Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/24/1994 03:40 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 3:40 p.m. and announced SB 310 (STATE/PRIVATE/MUNI TIMBER OPERATION/SALE) to be up for consideration. GREG MAHACHECK, Fairbanks, supported SB 310. He said when you fly across the state there are plenty of areas that look like they are clear cut, so there's nothing new about that. Also, our growing cycle here is much quicker than in California, about 80 - 100 years. He thought more public process should be involved and then he would be able to support this bill. JAMES DREW, Fairbanks, supported CSSB 310. He thought it would bring many job opportunities and social benefits for Alaskans. An expanded forest industry can provide alternative jobs to replace those that are eliminated by reduction of the state budget, he said. WILLIAM GREEN, Fairbanks resident for 48 years, said timber is like any other living resource in that there is a time when its highest and best use is to be harvested to make way for new plantings. The science of sustained yield management is well developed and should be utilized in Alaska's forests as well as all other states. He supported SB 310, because it will create new jobs for our community and diversify our economy. It should also increase the local tax base to help offset the decline in the state budget. PAMELA HELD, Fairbanks small business owner, supported SB 310. We need responsible development of our natural resources in this state in an environment of cooperation and harmony. Resource development must be a top priority, he said. ROBERT HULL, Fairbanks resident for 15 years, said timber is one of the renewable resources we have and he favored SB 310, because it helps develop those renewable resources. STEVE PECHECK, Fairbanks resident for 20 years, opposed SB 310, because it makes multiple use of the state forests secondary. The 20 year agreements are too long. He thought the key to a good economy is staying local. He cautioned that in so many cases where large outside enterprises are encouraged by the government, resources are used so easily that wise usage is often passed by. JOHN FAUCHER, Fairbanks, commented that he didn't agree with the environmental testimony he had heard regarding clear cutting. FRED HEFLINGER, Fairbanks, supported SB 310 in its original form. The CS has so much public input that the environmentalists could stop it. Soon the trees in the Tanana forest will be so big that they will start to fall over, so they should be harvested. He wanted big business to come in. CARL ROSENBERG, Fairbanks, said he is a local woodworker and a 15 year Alaskan resident. He was concerned with FMAs, public appeals, and closing out small local responsible users of timber resources. He viewed incredible waste made by large scale timber harvest practices. He would like to see a bill that would support local businesses that use our resources wisely. SARAH JAMES, Arctic Village, believed in small scale logging because it favors indigenous peoples. She opposed long term logging, because it is another way for outsiders to come in and take what they need and then leave. DAVE LACEY, Fairbanks, said SB 310 was another nail in the coffin or rural Alaska, because as more roads and more developers and more outsiders are brought in, it's going to destroy the subsistence economy. He asked them to please protect the jobs already here and the subsistence economy which, although they have a cultural basis, are jobs, nevertheless. Number 341 HUGH DOOGAN, Fairbanks, said he was 54 years old and was born and raised in the state of Alaska. He was raised on subsistence and had seen logging in the territorial days in southeastern Alaska. He said the south end of Douglas Island has a lot of big beautiful trees which had been cleared off at one time by the mining industry, because they used acid to clean the gold claims. Mother nature does bring back the resources, he said. He supported SB 310, but he had a problem on page 3 where he recommended deleting "includes compatible traditional use", because traditional uses go in and out. He also would like to see clarification of wildlife habitats. SENATOR LEMAN noted that the definition of wildlife habitats used in SB 310 is in existing law in Title 38. COLIN READ, Fairbanks, said he supported a diversified economy, but he did not want our resources to go to outsiders. He thought they should consider the far reaching implications of this bill. He said Alaskan based operations are much more beneficial to our economy. With this bill, a lot of the interests will be coming from outside. Very little of the income from the resources will be staying inside Alaska which concerns him a great deal. He requested hearings on this issue in Fairbanks so they can get a true sense of what the public wishes. Number 424 PAM WEBSTER, Fairbanks resident for 17 years, said she had been in this room 4 times now. This time she did not want to talk about the reasons they don't like SB 310. She is concerned with Senator Frank's comment that some people don't want sustainable timber harvest, no matter what, a comment she had read in the paper after the first few hearings. She noted that the ratio was 3 to 1 against SB 310 which is a lot of people, not just some. She said she believed in jobs and had to work for a living like all the other people in the room, but she didn't think we need to degrade the environment to do it. SB 310 is the quick and easy way to make money. TED SWEN, Fairbanks, said the last three mornings on his way to work he saw trucks carrying logs. This means to him that SB 310 is not essential to the development of a forest product industry in this area since it's already started. The issue is really whether FMAs and 20 year contracts are the appropriate tool to use in the development of these resources. He didn't think there was accurate data on the impact of large scale logging on fish and wildlife resources which are extremely important to a lot of Alaskans. MR. SWEN objected to the language in section 5 of the CS which was amended to read "that the primary purpose of state forested land is the development of commercial forest lands under the principles of sustained yield, etc." He felt it inappropriate for the legislature, a small group of short term representatives, to reprioritize the relative value of the myriad of forest resources that occur on our land. A shift in priorities requires careful thought and everyone should be involved in