Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

04/18/2005 03:30 PM RESOURCES


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03:34:55 PM Start
03:40:00 PM Confirmation Hearing: || Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (aogcc) - Cathy Forester
03:43:28 PM SB96
04:34:31 PM SB113
05:09:59 PM HB197
05:24:38 PM SB170
05:58:37 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Confirmation Hearing:
AOCGG Member - Cathy Forester
+= SB 96 UNIVERSITY LAND GRANT/STATE FOREST TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 96(RES) Out of Committee
+= SB 113 GULF OF ALASKA GROUNDFISH FISHERY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ SB 170 BD/DEPT OF FISH & GAME POWERS & DUTIES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 197 OIL SPILL EXEMPTIONS FOR GAS WELLS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 197(RLS) Out of Committee
         SB 170-BD/DEPT OF FISH & GAME POWERS & DUTIES                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WAGONER announced SB 170 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   SEEKINS,   sponsor,   said  SB   170   addresses   some                                                               
housekeeping issues  and then some substantive  ones. It provides                                                               
for  sale of  legally taken  trophy mounts  and certain  parts of                                                               
legally  taken  game animals  and  solves  the current  situation                                                               
where  a person  cannot buy  a trophy  mount in  Alaska, but  the                                                               
seller can take the mount  to Seattle and conduct the transaction                                                               
with the  buyer there. He  said there is  no real good  reason to                                                               
prohibit their  sale here  and allowing  it would  raise revenues                                                               
for the fish and game fund.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
It   also  provides   for  a   small   game-hunting  license   as                                                               
differentiated  from a  general hunting  license, which  would be                                                               
sold for $25. Some people don't  want to hunt big game, but would                                                               
like  small game  - particularly  non-residents. It  provides for                                                               
some  uniform  application  fees  ($7.50 across  the  board)  for                                                               
certain  hunting permits,  drawings and  stamps. Right  now there                                                               
are different  fees for a musk  ox than there are  for a caribou.                                                               
The  fees  are  meant  to  defer  100  percent  of  the  cost  of                                                               
processing the fees. If the  department needed additional fees to                                                               
do that, he would be willing to look at that number.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  said that  SB  170  also establishes  a  higher                                                               
degree of  accountability for the  use of monies within  the fish                                                               
and  game fund.  This fund  is  dedicated to  uses that  directly                                                               
benefit  those who  purchase hunting  and  fishing licenses.  The                                                               
fund currently  has only loose  internal guidelines as to  how it                                                               
is spent. SB  170 provides for new fees for  hunting and trapping                                                               
licenses and tags  and requires that the increases  in those fees                                                               
be used  to maximize management  for an abundance of  animals for                                                               
human consumption. Hunters have said  they are not willing to pay                                                               
more to harvest less.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
It  provides for  certain  predator control  for  bears in  areas                                                               
under  intensive   management  where   the  Board  of   Game  has                                                               
determined first  that bear predation  is a cause of  the problem                                                               
and  a  reduction  in  bears  would  reasonably  help  cure  that                                                               
problem.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:24:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS said  the next provision is a  brand new concept.                                                               
It provides  for a new  deferral fee  that is limited  to certain                                                               
areas  that  are   adjacent  to  or  very   near  state  wildlife                                                               
sanctuaries or national parks. When  the board authorizes permits                                                               
to  hunt bear  or wolf  in  these areas,  a person  could take  a                                                               
permit off  the table by paying  into the fish and  game fund the                                                               
maximum market  value the hunt  would otherwise  have contributed                                                               
to the  state economy. As  an example,  he used the  McNeil River                                                               
Sanctuary that has the McNeil River  preserve next to it. Part of                                                               
the reason  for the  preserve has always  been to  allow hunting.                                                               
Because it is  next to the McNeil River  Sanctuary, people always                                                               
try to make  the preserve part of the sanctuary.  This will allow                                                               
people  who  don't  want  bears  to  be  hunted  to  be  able  to                                                               
contribute to  the management of  the sanctuaries, which  are all                                                               
managed  from the  fish and  game fund,  by buying  a permit  and                                                               
taking it off the table for the year.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:27:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WAGONER asked how many areas are similar to McNeil River.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MATT ROBUS,  Director, Division of Wildlife  Conservation, Alaska                                                               
Department  of Fish  and  Game (ADF&G),  answered  Pack Creek  on                                                               
Admiralty Island,  the Katmai National  Park and  Denali National                                                               
Park.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  said this provision  would apply to  areas where                                                               
the bears have been habituated.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:28:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON  asked what  the definition of  animal parts  is as                                                               
used in section 52.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS replied  that its not meant for sale  of meat and                                                               
he wanted  to put an  amendment in the  bill saying that.  But he                                                               
has  no objection  to  saying that  a person  could  sell a  gall                                                               
bladder of a legally taken  bear. An affirmative defense would be                                                               
to show  that a  bear had  been consumed by  the same  person who                                                               
took it and sold the gall bladder.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WAGONER  said that he read  that the bottom has  fallen out                                                               
