence depends on the health of the forest. As a commercial fisherman, she depends on the health of the rivers and spawning streams. These areas are not considered priority by the timber companies. Long term needs of the people of Alaska will be sacrificed for short term profits. This is exactly the myopic approach to resource management that has turned the forests in the lower 48 into one dimensional tree farms. This is not what we want for Alaska. Number 110 PAUL BRACKEN, Talkeetna, opposed SB 310 and urged them to reject any future FMA proposals. GREG MAHACEK, North Pole resident, said his main concern was to insure multiple use of all the land. He said there are too many restrictions to multiple use like parks and wilderness. This bill was written in answer to obstructionists that drag on the public process or to make sure that logging remains a compatible multiple use industry. DAVID STANNARD, Fairbanks, said he didn't think the legislature understood the importance of micro-economics and its relation to a sustainable and long term economy. Number 222 SUSHEILA KHERA, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310, because it favors large scale logging by large corporations. The state forests should be used for multiple uses, including small scale logging operations. ROBERT STEPHENSON, Fairbanks, said he has logged in the past and knows it's difficult to make a living that way. If we are going to develop a management plan, we should insure that small mills and commercial fire wood cutters have adequate access to timber. Encouraging large corporations to log our forests is not beneficial to the residents of Fairbanks or to the small time operators who will utilize the forest products. Number 254 SARAH JAMES, Arctic Village, said she learned to protect the environment so it would take care of us. She said our lives depend on the forests. She opposed SB 310 with long term large scale logging and no public input, especially from the indigenous people of Alaska. RON BROOKS, Alaska Rural Sensing and Cartographic Services, supported SB 310. They are internationally promoting the commercial development of Sunlight Data Acquisitions in the Fairbanks area and thirteen other companies have expressed their interest in locating data acquisition ground stations near Fairbanks. This has the potential of bringing in millions of dollars of new construction and hundreds of long term technical jobs in satellite data acquisition. The primary reason Fairbanks is being considered over other polar areas is that Alaska business is expected to be significant user of satellite mapping technology. MR. BROOKS said if SB 310 is not approved, the satellite companies will look elsewhere. PAMELA WEBSTER, Fairbanks resident, opposed SB 310. The primary use in the Tanana Valley Forest should not be large scale logging. The state of Alaska will have to subsidize roads to the proposed logging areas and who knows what else. The ultimate loss would not be worth the short term gain. Number 367 DOUG YATES, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310. He said Senator Frank has promoted it as a job creation bill, but it will create jobs and destroy existing ones and promote the boom and bust cycles. He would prefer to see the time and tax money that has been spent promoting SB 310 redirected toward reconciling the goals of economic vitality and environmental stewardship in the regions of the Tanana Basin. RICHARD HAYDEN, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310. He said he had been a log cutter and long term large scale logging is not compatible with the natural system. Number 388 MONICA GARZA, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310, because it favors harvest of timber above all other uses. We should be looking at industries that will develop our future. LARRY PAQUIN, 22 year resident of Alaska, opposed SB 310, because it limits public input and favors special large scale timber interests. SKIP LIPSCOMB, Fairbanks, said his family was going on its fifth decade in the area. He opposed SB 310 as a slap in the face of the people of Alaska. It cuts them totally out of the picture. It favors large scale special interest timber cutting. RICHARD HAYES strongly opposed SB 310, because large scale timber harvesting is incompatible with wilderness values. Higher priorities should be given to subsistence, hunting, fishing, and trapping. Number 500 PATTY CRAW, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310, because it is full of ambiguous language and favors big timber interests. It does away with public opinions. OAKLEY COCHRAN, Fairbanks landowner, opposed SB 310, because it virtually eliminates due public process. KEANN TAE, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310, because it eliminates the public process and puts large scale commercial logging ahead of multiple sustainable uses. Twenty year contracts are far to long to practice sustainable responsible logging. DAVE LACEY, Fairbanks, said he works in the tourism