it. MR. SWEN said he was concerned with Senator Frank's comment from a local paper saying he was bewildered by the opposition to this bill, but that he was going to proceed anyhow. He noted that there had been a lot of articulate testimony against it, and there is nothing bewildering about it except that it hasn't been withdrawn in light of all the opposition. PHILLIP MARTIN, wildlife biologist of 15 years, opposed SB 310, because large scale logging has the potential to impact wildlife habitat like nothing else they have seen in the interior. Certain habitat like the high volume old growth spruce and poplar we could loose altogether in a 20 year contract. The process set up in SB 310 is set up to look on the surface like it requires consideration of wildlife habitat values, but the reality is that this form of management with long term contracts would far outstrip our knowledge of the impact. SYLVIA WARD, NAEC, Fairbanks, supported having hearings in Fairbanks on this issue of large scale timber development. There needs to be a cost benefit analysis of this proposed industry, she said. All of her efforts to research this issue have indicated it would result in an influx of new residents into their community and encourage raw log exports and unsustainable levels. There is a problem with out of state hire with this industry. 44% of timber employees come from outside Alaska. Public record indicates the state has not yet had a plausible experience with large volume contracts. LEONARD KIMERLING, Fairbanks resident for 25 years, said he was not opposed to resource development, because it is critical for the future of Alaska. SB 310 seems to do that in a very haphazard and rushed way which causes a bad public perception. He would like to see more study of the benefits and liabilities over a long period of time. Many people are just beginning to realize the impact of clear cutting on slow growth boreal forests. That is why there is such a broad coalition of people against this bill. It's not just an organization of extreme environmentalists. It's very much the opposite. He supported consensus from the public on this issue. Number 542 JOHN LOQUVAM, Fairbanks, said he has a small woodworking business. He supported the local mills and thought the wisdom of DNR's plan to increase timber harvest in the Tanana Valley was very debatable. It is irresponsible at best. SB 310 is a desperate attempt to ram an industry ready made down the throats of interior residents, he said. This is the type of development that will have very real and naked impacts on their outdoors. SB 310 sets us up for another chapter in the Alaskan saga of boom and bust. HILLARY SCHAEFER, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310 and CSSB 310 and is concerned about the speed it is being rushed through the legislature. One of the main problems with the bill is establishment of FMAs. Once a contract has been entered on, the public has no way to appeal its content. She saw a problem with the future control and abuse of our forests by commercial timber development companies. As of this moment our forests are being multiused, she said. If control is given to the large timber concerns, eventually forest habitat will be destroyed and livelihoods will be adversely impacted. SENATOR LEMAN noted that the bill was still in its first committee of referral and this was the fourth hearing they were having on it. MOLLY HUDSON, Fairbanks, said she is not a tree hugger or a bunny lover, but she likes to hunt and fish and likes to live in Alaska because of the opportunity she has as an Alaskan to take advantage of state natural resources in a respectable sustainable fashion. As an Alaskan she resents our resources being negotiated away to outsiders. She opposed the quiet negotiations of FMAs and the assumption she would happily accept the intrusion of corporate logging roads and its financial drain of large scale logging facilities. TAPE 94-28, SIDE B Number 580 Forest Management Agreements mean the end of multiple use, she said. HARRY PORTER, Fairbanks, supported SB 310. When he arrived here 43 years ago, he needed a job. Now he has 3 married children and he felt they and their offspring should be able to stay in Alaska, but they cannot stay here unless jobs are created. He has every confidence that the people trained in timber management, forestry, and environmental concerns can come to some agreement that can provide jobs for his children. He also noted that there is a lot of concern over this bill, but a lot of the people are at work and aren't able to testify. HAROLD GILLAM, Fairbanks, supported SB 310. He said he thought there was room for small and large timber companies, but we have been losing small timber companies, he said, and suggested investigating to find out why. EVA SAULITIS, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310, because it allows 20 years contracts and opens the forests up to large scale logging. She said some common ground among the people testifying is support of local loggers. They just can't agree on whether this bill will protect the local loggers or not. She feels that outside companies will come in and cut down large amounts of forest and leave less forest available for local loggers. She thinks the bill needs extensive hearings to get an accurate scoping of what public concerns. RICHARD HAYDEN, Fairbanks, said he used to be a subsistence hunter and fisherman. He opposed SB 310. He said there is no way Alaska can support large scale logging without being damaged in some way. Nobody wants a threadbare carpet, he said. Number 470 RICHARD MCCAFFREY, Fairbanks, said he has a masters degree in forestry science. He opposed SB 310, because it cuts the public out of the planning process. FMAs should be avoided he said in favor of small scale sustainable harvest operations reached by community consensus. TRISH WURTZ, Fairbanks, said she has a PHD in forest science from the University of Oregon. She supported the development of timber resources in Alaska. She supported clear cutting over other kinds of systems, and in certain situations she supports FMAs, but she doesn't support SB 310, because it is haphazardously written. More questions should be answered about the FMAs like where do they work well. Where and under what conditions have they not worked, how big do they have to be to be viable, etc. LOUISE SILET, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310. She said they needed to look at the ramifications