of the bear gall bladder market  because of Viagra and drugs like                                                               
it.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS  replied that sale  of bear  gall bladders is  legal in                                                               
some states,  but not most. He  did not think there  was a direct                                                               
link between sale  of Viagra and bear gall  bladders, because the                                                               
bladders have medicinal uses in addition to that.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:31:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON said it is a  common practice to trade King salmon,                                                               
for instance, for a roast of moose. It would be a barter.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:31:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SEEKINS said  there is  nothing  that he  knows of  that                                                               
would preclude a barter of that sort.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:31:48 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ROBUS responded  that he wanted to read  the regulations, but                                                               
he knows that it is a common practice.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  explained that he  understands the title  to the                                                               
fish  or game  animal  transfers  to the  owner  at  the time  of                                                               
harvest and  he would have the  right to share it  with anyone he                                                               
wanted to. The law could preclude its sale.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:32:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN asked him to talk about the proposed fees.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:32:41 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS responded  that the fees were proposed  to him by                                                               
the department, although he may have increased a couple.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:33:45 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ROBUS replied that is correct.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  asked  him  to explain  why  the  amounts  were                                                               
requested.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS  explained that his  division relies on the  one source                                                               
of non-federal funding that  it gets to do all of  its work - the                                                               
fish and game fund, which is  pretty much composed of hunting and                                                               
trapping  license  fees  and  hunter  tag fees.  It  has  had  no                                                               
increase in the last 13  years. The division's expenses are going                                                               
up and  revenues are static  or slightly declining. He  can still                                                               
get federal  matching funds, but has  run short to be  able to do                                                               
the additional  wildlife management work  to the extent  that the                                                               
division  is  running $2  million  less  this  year. He  has  the                                                               
increased demands  of predator  control and  intensive management                                                               
programs.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     We do have  some serious fiscal issues  in the division                                                                    
     and we  put forward a  straw man proposal  containing a                                                                    
     fee  increase  that  we've  taken  around  to  advisory                                                                    
     committees, the  Board of Game, various  public groups,                                                                    
     individual  legislators  -  tried  to  put  together  a                                                                    
     package  that would  once again  bring  back enough  of                                                                    
     that state license money to  properly fund the wildlife                                                                    
     management  activities we  need to  do. That  straw man                                                                    
     package  was the  beginning of  the  evolution for  the                                                                    
     structure that  you see  in that  portion of  this bill                                                                    
     today.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:35:46 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEDMAN said  sheep are  highly prized  for hunters  and                                                               
Alaska  shouldn't  be  the  low-cost  producer  for  out-of-state                                                               
hunters.  He  wanted  an  explanation  of  why  the  fees  mostly                                                               
doubled.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS explained that the fees  were based on the need to make                                                               
up at least  the $2 million annual shortfall at  present plus the                                                               
desired  capability  to  be  able  to  do  more  active  wildlife                                                               
management  related  to  the intensive  management  law  and  the                                                               
predator management programs he has  going. In terms of the value                                                               
of their dollars, state residents pay  one half of what they paid                                                               
for a hunting license at  statehood. The sustained yield programs                                                               
must  be continued  for multiple  years to  be effective  and the                                                               
department  needs to  be able  to measure  the situation  before,                                                               
during  and after  those predator  programs in  order to  sustain                                                               
them.  The fees  were structured  to bring  in $3.5  million that                                                               
would restore the division's capabilities to manage wildlife.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN said  that some people don't  buy licenses anyhow                                                               
and doubling  the fee  doesn't encourage them.  He asked  how the                                                               
department planned to handle enforcement.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS  agreed with  his comment, but  said adamantly  that he                                                               
needs money for his programs.  He explained that enforcement is a                                                               
split effort  between his division  and the Department  of Public                                                               
Safety with DPS being the primary enforcers.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEDMAN wanted  a breakdown  of  who purchases  licenses                                                               
around the state.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:42:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS  asked if  other areas  have asked  for increased                                                               
predator control.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROBUS  replied  yes;  the   division  has  implemented  five                                                               
programs  and it's  challenging  to keep  them  going. There  are                                                               
numerous desires for intensive management programs elsewhere.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  asked if he  agreed that certain  predators have                                                               
been  allowed to  over-harvest in  many  areas of  the state  and                                                               
