Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/28/2003 03:33 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
         SB  88-FOREST RESOURCES & PRACTICES STANDARDS                                                                      
MR. BRIAN HOVE, staff to Senator Seekins, sponsor of SB 88, gave                                                                
the following sponsor statement.                                                                                                
     This bill revises the  riparian management standards of                                                                    
     the Forest  Resources Practices  Act (FRPA)  for Region                                                                    
     III by  strengthening protection  for fish  habitat and                                                                    
     water  quality in  a manner  that continues  to support                                                                    
     both the timber and fishing industries.                                                                                    
     The current  standards for Region  III were  adopted as                                                                    
     an interim  measure in  the 1990  revision of  the Act.                                                                    
     Under these  standards, harvesting can occur  up to the                                                                    
     bank of  anadromous waters on  both public  and private                                                                    
     land  under some  conditions. With  the proposed  bill,                                                                    
     all anadromous and high-value  resident fish waters are                                                                    
     classified and  riparian standards are  established for                                                                    
     each classification.                                                                                                       
     The  requirements are  tailored to  the characteristics                                                                    
     and  fish habitat  needs  of each  stream  type. A  no-                                                                    
     harvest buffer will be required  on most anadromous and                                                                    
     high-value   resident  fish   waters.  However,   along                                                                    
     glacial rivers  where some of the  most valuable timber                                                                    
     occurs, the standards  allow harvest of up  to half the                                                                    
     large white spruce in the  landward half of the buffer.                                                                    
     This allows landowners to capture  some of the economic                                                                    
     value within  the riparian  areas while  keeping enough                                                                    
     large trees to provide woody debris.                                                                                       
     This bill  is not a  wholesale revision of the  Act. It                                                                    
     has   substantive  changes   for  riparian   management                                                                    
     standards applying to Region  III only. Other technical                                                                    
     revisions    include   changes    to   the    statewide                                                                    
     nomenclature   for  water   body  classes   to  prevent                                                                    
     confusion  between   water  body  types   in  different                                                                    
     regions. The  bill also  moves definitions  of regional                                                                    
     boundaries from the regulations to  the Act and makes a                                                                    
     minor  change to  the regional  boundary  on the  Kenai                                                                    
     Peninsula  to  better   match  the  difference  between                                                                    
     forest types.  Most forestland in the  affected area is                                                                    
     in federal  ownership, so there will  be minimal impact                                                                    
     on other landowners.                                                                                                       
     SB  88  helps ensure  that  the  FRPA continues  to  be                                                                    
     certified for  compliance with federal Clean  Water Act                                                                    
     and  coastal zone  management requirements.  This means                                                                    
     that the  Act continues to provide  'one-stop shopping'                                                                    
     for  the  timber industry  with  respect  to state  and                                                                    
     federal   non-point   source  pollution   and   coastal                                                                    
     management standards.                                                                                                      
     This  bill is  founded  on the  best science  available                                                                    
     including an extensive review  of existing research and                                                                    
     recommendations  of  an   interdisciplinary  Science  &                                                                    
     Technical    Committee.    The    committee    included                                                                    
     experienced  field   staff  from  the   state  resource                                                                    
     agencies and  private sector as well  as the University                                                                    
     of Alaska and federal scientists.                                                                                          
MR. HOVE  offered to  answer questions and  noted Mr.  Jahnke was                                                               
present and Marty Freeman was on line to answer questions.                                                                      
CHAIR OGAN asked Mr. Jahnke to testify.                                                                                         
MR.  JEFF   JAHNKE,  Director  of   the  Division   of  Forestry,                                                               
Department of  Natural Resources (DNR) and  the presiding officer                                                               
for the Board  of Forestry, gave the following  background on how                                                               
this legislation was developed.                                                                                                 
     This bill is a response  to a Board of Forestry request                                                                    
