Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/22/1994 03:33 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 CHAIRMAN MILLER called the Resources Committee meeting to order at            
 3:33 p.m. and announced  SB 310  (STATE/PRIVATE/MUNI TIMBER                   
 OPERATION/SALE) to be up for consideration.                                   
 SENATOR FRANK, sponsor, said they had prepared a CS as a result of            
 previous testimony.  They had strengthened the public process by              
 adding another public comment period of 90 days.  It insured that             
 all FMA's would be public information once the public comment                 
 period began.  It clarified the environmental protections that were           
 intended by requiring that FMA's be consistent with existing land             
 use plans and that they retain site specific land use plans.  A cap           
 was put on the small sale exemption of 1 million acres per region.            
 Biannual operating plans are required so the Department would have            
 an ongoing role in any FMA that was approved.  Operating level and            
 inventory plans are also required under an FMA.  The CS also                  
 clarified the protection for other forest uses.  He said they                 
 removed provisions of the bill not essential to the central purpose           
 including the requirement that any closures of more than 640 acres            
 come back to the legislature.  The reforestation and modifications            
 were taken out, because they were confusing.  They retained the               
 activities and lifestyles wording that was important to the public.           
 They also retained the requirement that timber sales be on the five           
 year sale plan for two years in advance.                                      
 RICK SOLEY, Aide to Senator Frank, ran through the CS with the                
 TOM BOUTIN, Director, Division of Forestry, said the Department did           
 have some problems with SB 310 because it impacted the public                 
 processes in Title 38.  The CS takes care of those concerns.                  
 Section 1 modifies what must be considered in a forest land use               
 plan only in the instance of an area where there is a plan already            
 in place.  Section 2 allows an exemption from 38.05.113 for sales             
 of 500,000 board feet or less.  Section 3 gives the Department the            
 ability to do long term negotiated timber sales.                              
 SENATOR MILLER asked for a list of the timber sales in the last               
 five years.  MR. BOUTIN said he didn't have that information with             
 him, but the state has been averaging 25 million - 30 million board           
 feet per year, about 100 sales per year.                                      
 FLORIAN SEVER, Sitka, said SB 310 as amended still creates a                  
 monumental boondoggle.  It's a sweetheart deal struck between the             
 Commissioner of DNR and whoever he wishes to give a long term                 
 contract to.  This bill will cause more trouble than it's worth.              
 It should be withdrawn.                                                       
 DON MULLER, Sitka, said SB 310 ranks right up with the worst of the           
 bills.  It is being put forth by a desperate timber industry.                 
 Please vote against this bill, he said.                                       
 SEAN DAMRON, Sitka, said SB 310 is an embarrassment.  Timber                  
 harvest can be done better in a sustainable manner.  There should             
 be consistency with state and federal lands.                                  
 MATT KINNEY, Valdez, said he has his own lodge business and that he           
 was able to harvest his logs at the mile 70 beetle kill.  He said             
 the land surrounding his lodge is state land which isn't under any            
 management plan at all.  He is concerned that the state will come             
 in and harvest the timber.  He said this bill has no process for              
 him to have input into what happens to the surrounding land.                  
 TERRY HERMACH, Valdez, opposed SB 310, because it's a very poor               
 utilization of state land. Cutting the beetle kill spruce is fine,            
 but going into healthy tracts of timber to cut for export to the              
 orient is a foolish attempt, at best, to utilize the land, he said.           
 Number 416                                                                    
 ED DAVIS, Professional Engineer, said he is a recreational user               
 depending on the remote and wild character of Alaska's resources .            
