Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205
02/06/2017 03:30 PM RESOURCES
Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.
Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
|Overview: Alaska's Primacy Program for Water and Air|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 6-SUPPORT ROAD: KING COVE & COLD BAY 3:31:15 PM CHAIR GIESSEL announced consideration of HJR 6 [CSHJR 6(RES) am, labeled 30-LS0329\J.A was before the committee]. It relates to a small one-lane gravel road access to an all-weather airport in nearby Cold Bay that people of the Alaskan Village of King Cove have been requesting for decades. According to the Alaska delegation, that request has been met with "secretarial antipathy." Specifically, HJR 6 asks the legislature to support efforts by Alaska's congressional delegation to achieve a land exchange authorized by Congress in which the federal wilderness area surrounding King Cove would receive approximately 43,000 acres of state land to add to it. In return, less than 400 acres for a road corridor would be opened for access between the two settlements. 3:32:15 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI joined the committee. CHAIR GIESSEL said the sponsor of HJR 6 is the Speaker of the House, Representative Bryce Edgmon. 3:32:35 PM REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON, Speaker* Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of HJR 6, said HJR 6 basically expresses the legislature's appreciation and support for the legislation that Senator Murkowski and Representative Young have introduced that would allow the land exchange necessary to complete what is essentially a 30-mile road connecting King Cove and Cold Bay. About 18 miles of that road has already been constructed and is sitting there unused because of the remaining 12 miles that need to be constructed. This issue has been lingering for 30 years. The measure that created the land exchange in 2010 passed the Alaska Legislature unanimously with no opposition and most recently this resolution passed the House by a vote of 39-0. Being a resolution, it has no fiscal note. 3:34:29 PM CHAIR GIESSEL said she appreciated the number of folks he provided in the resolution who were negatively affected by the lack of the road. 3:34:59 PM SENATOR COGHILL noted the many letters of support. SENATOR MEYER said even though everyone supports this issue, the State of Alaska (SOA) is in litigation over it and he wanted to know its status. 3:35:31 PM TIM CLARK, staff to Representative Edgmon, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, said the SOA is in ongoing litigation with the Department of Interior over several issues related to the authorization for the land exchange and road that dates from the Public Lands Act of 2009. One is whether the authority for the exchange that was created in 2009, and through the state's reciprocating legislation in 2010, is still valid. In fact, this resolution was amended slightly to make sure it wasn't treading on any of the concepts under discussion, so now the last whereas clause refers to the new bills introduced by Alaska's delegation as ensuring the continuing authorization for the exchange and the road. 3:37:07 PM CHAIR GIESSEL opened public testimony. 3:37:25 PM WILLIAM DUSHKINS, SR., representing himself, King Cove, Alaska, supported HJR 6 saying if it saves one life, the state and federal government are paid in full. It didn't seem fair that the federal government is demanding so much land from the King Cove Corporation, because the military had installed 100 miles of road already and it didn't hurt anything. This road would open the gates to King Cove that has one of the biggest fish processing plants in the world. 3:39:15 PM JENNIFER HARRISON, CEO, Eastern Aleutian Tribes, King Cove, Alaska, supported HJR 6. She said this organization manages the health clinics in King Cove and Cold Bay and that the 55 emergency evacuations and 17 Coast Guard incidents are numbers from her tracking system. She related two incidents that happened to her just this weekend when she tried to fly out of King Cove. The plane hadn't flown out for three days, because of a soft gravel runway, not because of bad weather. She finally found a fisherman who was willing to take her to Cold Bay. She got to climb "that ladder," saying it was windy and cold and you had to hold on for your life. An elderly who had already missed two health appointments was willing to go on the boat and climb up that ladder with her. Another man was medevacked from King Cove a half-hour later for all the same reasons. 3:41:54 PM MIKE SALLEE, representing himself, Ketchikan, Alaska, opposed HJR 6. He asked what it is about King Cove that justifies expending that amount of political effort to get an exception to long standing environmental protections in order to punch a road across a critical habitat of a national wildlife refuge. Although he hadn't heard but "bits and pieces" of this issue, he thought this was an attempt to set the precedent of allowing development in wildlife refuges in order to weaken protections for places like the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). He related that his mother lived in a remote homestead by choice for the last 15 years of her life. She had only a 14-foot skiff for transport to the Ketchikan road system and accepted the cost of operating and maintaining that skiff, as well as the risks and difficulty dictated by weather and sea conditions. But for her it was a fair trade-off for living in a place she loved. "She did not ever demand that her community or government provide her with a means to travel comfortably and safely to a remote home of her own choosing," he said. People are scattered all over Alaska living in remote settings where quick and ready access to medical services simply does not exist. 3:45:17 PM HENRY MACK, Mayor, City of King Cove, Alaska, supported HJR 6. He was on the City Council back in 1976 when the first resolution was adopted identifying the need for road access to the Cold Bay Airport, which is their primary connection to the outside world. They have winds in excess of 50 mph on a regular basis. The small King Cove Airport is precariously perched adjacent to volcanic mountains and about 30-40 percent of the time single-engine planes cannot make their scheduled flights in and out of the community. This road will resolve their access problems so King Cove residents can have safe and dependable access to the Cold Bay Airport. He remarked that a mother and new born came home from a check-up in Anchorage on the same boat that Jennifer Harrison went out on. The Mom had to wrap the baby inside of her coat and go down the same 20-foot ladder. He said even though they are fishermen used to bad weather, they don't like traveling with kids and families in bad weather. 3:49:38 PM GARY HENNIGH, representing himself, King Cove, Alaska, said he was available for questions on HJR 6. CHAIR GIESSEL closed public testimony on HJR 6. SENATOR COGHILL moved to report CSHJR 6(RES) am, labeled 30- LS0329\J.A, from committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note. There were no objections and it was so ordered.