     to review  the Forest Practices  Act in 1996.  We began                                                                    
     that review  in Region 1,  which is the  coastal region                                                                    
     that encompasses  most of coastal  Alaska. This  is the                                                                    
     second step. That actually resulted  in a change to the                                                                    
     Forest Practices Act in 1999.                                                                                              
     The second step of that -  we moved to the Interior and                                                                    
     this  review  was  completed...in  2001.  This  is  the                                                                    
     second  session  that   this  bill  has  been...brought                                                                    
     forward.   We   really   thank  Senator   Seekins   for                                                                    
     sponsoring this bill.                                                                                                      
CHAIR OGAN commented this bill is  the result of a consensus that                                                               
was worked out.                                                                                                                 
MR. JAHNKE noted members of  the fishing industry, fish, wildlife                                                               
and  timber scientists,  and the  environmental community  agreed                                                               
upon this bill. He continued:                                                                                                   
     This bill was developed the  same way the Region 1 was.                                                                    
     We started with a  science committee basically that put                                                                    
     together   the  science   of  catching   the  fisheries                                                                    
     management  and  riparian  zone  management.  Following                                                                    
     that, an implementation group was  put together to look                                                                    
     at the  results of  a science group  to make  sure that                                                                    
     things  could be  done on  the ground  - that  it would                                                                    
     actually work.  In following that, of  course the Board                                                                    
     of  Forestry reviewed  it at  length and  what's before                                                                    
     you is pretty much the result of all three reviews.                                                                        
     A  couple of  important points  - it's  a science-based                                                                    
     bill. It's  a science-based proposal. It  has very good                                                                    
     scientific background and it  has, like I said earlier,                                                                    
     [the support] of a broad  range of industry, fisheries,                                                                    
     environmental groups, the Board of Forestry, etcetera.                                                                     
     This act does  three things to help ensure  the goal of                                                                    
     the Forest  Practices Act.  First it  provides adequate                                                                    
     protection  for  fish  habitat  in  water  quality  and                                                                    
     supports  the continuation  of healthy  timber and  the                                                                    
     fishing industry.  Second it  helps to ensure  that the                                                                    
     Forest   Practices   Act   meets  the   water   quality                                                                    
     requirements  in the  Clean Water  Act  in the  coastal                                                                    
     zone  management act  and  that's  very important.  The                                                                    
     third  item that's  probably worth  mentioning is  this                                                                    
     bill is, as you heard  Marty mention earlier, this bill                                                                    
     is a  one-stop shop  for forestry activities.  It meets                                                                    
     the requirements of  the coastal zone, if  in fact they                                                                    
     meet  forest  practices,  and  these  changes  help  to                                                                    
     ensure that that continues to be the case.                                                                                 
     Having said that, with the  Chair's permission, I'd ask                                                                    
     Marty to  go into  the specifics and  then we  can take                                                                    
     questions then or we can do it now.                                                                                        
CHAIR OGAN  noted that  he does  not plan  to move  SB 88  out of                                                               
committee today  and that he would  like to give priority  to the                                                               
people who signed up to testify.                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  asked if SB 88  is a replica of  last session's HB                                                               
MR. JAHNKE said it is.                                                                                                          
CHAIR OGAN took public testimony.                                                                                               
MR.  ALBERT PAGH  told  members he  and his  son  have owned  and                                                               
operated 4 Star Lumber in Fairbanks  for 33 years. His father had                                                               
portable  mills so  he spent  his  childhood days  living in  the                                                               
forest. He  said he can  see no  reason for this  legislation. If                                                               
the purpose of  SB 88 is to reduce erosion,  he has observed that                                                               
if trees  are left up  to a stream bank,  the soil under  them is                                                               
worse off. The stream undercuts  the tree, pulling the back roots                                                               
and a  lot of  soil from  the bank.  When trees  are cut  the sun                                                               
exposure  allows new  plants to  grow, establishing  root systems                                                               