 He personally knows several people who dedicated 3 years of their             
 lives to developing the agreements on which the Forest Practices              
 Act was conceived.  This Act reflects painstaking consensus                   
 building efforts by five representatives of the forest products               
 industry, five representatives of other forest users, and including           
 representatives from DNR, ADF&G, DEC, DGC, and DCED.  They wanted             
 to avoid the divisive and bitter disputes that have plagued elected           
 officials in the Pacific Northwest.  They envisioned a responsible            
 timber industry that would have wide spread support throughout the            
 communities in which they are located.  They sought agreements by             
 consensus rather than by disputes and endless court decisions.  SB            
 310 is designed to benefit only one of the many users of our                  
 state's forest.  Both versions of SB 310 represent bad public                 
 policy, MR. DAVIS said.                                                       
 In reference to Mr. Boutin's comment that he had seen some sites in           
 the Fairbanks area which would grow 20,000 board feet per acre.  He           
 said, if you take a look at the 1984-85 inventory, there is only              
 18,800 acres up there that fit that description.  That would be               
 gone very quickly under the five year plan which would cut 14,300             
 acres per year.  No other lands up there come close to having that            
 volume of timber.                                                             
 TROY REINHART, Executive Director, Alaska Forest Association,                 
 supported CSSB 310.  He said they realized there are many                     
 misconceptions regarding this proposed legislation.  They feel the            
 CS addresses the public concern with the earlier bill and                     
 strengthens the state's ability to manage its forest lands.  It               
 will allow DNR to respond to forest health problems and bring                 
 positive returns to the state treasury.  It will result in a                  
 sustained yield harvest of state forest land and allows for public            
 CLIFF SKILLINGS, Ketchikan, said SB 310 provides the potential for            
 increased wage jobs and employment in remote areas where employment           
 levels have historically been low.                                            
 Number 516                                                                    
 CLARENCE FURBUSH, Matsu, said he objects very much to SB 310,                 
 because it doesn't give opportunity to private individuals to own             
 and manage land resources.  This would increase unemployment and              
 DORI MCDANNOLD, Valley Alaska Center for the Environment, opposed             
 SB 310.  It is a farce, she said, the basic premise being use of              
 FMAs which are not acceptable.  She said the state does not make              
 money on large timber sales.                                                  
 WINSLOW HOFFMAN, Homer resident, opposed CSSB 310.  All uses of the           
 forest have been swept aside in the attempt to extract timber and             
 there is no benefit to the state to enter into forest management              
 agreements, he said.                                                          
 KATHY SMITH, Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, still opposed SB              
 310.  They remain concerned with the long term contracts and FMAs             
 which have not been successful elsewhere.  They are a very                    
 inefficient way of managing timber resources.  The rotation period            
 on regeneration time of second growth forest in Alaska is 80 or 120           
 years plus, so there is no incentive for timber companies to make             
 any investment in reforestation under FMAs.  Basically SB 310 gives           
 the timber to timber barons and the Alaska Forest Association.                
 LARRY SMITH, Homer resident, said he was a member of the Forest               
 Practices Review Steering Committee.  He said there are some things           
 in SB 310 that shake the Agreement.  He said large timber sales               
 tend to make timber less available to the small guys.  The                    
 provision in the state law requiring primary processing of round              
 logs fell to a constitutional challenge.  He suggested getting a              
 good legal analysis of the FMAs and how they would work in the                
 U.S., because Canadian law is totally different from American law             
 on questions like this.  Otherwise, our experience with the four              
 large timber sales in the state have all been disasters.                      
 He noted there are some improvements in the new version of the                
 bill, but there are also somethings wrong.  Section 1 needs to                
 assert that coastal districts need notice of proposed sales.                  
 Although in section 2, 1 million board feet per region might be a             
 good  cap, 500,000 board feet is too large to allow in a negotiated           
 timber sale in the Division of Forestry.                                      
  TAPE 94-24, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 549                                                                   
 DIANE JENKINS, Tok Chamber of Commerce, said the Tanana Valley                
 Basin is comprised of over 29 million acres, roughly 15 million               
 owned by the state, 10 million owned by the feds, and 2.3 million             
 are owned by native communities.  They are talking about                      
 approximately 1.5 million acres to be harvested and managed.  There           
 are still 27.5 million acres left in the Basin, using just 5% for             
 timber harvest.  She didn't think they would be cutting out the               
 small scale companies by letting the bigger companies cut the                 
 larger tracts.  She supported CSSB 310.                                       
 TED CHARLES, Tok resident, supported the CSSB 310, because it would           
 provide more jobs for the Tanana Valley.                                      
