Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/15/2005 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION

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01:32:09 PM Start
01:33:04 PM SB85
03:00:58 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Scheduled But Not Heard
Heard & Held
          SB 85-OFF-ROAD VEHICLE USE ON DALTON HIGHWAY                                                                      
1:33:04 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR RALPH SEEKINS introduced SB  85. A substantial portion of                                                               
Alaska's  landmass  lies  close  to  the  James  Dalton  Highway.                                                               
Current law bans  the use of off-road vehicles  within five miles                                                               
of the  right-of-way, starting  at mile  57. The  law essentially                                                               
prohibits  access for  average Alaskans  to recreate  on tens  of                                                               
millions of  acres of public  lands. A  removal of the  ban would                                                               
clear   the  way   for  development   of   cabins,  trails,   and                                                               
campgrounds. These could all be  built while protecting sensitive                                                               
areas.  The Bureau  of  Land Management  (BLM)  already has  some                                                               
accommodations in place for the public.                                                                                         
1:35:25 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Albert Kookesh joined the committee.                                                                                    
Continued prohibition  of off road  vehicles will only  foster an                                                               
increasingly untenable  situation. Dropping  the ban  would allow                                                               
state agencies  to continue doing valuable  research work without                                                               
violating state law.                                                                                                            
Senator Seekins  referred to a  map of  the area in  question and                                                               
pointed out several areas of reference.                                                                                         
1:38:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  JOHN COWDERY  asked the  rules for  people trapping  and                                                               
hunting in the area.                                                                                                            
SENATOR SEEKINS  advised there are current  restrictions of high-                                                               
powered rifles  near the pipeline.  Hunting takes  effort because                                                               
of the motorized vehicle restrictions.  The BLM would protect the                                                               
wildlife from over harvest.                                                                                                     
SENATOR COWDERY  asked whether subsistence people  have access to                                                               
the corridor.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR SEEKINS  said under current  law, no. They have  to start                                                               
outside the five-mile corridor.                                                                                                 
SENATOR COWDERY asked Senator Seekins to explain "outside."                                                                     
SENATOR SEEKINS  advised there  is a  five-mile corridor  that is                                                               
against the law to cross.                                                                                                       
1:40:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SEEKINS added  a person  is not  allowed to  go anywhere                                                               
within the five-mile  corridor boundary beginning at  the road. A                                                               
person  has to  live outside  the area  in order  to go  thru the                                                               
1:42:29 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Seekins  presented a Powerpoint slide  presentation:  The                                                               
presentation was  a series of  photographs taken along  the James                                                               
Dalton  Highway. Slides  included  photos  of people  recreating:                                                               
tourists,  cyclists, campers,  buses,  visitor  centers, etc.  No                                                               
winter  slides were  on the  presentation, however  reference was                                                               
made to heavy  use by snowmachiners. The pipeline  was visible in                                                               
many roadside slides.                                                                                                           
1:55:02 PM                                                                                                                    
End of slide  presentation. Senator Seekins referred  back to the                                                               
Some  parts of  the area  are environmentally  sensitive and  are                                                               
research areas. SB  85 would not harm  those projects. Landowners                                                               
would  put into  process  restrictions and  allow for  reasonable                                                               
access to public lands.                                                                                                         
1:57:15 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS explained the map of the James Dalton Highway.                                                                  
CHAIR HUGGINS explained  for those who couldn't see  the map, BLM                                                               
is the owner of the land in the corridor.                                                                                       
SENATOR SEEKINS agreed but said  there are some private lands and                                                               
small Native allotments as well.                                                                                                
2:00:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOLLIS FRENCH asked the original rationale for the ban.                                                                 
SENATOR  SEEKINS  responded  fighting over  lands  propelled  the                                                               
state to try  to accommodate everyone and still  have a corridor.                                                               
With planning wildlife concerns could be easily addressed.                                                                      
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked  whether  SB 85  would  change  the  rules                                                               
regarding access to the Arctic National Park.                                                                                   
SENATOR SEEKINS said no.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  HUGGINS noted  at one  time the  James Dalton  Highway was                                                               
SENATOR SEEKINS affirmed  it used to be a private  road closed to                                                               