and  stabilizing the  bank.  [Much of  Mr.  Pagh's testimony  was                                                               
inaudible due to transmission problems.]                                                                                        
MR. RICK  SMERIGLIO of Seward  stated support  for SB 88.  He has                                                               
been a  member of the Board  of Forestry for over  five years and                                                               
watched this bill develop from  an idea. He thanked the agencies,                                                               
particularly the  Division of Forestry  and Alaska  Department of                                                               
Fish  and Game  (ADF&G),  for all  of the  work  they did.  Local                                                               
residents of  the Interior had  an opportunity to  provide input.                                                               
He said  HB 131 came  close to passing  the Senate last  year but                                                               
the Senate  ran out of  time. He said  most of the  testimony the                                                               
committee will hear  will be supportive of SB 88.  He pointed out                                                               
the  Board  of   Forestry  is  on  record  in   support  of  this                                                               
legislation.  The requirement  to  have buffer  zones has  gained                                                               
acceptance  in Southeast  Alaska  because they  protect fish  and                                                               
other riparian  values. He believes  it is  a good idea  to apply                                                               
the  buffer zone  requirement  to northern  waters.  He said  the                                                               
Board of  Forestry has taken  tours of  the affected area  in the                                                               
Interior. He has  seen areas that have been logged  to the stream                                                               
bank  and areas  with buffer  zones. He  believes the  areas with                                                               
buffer zones are  better served. He stated support for  SB 88 and                                                               
asked members to take action on it as soon as possible.                                                                         
CHAIR OGAN agreed  that buffer zones are good. He  said years ago                                                               
he was  concerned about the  woody debris  in a creek  behind his                                                               
home but was told by ADF&G that it provides good fish habitat.                                                                  
MR. ERIC  PYNE told members  he has  been involved in  the timber                                                               
industry in Fairbanks since 1979.                                                                                               
CHAIR   OGAN  called   an  at-ease   to  address   teleconference                                                               
transmission problems.                                                                                                          
MR. PYNE  continued his  testimony. He has  been involved  in the                                                               
planning process.  During that process,  ADF&G stated  the buffer                                                               
zones would  simply be a starting  point and not an  end-all. The                                                               
Division of Forestry  assured him that the buffer  zones would be                                                               
in regulation and  not just a starting point. As  long as that is                                                               
the fact, he supports the bill as written.                                                                                      
MS. LESLIE  GUSTAFSON, Salcha, said she  is an owner of  a timber                                                               
harvesting  business. Her  husband  has harvested  on the  Tanana                                                               
River and  lived there since  1968. They have been  watching this                                                               
bill  progress. They  support  SB  88 as  is.  She explained  her                                                               
concern is  that different segments  have come to the  table; she                                                               
does not want to see special  interest groups come along and stop                                                               
logging.  She would  like to  see  regulations in  place so  that                                                               
loggers  do  not  have  to  address each  and  every  harvest  or                                                               
redefine plans.  She said  she is  a board  member of  the Alaska                                                               
Forest Association.  She believes SB 88  will provide consistency                                                               
across the state.                                                                                                               
MR.  ROBERT OTT,  Tanana Chiefs  Conference  (TCC), told  members                                                               
that TCC  supports SB  88. This legislation  represents a  lot of                                                               
work  by many  different  groups. It  protects  fish habitat  and                                                               
water quality standards mandated by the Forest Practices Act.                                                                   
TAPE 03-35, SIDE A                                                                                                            
MR. JAMES V. DREW, testifying  from Fairbanks, said he recommends                                                               
favorable action  by the  legislature on  SB 88.  He said  he has                                                               
watched  the changes  in the  forestry issues  in Alaska  over 20                                                               
years  as director  of the  Agriculture  and Forestry  Experiment                                                               
Station at  the University  of Alaska.  He has  also served  as a                                                               
member  and  chair  of  the   Alaska  Reforestation  Council.  He                                                               
explained  that  riparian  areas   in  Alaska's  forests  are  of                                                               
interest  to foresters,  fishermen,  and  wildlife managers.  The                                                               
lack of  reasonable standards for forest  management within these                                                               
riparian areas has led to  inefficiencies in managing these areas                                                               
for wildlife habitat  and timber production. SB  88 was developed                                                               
from   input    from   two   different   working    groups:   the                                                               