industry and urged the Committee to scrap SB 310, because of its impacts on that industry. He said they need to support the economic development that's going on right now rather than try to bring in a bunch of outsiders to try to take their jobs away. RANDY MAYO, Chief, Stephens Village Council, strongly opposed SB 310 for all of the reasons stated. He said the bill is short sighted and will leave nothing for their children and grand children. Number 560 STEVE LARUE, Fairbanks, said he worked on the original Tanana Valley State Forest bill. It was an excellent bill of compromise. There was a great deal of effort put into the bill, and there was much agreement. Then in 1990 the Forest Practices Act came through and took away all that negotiating. Multiple use includes forest products and using the timber in the forest. He supported SB 310 partially, because it replaces original language from the Tanana State Forest bill. He said that all the trees that were cut for river boats long ago have totally come back and also that a young forest produces more oxygen than old growth forest. STEVE PECHECK, Fairbanks resident for 20 years, supported small scale logging, not give aways to large enterprises. TAPE 94-21, SIDE B Number 580 He reminded the Committee to measure economic gain against economic drain by remembering three large state driven projects: the Delta barley project, Point McKenzie, and the Tanana Valley State Forest. CATHY WALLING, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310. She was shocked that our present knowledge, insight, and wisdom could not produce a better overall sustainable plan marked with stewardship and land management. It frustrates her to know the public process has been cut out and legislators are not hearing the vast outcry from people all through the state who are opposed to large scale timber development. SEAN MCGUIRE, Fairbanks, said all you have to do is look at what happened in the Pacific Northwest. Look what happens when large scale companies come in with long term contracts. The same is true of the Tongass. He surmised that a survey of Senator Frank's district would probably show 90% opposed to large scale logging. So he couldn't understand why he was pushing large scale logging. MS. SULLIVAN, Haines, opposed SB 310. She thought it did a great disservice to the logging industry. FLORIAN SEVER, Sitka resident, opposed SB 310, because it is a sad and shameful example of state government's addiction to abuse of our state's timber resources. This represents just another timber grab, he said. MICHAEL PUCKETT, Sitka resident, strongly opposed SB 310. Section 1, line 1 should state "best interests of the land" not "the state." JOSH SIMMONS, Sitka, said responsible timber extraction is an oxymoron. He said clear cutting will kill their forests and its wealth of life. JERRY BROOKMAN, Kenai, said he was not opposed to logging provided it's done properly. But it is hard to look 20 years into the future. 5 years is more reasonable. He prefers the present system and sees nothing in SB 310 that improves it. Number 453 DALE BONDURANT, Soldotna, opposed SB 310, because it expands on timber profits at the expense of water, fish, and wildlife resources. BYRON BONDURANT, Soldotna, said he is a retired engineer and educator, spending many years in international development. He said SB 310 is seriously flawed in concept and content. Any bill having to do with the resources of the state should say "interests of the people of the state." He is particularly concerned with this legislation that keeps negotiations secret, makes the state supreme, and smacks of socialism which was the first example of the rise of nazism and fascism in Europe. He thought a better title for this bill would be "A provision for establishing commercial limited entry of yet another of our resources in this state: timber." TOM BOUTIN, Director, Division of Forestry, said he would comment at a later meeting when the CS was ready. Number 577 ED MURA, Point Baker, opposed SB 310, because it seems incredibly short sighted. It looks like sweetheart deals in the guise of 20 year timber contracts. He said there is chronic mismanagement of timber resources. GRETCHEN GOLDSTEIN, Point Protection, opposed SB 310, because of the 20 year contracts and clear cut logging. It would negate the public effort put into the Forest Practices Act. It does not have meaningful public input. Turning state forests into merchantable timber destroys habitat and is the single largest environmental problem on earth. SB 310 makes commercial development the primary purpose of the state forest. Large scale timber harvest is incompatible with subsistence use or a commercial fishery. Alaska has wildness. Long term contracts with no public review is not in the public interest in the present or the future. MIKE MORTELL, Point Baker, opposed SB 310, because long term contracts don't work here. This bill will probably cause more expense than anything else with the loss to the little communities.