 JOE YOUNG, Young's Timber, Inc., supported SB 310.  He said the               
 world wide environmental concept calls for sustainable utilization            
 which is what SB 310 does.                                                    
 BYRON BONDURANT, retired agricultural civil engineer and educator,            
 said he spent considerable time in international development.  He             
 felt the proposed CSSB 310 was just cosmetic, and still flawed in             
 content and context.  It is not a management development bill, but            
 merely a giveaway bill.  There is nothing value added about it.  He           
 said it will do nothing but create a few temporary jobs and line              
 the pockets of big business.                                                  
 VESTA LEIGH, Kenai resident, asked if the uses in section 1 were              
 listed in manner of importance.  MR. BOUTIN said there was no                 
 priority.  She thought SB 310 was a poor representation for all the           
 people of Alaska.  It would make a few people very rich and give              
 others jobs, but the whole population would be losing.                        
 AL GILLIAM, Haines resident and member of the Alaska Wilderness,              
 Recreation, and Tourism Association, said his business revolves               
 around guiding a variety of people into and around the Haines State           
 Forest.  His business would be severely impacted by passing SB 310.           
 He said it pulls the rug out from under people who have built their           
 businesses based on the multiple use of our lands.                            
 Statistics show a direct link between the amount of timber removed            
 from the Chilkat Valley and a sharp decline in the number of                  
 subsistence harvested moose and fur animals from the Haines forest,           
 MR. GILLIAM said.                                                             
 CLAIR SOLIMAN, testifying from Haines, said she didn't see how they           
 could hold a hearing on something without adequate notice.                    
 BART HENDERSON, Chilkat Guides, said he was concerned there would             
 be local input into any long term large scale sales.                          
 Number 389                                                                    
 GRETCHEN GOLDSTEIN, Port Protection, said the proposed CSSB 310 is            
 still not acceptable for our state needs.  Section 2 on page 2                
 should be omitted, because the public should review all timber                
 sales regardless of size.  The state should not enter into any long           
 term Forest Management Agreements.                                            
 MIKE MORTELL, Sumner Straits Fish and Game Advisory Committee, said           
 they voted unanimously to oppose SB 310. Their main concern would             
 be destruction of local salmon streams and wildlife habitat.  He              
 said there's hardly anything left on the lower end of Prince of               
 Wales Island where he lives.  What little fringe they have left is            
 used for subsistence and fishing.  He said this bill wouldn't                 
 create any jobs for their community.  A bunch of guys had come up             
 from Oregon and logged Prince of Wales and then they went home                
 leaving the residents with the aftermath.                                     
 MIKE WALLERI, General Counsel for Tanana Chief's Counsel, and Chris           
 Maisch, Director of their Forestry Program, joined the Committee.             
 MR. WALLERI said the CS addressed a number of the issues raised in            
 their earlier testimony.  It reinstates multiple use designations,            
 it protects private land from trespass by timber access roads, it             
 reinstates the mandated planning processes for areas covered by               
 area and forest plans, it continues the avenues of public input               
 into the forest planning process.  Additionally, the inclusion of             
 a number of considerations the Commissioner must weigh in the                 
 evaluation of FMA's is in some ways an improvement over existing              
 law providing for greater protections of other uses, in particular            
 the protection of subsistence habitat and those types of issues.              