public access without a permit.                                                                                                 
2:03:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGGINS asked whether the  committee should be aware of any                                                               
entrepreneurship issues.                                                                                                        
SENATOR  SEEKINS  said there  is  a  burden on  Alyeska  Pipeline                                                               
Service Company because of their good neighbor policy.                                                                          
CHAIR HUGGINS  asked Senator Seekins whether  he was representing                                                               
any special interest groups.                                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS said no. He represents access for all.                                                                          
2:07:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGGINS asked  whether there  was access  to the  area for                                                               
handicapped people.                                                                                                             
SENATOR SEEKINS said no.                                                                                                        
SENATOR  FRENCH   noted  arguments   against  the   bill  concern                                                               
wildlife. He asked Senator Seekins to respond to those concerns.                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  said the Board of  Game agrees if the  road were                                                               
opened   they   would   look  at   suggestions   regarding   game                                                               
2:09:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SEEKINS asserted  the  Department of  Fish and  Wildlife                                                               
(DFW) anticipates no problems addressing concerns.                                                                              
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  whether the  DFW would  overlay their  own                                                               
restrictions on the area.                                                                                                       
SENATOR SEEKINS said yes, through the public process.                                                                           
2:10:51 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS referred back to  the map and claimed caribou are                                                               
thriving but the Board of Game would craft limits on hunting.                                                                   
2:13:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DONNY  OLSON  asked  Senator   Seekins  whether  he  was                                                               
considering Native lands to be private.                                                                                         
SENATOR SEEKINS said yes.                                                                                                       
SENATOR OLSON noted  there was no fiscal note yet  there would be                                                               
increased  traffic,  increased  road   maintenance,  as  well  as                                                               
increased cost to law enforcement and fish and game personnel.                                                                  
SENATOR SEEKINS  advised that has been  taken into consideration.                                                               
The  road maintenance  is kept  up to  supply oil  fields on  the                                                               
North Slope. It  is difficult to determine how  many people would                                                               
use the road when it's opened up.                                                                                               
2:16:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS  asserted it  would not be  a huge  impact. There                                                               
probably would be a fiscal impact but it is indeterminate.                                                                      
Senator Therriault joined the committee.                                                                                        
SENATOR SEEKINS added the Department  of Public Safety determined                                                               
there would be no great impact initially.                                                                                       
2:19:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. TOM SCARBOROUGH, Fairbanks, testified in support of SB 85.                                                                  
MR. CAL SKAUGSTAD, Fairbanks, testified in Support of SB 85.                                                                    
2:21:01 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. DAVID STOLLER, Fairbanks, testified in support of SB 85.                                                                    
2:24:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GENE  THERRIAULT asked Mr.  Stoller whether the  Board of                                                               
Game manages resources within the corridor.                                                                                     
MR. STOLLER replied  yes. Currently the regulations  do not allow                                                               
use of  off road  vehicles to transport  game or  hunters through                                                               
the corridor.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  THERRIAULT asked  whether he  had first  hand experience                                                               
hunting outside  the corridor  and having to  pack the  game five                                                               
MR. STOLLER said he has hunted there but has yet to bag game.                                                                   
MR.   BILL   LARRY,   Alaska  Trailblazers,   Alaska   Snowmobile                                                               
Association, testified in support of SB 85.                                                                                     
MR. MIKE  TINKER, Fairbanks Advisory Committee,  testified he has                                                               
helped the Board  of Game work with subsistence  folks. Access to                                                               
the corridor  has been an  issue for years. He  expressed support                                                               
for the bill.                                                                                                                   
2:30:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  OLSON asked  Mr.  Tinker  the ability  of  the state  to                                                               
respond to pipeline vandalism.                                                                                                  
MR. TINKER responded  the oil spill contingency plan  is in place                                                               
but it is not an issue within the corridor.                                                                                     
2:33:08 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BRIAN  BARNES,  director, University  of  Alaska  Fairbanks,                                                               
Institute of Biology,  testified about his concerns  of off roads                                                               
vehicles on the  road near the research station where  there is a                                                               
30-year  history of  scientific research.  The Arctic  ecosystems                                                               