needs significant attention paid to it  if they want to put moose                                                               
and caribou on the tables of people in the State of Alaska.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS responded:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     I  might state  it slightly  differently. I'm  not sure                                                                    
     that predators over harvest, but  the situation we have                                                                    
     now is that predators in  many places are taking enough                                                                    
     prey  animals to  prevent those  prey populations  from                                                                    
     increasing  to  levels that  can  be  supported by  the                                                                    
     habitat,  which   would  provide  more   animals,  more                                                                    
     hunting opportunity,  more meat  in the  freezer around                                                                    
     the state.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  noted that the section  requiring a conservation                                                               
tag from  people who hunt waterfowl  on page 14 will  be deleted.                                                               
It  will require  anyone who  fishes who  is of  legal age  or of                                                               
capability to  have a fishing  license for the first  time. Right                                                               
now only a hunting license is required.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
5:45:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN  asked if  this changes  the age  requirement for                                                               
having a license from anyone who is over 16 years of age.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS replied that it doesn't change that.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN asked if that isn't the law of the land today.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  replied,  "Not  for  subsistence  purposes  for                                                               
fishing."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:46:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON  asked if the  first section, which  is legislative                                                               
intent, and  the last couple  of sections plus the  sections that                                                               
change 60  substantive operations in  the Department of  Fish and                                                               
Game,  could be  taken out  until they  can get  the department's                                                               
take on what it really needs.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:47:14 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  ROBUS said  that would  lead into  what he  has to  say. The                                                               
department has identified the fee increase  as a big need. He has                                                               
talked    to   advisory    committees    and    the   Board    of                                                               
Game  about it.  "The  license fee  is  a tremendously  important                                                               
aspect of this  bill from the perspective of my  division and the                                                               
department."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The size and complexity of the  bill means that the department is                                                               
still doing the analysis to figure out what the parts mean.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
It's  clear  that  it had  concerns  over  two-dozen  significant                                                               
changes to fish and game  statutes.  The relationship between the                                                               
Board  of Game,  the Board  of Fisheries  and the  department has                                                               
been changed  markedly in terms  of who  has the authority  to do                                                               
what. There is  a change in the way wild  animals are defined and                                                               
some animals would not even  be under his management jurisdiction                                                               
until or unless  the Board of Game took action  to make them part                                                               
of his business.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The  fiscal responsibility  part of  the bill  would impose  some                                                               
pretty  stringent  constraints  on  both  the  division  and  the                                                               
department  and those  need  to be  worked  through, although  he                                                               
understands that  accountability is something the  public and the                                                               
legislature want and deserve.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN SAXBY, Department of Law  (DOL), echoed Mr. Robus' comments                                                               
saying he hadn't had that much time  to look at the bill, but has                                                               
identified  a number  of  constitutional  and statutory  concerns                                                               
that would have to be thought through.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   SEEKINS  said   he  appreciates   the  fact   that  the                                                               
departments have not  had a lot of  time to look at  this, but he                                                               
wants an accounting  of money the Department has  spent. When the                                                               
ADF&G budget  was looked  at in  Finance Committee,  the question                                                               
was  asked  where  the  money  goes.  A  statute  says  that  the                                                               
legislature is  to receive a  project-by-project analysis  of how                                                               
it was  spent. But  they were  told "project"  is not  defined in                                                               
statute.   Alaska's Comprehensive Wildlife  Conservation Strategy                                                               
was  put together  with $600,000  or $800,000  worth of  matching                                                               
funds from the state to obtain  $3 million worth of federal money                                                               
to put into implementing a conservation plan.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     In this whole  plan, there is not a single  plan on how                                                                    
     to develop a conservation  plan for prey animals. There                                                                    
     are  conservation plans  for voles  and birds  and even                                                                    
     eel grass invertebrates.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
None of  the 74  species were nominated  by a  single consumptive                                                               
user  group; they  were nominated  by the  Audubon Society,  Cook                                                               
Inlet Keeper and  other groups across the state.  His folks would                                                               
go  along  with  some  increase  in  fees,  but  they  want  some                                                               
accountability  there. "We  don't  want somebody  to establish  a                                                               
conservation strategy  for the State  of Alaska that  hasn't gone                                                               
through the public hearing process that the Board of Game does."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WAGONER  said he would hold  the bill for further  work and                                                               
adjourned the meeting at 5:58:37 PM.                                                                                          

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