 They still have a few concerns regarding sustained yield, notice on           
 the small tracts, and emergency sales coordination of the timber              
 sales and state processing, below cost sales, consistency with                
 local government plans, and the length and deactivation of the                
 MR. WALLERI explained a 20 year length for FMAs is probably                   
 appropriate given the fact that plant equipment will be fully                 
 depreciated in 10 - 15 years.  The extension of another 20 years              
 has some negative downside in that it actually subsidizes fully               
 depreciated equipment and plants, as a disincentive to future                 
 investment in the industry.  The only reason for a 40 year                    
 agreement would be to pass on an FMA to your children which isn't             
 really a sound policy.                                                        
 The bill does not deal with deactivation of an FMA in any detail.             
 They are very concerned that there will be residual obligations               
 after the term of the FMA, like reforestation, stabilization, and             
 monitoring.  They think the bill should specifically authorize and            
 require that the provisions of the FMA address those concerns and             
 specifically authorize the Department to require a bond as a method           
 for insuring residual obligations are met under an FMA.                       
 MR. WALLERI said that they continue to be concerned about an FMA              
 resulting in a below cost sale which is just not economic sense.              
 The FMA should require that they pay for themselves and they not              
 result in a net loss of revenue to the state.                                 
 MR. MAISCH specifically addressed the sustained yield issue.  The             
 bill continues to define sustained yield to allow harvest on a                
 declining yield basis as defined currently in Title 41.  Interior             
 forest operations require longer rotation cycles than in the                  
 coastal forests and they feel that sustained yield should be                  
 defined as "even flow."  Such harvest may adversely affect coastal            
 harvest, so they propose amending the definition of sustained yield           
 as it relates to just the Tanana Valley State Forest lands and to             
 use the definition used by the Society of American Foresters:                 
 "Sustained yield shall mean the yield that a forest can produce               
 continuously at a given intensity of management providing                     
 continuous production so planned to achieve at the earliest                   
 practical time a balance between increment and cutting."                      
 They believe the state should continue to give notice (page 2, line           
 18) to local communities on small sales.                                      
 On page 4, line 4 of the CS the greatest advantage of FMAs to local           
 communities and the industry is they would allow coordination of              
 timber sales and encourage instate timber processing.  Neither                
 factor is considered by the Commissioner in evaluating FMA                    
 proposals.  They believe these criteria should be included in the             
 factors to be considered in the actual evaluation process, MR.                
 MAISCH said.                                                                  
 Number 217                                                                    
 SENATOR ZHAROFF asked if the proposed definition of sustained yield           
 would reflect on lands in the Tanana Valley State Forest only.  MR.           
 MAISCH answered yes.  SENATOR ZHAROFF asked if they do support this           
 bill now.  MR. MAISCH answered that they were clearly opposed to              
 the first bill, but they haven't formally developed a position on             
 the CS.  The sustained yield issue is probably the most critical to           
 TABITHA GREGORY, Ketchikan resident representing the Alaska                   
 Environmental Lobby, opposed SB 310, because FMAs or negotiated               
 long term contracts effectively reduce public oversite on large               
 tracts on state forested lands.  FMAs favor a large scale timber              
 industry dominated by a single company over a more diversified                
 timber industry shared by numerous smaller companies.  This makes             
 the Alaskan economy more vulnerable to the boom and bust cycles.              
 This bill disregards many other uses of forest land.  The state has           
 an obligation to protect the other activities.  She said that                 
 Alaskans have worked hard to expand their economic base.  Why at              
 this point are some individuals encouraging our timber industry to            
 move backwards away from diversification and into a single product            
 market, she asked.  If a large business comes in and gets the                 
 community to rely on it and then has to close for some reason, as             
 with the mill in Sitka, the community then again has big problems,            
 she stated.                                                                   
  TAPE 94-25, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
 ROBERT MIKOL said he was concerned with the FMAs and long term                
 contracts, because they could very well lock up multi-land use.               
 People in the interior feel the bill will threaten wildlife                   
 habitat, because trees in the interior are slow growing.  Much of             
 the land is easily accessible by road and are prime grounds for               
 subsistence, hunting, etc.  This bill does nothing to support                 
 sustainable jobs.  These are generally considered low scale, low              
 wage, and unattractive jobs.  The Department of Labor reports that            
 approximately 40% of these jobs go to non-resident workers.                   