of large scale, long term timber development and give people a chance to participate in this important decision on how we use our resources. MONICA GARZA, Fairbanks, opposed CSSB 310. The 20 year forest management agreements destroy the forest for present and future generations. SB 310 is short sighted. It does not look at the long term commercial, economic, and environmental consequences of clear cutting. MIKE PRAX, Fairbanks, supported SB 310. People in the Forestry Department do not have a vision of clear cutting the forest, but they see a need to harvest trees that are mature and falling down, etc. We need to do something other than just let the forests stand. SB 310 does not mandate one type of contract and we, as citizens, are not able to micromanage each individual contract. Number 316 ROBERT DAY, Fairbanks biologist, said he works on a lot of resources development problems all around Alaska. He said his main disagreement with SB 310 is that it's very bad business to change the primary purpose of state forest land from multiple use to commercial production of timber. It is also basically an end run around public input at the front end of a timber harvesting. Putting the sole jurisdiction of a sale in the hands of the Commissioner of DNR is not good either, because they are not elected. They are appointed - most likely because they are well- to-do businessmen. So their bias would be towards making money with the forests rather than looking at other uses. JACQUELINE D'AURIA, Fairbanks, opposed SB 310, because it clearly focuses on short term monetary gain for a few and long term decimation of the interior forests which support the livelihood and lifestyle of residents of many diverse backgrounds. BARBARA KELLY, Juneau resident, said she appreciated their attempts to deal with the public's concerns, but she couldn't support SB 310 or CSSB 310. She did not think sales of under 500,000 board feet should automatically be exempt from the requirements of Section 38.05.113. This is too large an amount for some regions of the state, because of the varying amounts of board feet per acre. She did not believe it was in the best interests of the people of Alaska to enter into such long terms contracts as allowed under the Forest Management Agreement Section. It eliminated the possibility of a continuing dialogue about and review of uses of particular areas of state forest land. Long term contracts benefits only those involved in the timber industry and no one else, she emphasized. MS. KELLY also disagreed with Section 41.17.200 as it has been amended. The primary purpose of state forests should not be the commercial development of forest land. This is in direct conflict with multiple use management. ANDREW ROMANA, South East Alaska Conservation Council, said that both the Ketchikan and Sitka 50 year monopoly logging contracts have caused a world of hurt. Unsustainable overcutting has and continued to liquidate the forest of its trees, jobs, money, and habitats that are the foundation of the economic well being of the 65,000 residents who call South East Alaska home. It is difficult to know what level of logging is truly sustainable on any forest. Last fall both Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service biologists announced that present logging levels will soon cause extinction of the goshawk, wolf, and brown bear for many areas of the Tongass National Forest, MR. ROMANA said. KATYA KIRSCH, Haines resident, said she lives in a house that was built with local timber from Haines. Many people in Haines support a modest wood products industry, she said. It's a question of appropriate scale for the wood products industry in Alaska. In Haines, long term contracts look like a bad idea. Timber sales should not run any longer than 3 - 5 years which is how they are run now, because facts change and inventories that seem scientifically correct have been found to be incorrect years later - often with less available timber than originally calculated. She commented, in relation to this, that the state needs to put a higher priority on its timber inventory data which by law is needed to harvest areas. MS. KIRSCH said if FMAs are institutionalized, that would be a bad public policy. If they are allowed, the public and other agencies should have more time for oversight than this bill allows. Page 3, line 10 must be changed to allow for at least 30 days and more like 90 days. Below cost timber sales should not be allowed. This has happened all over the state, because the state shouldn't be losing money subsidizing the removal of our forests. The state has been losing 90 cents on each dollar in recent years. She would like to see an economic analysis that shows why the proposed sales in the Fairbanks area will not lose money. Primary manufacture is also a problem. The court has ruled that state timber does not need any manufacture. It can be shipped out in the round. She didn't see why this provision would not be challenged again in court when an FMA is contracted. If the legislature insists on carrying through with this legislation, FMAs should be bonded for clean up and carry through. In Haines several million board feet were left on the ground because the contractor would have lost money transporting and selling that particular timber. Private companies are in business to make money, not to care for public resources, MS. KIRSCH said. It's important that DNR continue to manage public lands. Eliminating public and agency oversight of so-called emergency sales and of two yearly sales of less than 500,000 board feet in each region is bad public policy. SENATOR LEMAN asked if she thought all the ideas were bad public policy. MS. KIRSCH said that the majority of the bill has to do with long term contracts and FMAs and she didn't see any good coming out of that for the state's finances or the good of the people. SENATOR LEMAN commented that he thought they would have the ability within the FMAs to change quotas or other things that would allow forest lands to be managed for multiple use. MS. KIRSCH said she didn't think it likely and used the Tongass as a good example of where a certain amount of timber is guaranteed and then they found out later that there weren't as many tress in some areas as they thought. TAPE 94-29, SIDE A Number 001 She thought 3 - 5 years would be a much safer time span for being certain of the facts. SENATOR LEMAN said he would like to discuss this issue with his technical people and others.