interdisciplinary  science  and   technical  committee;  and  the                                                               
implementation  committee, which  involved  a lot  of people  and                                                               
discussion.  The  Board of  Forestry  established  both of  those                                                               
committees. He said  the bottom line is that SB  88 meets habitat                                                               
requirements  for fish  and allows  limited  harvesting of  white                                                               
spruce and buffer  strips to capture some of  the economic values                                                               
within riparian  zones. Last year, HB  131 underwent considerable                                                               
review  by  the  natural  resources committee  of  the  Fairbanks                                                               
Chamber  of Commerce.  That committee  recommended  the bill.  He                                                               
strongly supports SB 88.                                                                                                        
MS.  JAN  DAWE, Alaska  Boreal  Forest  Council director,  stated                                                               
support  for  SB  88  because it  represents  such  an  exemplary                                                               
process. It provides  industry and the entire  community with the                                                               
confidence  that the  Forest Practices  Act is  being competently                                                               
administered for conditions  specific to the region  north of the                                                               
Alaska Range.                                                                                                                   
MR. CHRIS STARK, a fisheries  biologist on the Board of Forestry,                                                               
told members he is also  representing the environmental community                                                               
on  the  Tanana   Valley  State  Forest.  He  said   he  is  also                                                               
representing   and  working   for   the   Bering  Sea   Fisheries                                                               
Association, Yukon  River Fisheries Development  Association, and                                                               
a  few   other  small  non-profit  organizations.   He  said  his                                                               
associations are happy to support  this bill primarily because it                                                               
is scientifically  based and establishes a  buffer zone. However,                                                               
the  environmental  community would  like  a  larger buffer  zone                                                               
requirement. SB 88 was a good compromise.                                                                                       
CHAIR OGAN  announced that with  no further  participants, public                                                               
testimony was  closed. He  said that normally  he would  hold the                                                               
bill  in committee  longer but  this  bill was  reviewed by  both                                                               
bodies  last year  so he  would  be willing  to move  SB 88  from                                                               
committee today.                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS said  this bill  made it  through the  House and                                                               
Senate committees last  year, but in the rush to  adjourn, it was                                                               
not  scheduled for  a floor  vote in  the Senate.  It had  almost                                                               
unanimous  support throughout  the entire  process. The  concerns                                                               
expressed  are questions  that need  to be  addressed after  more                                                               
information  is gathered,  such as  harvesting trees  close to  a                                                               
stream bank.  He said the  intent of the  bill is to  provide for                                                               
planned,  orderly  growth and  development  in  concert with  the                                                               
principles  of  good stewardship.  His  intent  is to  build  the                                                               
timber industry in a responsible manner.                                                                                        
SENATOR  DYSON  moved  SB  88   from  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and attached fiscal note(s).                                                                                    
SENATOR LINCOLN objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                         
SENATOR  SEEKINS  said   that  rather  than  hold   the  bill  in                                                               
committee, he is willing to  look at revisions to the legislation                                                               
farther down the line.                                                                                                          
SENATOR  WAGONER expressed  concern about  the word  "prudent" on                                                               
page 2,  line 31, and asked  who will determine what  is or isn't                                                               
MR.  JAHNKE  informed members  that  an  intense discussion  took                                                               
place  about  the word  "prudent"  when  Region 1  was  reviewed.                                                               
"Prudent"  is   determined  by  the   Division  of   Forestry  in                                                               
consultation with the other agencies.                                                                                           
SENATOR LINCOLN  noted the word  "prudent" is defined on  page 3,                                                               
line 26.  She then  noted that  members were told  that SB  88 is                                                               
identical to  HB 131.  She asked  if HB 131  was amended  when it                                                               
went through the legislative process last year.                                                                                 
MR. JAHNKE said it was not amended.                                                                                             
SENATOR LINCOLN  pointed out the  definition of "prudent"  in the                                                               
bill is not helpful because  the definition uses terminology that                                                               
is not  firm. She  then withdrew  her objection  to moving  SB 88                                                               
from committee, therefore the motion carried.                                                                                   

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