are known to be world  class. There are 350 scientists performing                                                               
eight million dollars worth of  research annually on 78,000 acres                                                               
of critically  sensitive lands.  Off road use  in the  area could                                                               
compromise  the  research  station.  He urged  the  committee  to                                                               
consider restrictions  between milepost 275-300 to  snow machines                                                               
only by permit.                                                                                                                 
2:38:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  OLSON  asked   Mr.  Barnes  whether  he   had  proof  of                                                               
compromise to the area.                                                                                                         
MR.  BARNES informed  research papers  show the  affects of  ATVs                                                               
(all  terrain  vehicles) on  tundra  by  production of  dust  and                                                               
sediment in  the waters.  He offered to  provide research  to the                                                               
SENATOR OLSON asked the kinds of fish that inhabit the rivers.                                                                  
MR. BARNES said grayling, char, and lake trout.                                                                                 
2:40:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGGINS asked the number of ATVs the research station has.                                                                
MR. BARNES  said none  for use  off road. They  have one  for use                                                               
from building to building.                                                                                                      
CHAIR HUGGINS asked the distance between buildings.                                                                             
MR. BARNES said the research station pad is twelve acres.                                                                       
CHAIR HUGGINS  asked the  number of  automobiles at  the research                                                               
MR. BARNES responded there were a dozen.                                                                                        
2:41:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGGINS asked the number of snow machines.                                                                                
MR. BARNES said four.                                                                                                           
CHAIR HUGGINS asked Mr. Barnes  whether he opposes or supports SB
MR.  BARNES responded  he would  support it  if he  were able  to                                                               
participate on the bill and provide some restrictions.                                                                          
2:43:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. PAUL HUGO,  Anaktuvuk, testified in opposition  to ATV usage.                                                               
He urged  the committee to  have public hearings in  the affected                                                               
areas. Passage of SB 85  would affect subsistence living and have                                                               
a negative impact on the  wildlife. The state should consider the                                                               
best  interest of  the people  in the  region. SB  85 would  only                                                               
benefit people from outside the area.                                                                                           
2:46:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGGINS asked  Mr.  Hugo whether  he  was concerned  about                                                               
people outside of Alaska accessing the land.                                                                                    
MR. HUGO said yes.                                                                                                              
CHAIR  HUGGINS asked  Mr. Hugo  if he  understood the  lands were                                                               
MR. HUGO reminded him there were also Native allotments.                                                                        
2:48:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGGINS  informed him  the proposal is  to have  a 12-month                                                               
window to  shape the  usage areas,  putting in  some restrictions                                                               
and prohibitions.                                                                                                               
MR. HUGO maintained his opposition to SB 85.                                                                                    
SENATOR  COWDERY  asked  Mr.  Hugo  the  number  of  animals  his                                                               
community takes each year.                                                                                                      
MR. HUGO answered over one thousand.                                                                                            
CHAIR HUGGINS asked the amount of trapping that goes on.                                                                        
MR.  HUGO  said  lately  people have  been  catching  wolves  and                                                               
wolverines.  They are  conscious and  sensitive to  the wildlife,                                                               
looking out for pregnant female wolves and the like.                                                                            
2:52:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MIKE THOMPSON, Department of  Natural Resources, (DNR), state                                                               
pipeline coordinators  office commented they were  neutral on the                                                               
CHAIR   HUGGINS  asked   Mr.   Thompson   whether  the   previous                                                               
conversations were  accurate in  the description of  the corridor                                                               
and history of the lands.                                                                                                       
MR. THOMPSON responded the DNR has  no position on SB 85. Senator                                                               
Seekins' testimony is accurate.                                                                                                 
SENATOR THERRIAULT  asked Mr.  Thompson whether  the DNR  has any                                                               
concern regarding access to the pipeline.                                                                                       
2:55:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. THOMPSON responded the DNR has worked with Alyeska pipeline                                                                 
to provide public access to certain areas. Issues have been                                                                     
MR. PAUL CARR, chief of police, North Slope Borough, testified                                                                  
his concern there was no definition of "off road vehicle."                                                                      
CHAIR HUGGINS held 85 in committee. There being no further                                                                      
business to come before the committee, he adjourned the meeting                                                                 
at 3:00:58 PM.                                                                                                                

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