 RANDY MAYO, Chief, Stevens Village Counsel, testified against SB              
 310 and amendments for all the reasons mentioned.  He said the                
 Tanana Valley is already heavily impacted by the Haul Road.  There            
 is little regard for the people who live there or the resources.              
 RONNIE ROSENBERG, Fairbanks resident, said that SB 310 ties the               
 Commissioner's hands by mandating the development of commercial               
 forest land under principles of sustained yield as a priority.  She           
 said FMAs don't work where they have been tried.  It is extremely             
 foolhardy to enter into something that will just perpetuate the               
 boom and bust economy.                                                        
 TERRY BRADY, Special Consultant Forester, supported CSSB 310.  He             
 would like it to require bonding in case there is a default in the            
 contract.  We are facing the worst disaster of the century with the           
 bark beetle infestation and SB 310 would give the state tools to              
 deal with it.                                                                 
 CARL PARKER, Resource Development Counsel, supported SB 310.  FMAs            
 are a desirable tool in accomplishing timber development.  It would           
 help diversify the timber industry.  The CS is a much stronger                
 version.  It is important to recognize that all provisions of the             
 Forest Practices Act, including fish habitat, water quality, and              
 buffer zone considerations would apply to the FMAs.                           
 KEN FREEMAN, Anchorage, supported SB 310, because it encourages               
 reasonable, responsible timber development, and increased long term           
 high paying jobs for Alaskan citizens in the forest industry.                 
 Forest Management Agreements are an example of good public policy,            
 because the government owner can dictate the specific conditions of           
 a timber harvest.  They also provide incentive for private industry           
 to invest in proper forest management and local manufacturing                 
 facilities while shifting the cost to the private sector.                     
 CLIFF EAMES, Alaska Center for the Environment, opposed CSSB 310.             
 FMAs are a 20-40 year lock up of a single resource for a single               
 purpose that is incompatible with most other uses.  They don't                
 think the purposes of the state forests should be changed.                    
 Emergency sales should not be exempt from the 5 year schedule                 
 requirements.  Regarding the spruce bark beetle infestation, he               
 said that has been exaggerated.  He said state biologists have been           
 telling us consistently that the impact of the beetle will have               
 little or no impact on the resources.                                         
 LOISANN REEDER, Susitna Valley Association, opposed both SB 310 and           
 CSSB 310.  Jeff Parker, Alaska Sportfishing Association and Trout             
 Unlimited, asked her to state for the record that his organization            
 opposes this legislation also.                                                
 MS. REEDER  said the CS addresses some of the concerns voiced at              
 previous hearings.  It still has 3 major areas of concern:  the               
 exemption of small sales from the 5 year schedule, use of FMAs, and           
 large scale long term timber harvesting.                                      
 JIM MINTON, Flat Horn Lake Property Owners Association, highlighted           
 some surveys and gave the Committee an overview of the Susitna                
 Guideline Project.  Participants cited importance of the recreation           
 and tourism industry to the Valley economy and quality of life.  He           
 asked how many times the public had to keep saying there is no                
 question that FMAs advance timber harvesting as a priority use of             
 the land.                                                                     
 Number 340                                                                    
 JIM SEELY, Redshirt Landowners Association, opposed SB 310 and CSSB           
 310.  He testified that this legislation is so important that it              
 should go back to the voters.  Town meetings should be held and               
 people should be asked if this is what they want in their forest.             
 JIM PAGE, Seward Forest Products, said that FMAs work.  He has seen           
 them work in Canada, Sweden, and Norway.  He said the mill in                 
 Seward has yet to receive any state wood.  He supported CSSB 310,             
 because it starts to manage the state's forest resources which are            
 renewable.  Under section 2 (c) he didn't see the reason to have a            
 1 million board foot threshold.  It should be based on the                    
 biological needs of the forest.                                               
 DARYL DOUTENT, Anchorage, opposed SB 310 and CSSB 310.  The effect            
 in either case will be of increasing timber harvest at the expense            
 of other uses.  Any large scale expansion or long term contracts              
 are inappropriate.                                                            
 RON BROOKS, Fairbanks, said beetle kill forests do have an effect             
 on hunting, fishing, recreation, and tourism.  He said this bill is           
 excellent, because it does address forest health.  He said it is              
 just the first step toward economic development in the Tanana                 
 DEBBIE MILLER, Fairbanks resident, opposed CSSB 310.  She was                 
 against 20 year FMAs.  Looking at Canadian statistics, 65% of the             
 boreal zone in Canada have been logged.  50% of those logged areas            
 have not regenerated.  We are considerably farther north than                 
 northern Alberta and she questioned whether clear cutting is right.           
 ALBERT PAGH, Fairbanks, said he has been in the sawmill and logging           
 business for 24 years.  He supported CSSB 310.  He thought local              
 industry was protected in the bill. He thought there should be a              
 bond requirement equal to at least three years of reforestation.              
 LANE THOMPSON, Civil Engineer, said he was in favor of a healthy              
 sustainable logging industry in the interior.  He said he would               
 like to have more time for public comment on this important issue.            
 He thought they needed an inventory of the state timber before                
 making any decisions.                                                         
 JAN DAWE, Fairbanks resident, said she needed more time to study              
 the bill and to receive feedback from the forestry professionals              
 she has contacted.  She said the CS is an improvement over the                
 original bill.  She is still concerned with the public process.               
 She does oppose the CS to SB 310, because it favors FMAs and makes            
 production of commercial timber the higher purpose of a state                 
 SEAN MCGUIRE, Fairbanks, said people need more time to figure this            
 bill out.                                                                     
  TAPE 94-25, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 580                                                                   
 He said there is a very strong negative reaction to large scale               
 clear cuts in the interior.  This bill is specifically tailored to            
 open the door to large scale clear cutting.  MR. MCGUIRE said 20              
 year contracts is the key to letting in the large timber                      
 corporations.  There is a lot of support for small scale local                
 timber harvest, but the division comes when they talk about large             
 scale cutting.                                                                
 GABE RODEN, Delta Junction, said they needed more time to consider            
 the CS.  There are still a lot of things they can't accept in the             
 Substitute bill.  She said they needed to remember the timber that            
 will be harvested on University and Mental Health lands and add               
 that to what will be harvested under SB 310.  The forest needs to             
 be managed for multiple purposes.  Sustained yield should meet                
 present needs and those of generations to come.  Timber cutting               
 should go to local residents.  Low cost contracts on timber should            
 be eliminated.  There should be continued use of existing trails              
 and access routes within state forest for subsistence use.                    
 Number 524                                                                    
 DOUGLAS YATES, Ester resident, appreciated the opportunity to                 
 testify, but he saw little to recommend this effort to mandate                
 large scale logging in the state forest.  Opening forests to FMAs             
 will promote a level of harvest that will in all probability                  
 squeeze small loggers out of the market.  This legislation favors             
 powerful outside interests over those Alaskans that are currently             
 making a living from Alaska's resources.  He asked if they had                
 given any consideration to the burgeoning population in Alaska's              
 villages or to what will occur when subsistence resources are                 
 reduced in the areas of logging clear cuts. The provision for                 
 public input appears in a superficial way with no real powers to              
 affect decisions on the way areas are cut.  The bill gives the                
 Commissioner complete discretion to make decisions regardless of              
 public comment.                                                               
 Number 486                                                                    
 LARRY PAQUID, Fairbanks resident, said FMAs still concentrate too             
 much power in the hands of the Commissioner of the Department of              
 Natural Resources, a politically appointed position.  SB 310 makes            
 development of commercial forests the most important use locking              
 out all the other uses.  He thought the exempt emergency sales                
 needed to be defined.                                                         
 Number 465                                                                    

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