Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
02/17/2005 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 85-OFF-ROAD VEHICLE USE ON DALTON HIGHWAY 1:41:04 PM CHAIR HUGGINS asked all persons slated to testify to limit their testimony to three minutes. 1:42:16 PM MR. JACK REAKOM testified he has lived in the territory his entire life. They see thousands of tourists and hunters annually. He makes his living by air and guide hunting. He has extensive knowledge of the region. The access efforts in the area already provide utilization of the resources. There is currently a low-density moose population, which is not enough to sustain general hunting. They have seen dramatic declines of Dahl sheep populations as well. SB 85 would alter traditional access. ATVs would wander aimlessly looking for game and the impact would egregiously affect current users. He cited additional enforcement and maintenance costs. 1:46:07 PM CHAIR HUGGINS asked Mr. Reakom whether management of game in the corridor by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) would make him feel better. MR. REAKOM stated his belief that the resources are utilized to a maximum. Unit 24 is harvesting at 4.5 percent, which is right at sustainability. He maintained there are no additional resources for use. 1:49:09 PM MR. JOHN. STACEY testified the issue is of vital importance to his livelihood. He is a lifelong Alaskan resident supported by resources in the James Dalton Highway corridor. He holds a registered guide license, which is his main income. Passage of SB 85 would incur three main affects 1. Decrease in game 2. Severe surface disturbance 3. Security of public and private property Alyeska Pipeline Service Company would also be burdened by increased vandalism and public safety issues. There is currently only one Alaska State Trooper with a vast area of responsibility. The bill would cost the state much money. 1:52:22 PM MR. STACEY summarized his opposition to SB 85. 1:52:45 PM SENATOR COWDERY asked Mr. Stacey how the area has changed since 1978. MR. STACEY said once the road was opened there was an increase in hunters and visitors. Issues of traffic popped up along with a need to manage parameters of resources. 1:55:21 PM MS. ANNA SMITH testified she is a third generation Alaskan from the Kenai Peninsula. He has seen damage to the lands from ATV trails. ATV usage would damage the ecosystem. 1:57:19 PM MR. LARRY BURRIS, village liaison facilitator, Anaktuvuk introduced the next witness. MR. RAYMOND (indisc) testified he is a lifelong resident of Anaktuvuk and a subsistent hunter. He expressed concern passage of SB 85 would negatively impact the area. He addressed the need to protect the wildlife. He expressed concern regarding lack of law enforcement. He urged the committee to protect the Arctic National Park and the University of Alaska Fairbanks research station. 2:02:05 PM CHAIR HUGGINS asked Mr. Raymond to expound on his concern about wildlife and congestion. MR. RAYMOND informed he had wildlife migration concerns, which were already affected due to the pipeline. CHAIR HUGGINS asked whether he would support banning snow machines and ATVs north of the Yukon River. MR. RAYMOND felt there was not enough law enforcement to do that. MR. BURRIS advised another concern is the level of search and rescue services. Emergency search and rescue operations ignore the environment and cause great damage. CHAIR HUGGINS asked whether he had a problem with search and rescue by helicopter. 2:06:01 PM MR. BURRIS admitted it was the best and fastest way, however dire situations create havoc for the environment. MS. JUNE RAAKOFF, pastor, Wiseman Village, testified her opposition to the bill. Over the years professionals and scientists have performed intense studies to determine the best use of the land while considering the land and the wildlife. She views SB 85 with grave concern and sees it as an invasion of high-powered machinery. 2:13:31 PM MR. BERNIE HICKER testified in opposition to SB 85. He is a twenty plus year resident from Germany. He stated his belief the area is one of the last great places on earth. All the visitors come to experience the wilderness and fragile country yet leave the wildlife impacted and garbage on the highway. 2:16:17 PM MR. GORDON BROWER testified he worked for the North Slope Borough land-planning department and is a long-term member of the North Slope Federal Subsistence Advisory Council. The North Slope Borough has seen tundra damage issues occurring on lands and know that permafrost damage is hard to recover from. Terrorists would have more accessibility to the pipeline because of SB 85. The impacts would prove negative for subsistence, wildlife migration, and wildlife numbers. The high-powered rifle incident at Livengood caused over 390,000 gallons of oil to be spilled onto the tundra. 2:21:05 PM MR. BROWER summarized with law enforcement concerns and asserted the corridor should be highly protected. 2:22:14 PM MR. CARL ROLAND testified in strong disagreement with SB 85. He predicted widespread degradation of wildlife and ecosystem and increased need for maintenance and services on the James Dalton Highway as well as an increased need for security of the pipeline. 2:24:04 PM MS. ISLA MYERS-SMITH testified in opposition. Her personal experience with area law enforcement is there is limited jurisdiction, which basically gives people no access to law enforcement. She is a scientist who has studied disturbance impacts in the Arctic and suggested damage from increase usage would be long lasting. She stated there would also be an increase of incidences of humans starting wildfires. 2:26:40 PM MR. FRAN MAUER, retired wildlife biologist, expressed concern with SB 85 including sensitivity of the tundra and permafrost. There are currently little funds to enforce fish and game regulations. SB 85 would add to the competition for existing game and impact local subsistence users. The productivity of the wildlife is already low. The moose hunt was closed in the mid 1990s due to low populations. This illustrates the vulnerability of wildlife. He said the decline of wildlife coincides with an increase of traffic and aircraft. 2:30:07 PM MR. PHIL WILDFANG agreed with all the previous testimony in opposition to the bill. SB 85 does not deserve to go beyond the Senate Transportation Standing Committee. During the past 12 years he has had an opportunity to work with the military people who utilize the James Dalton Highway for hunting and fishing. They enjoy the current regulations. The population of the area prefers the stringent regulations that keep out the crowds. If the area is opened up hundreds of motorized vehicles will descend upon the lands. He urged the committee to defeat the bill. 2:33:30 PM MR. JASON TINSLEY testified he has lived and hunted in the area for 28 years. He asserted passage of SB 85 would ensure that people would ravage the lands while hunting illegally. He strongly opposes SB 85. 2:35:40 PM MS. ROSEMARY AHPAUANGANGUAK testified opening the James Dalton Highway to ATVs and snow machines would negatively alter the subsistence lifestyle. The cost of living is already high and people depend on the local resources to live. The area would suffer a loss of sustainability if SB 85 passes. 2:38:14 PM CHAIR HUGGINS held SB 85 in committee. SB 85-OFF-ROAD VEHICLE USE ON DALTON HIGHWAY 3:05:39 PM CHAIR HUGGINS brought SB 85 back to the committee. He spoke to the people who were in opposition to the bill and asserted there were a large number of ATVs already in use throughout the area. SENATOR OLSON noted overwhelming opposition to SB 85. He said SB 85 is against the wishes of the local residents. 3:06:55 PM CHAIR HUGGINS advised listeners that Senator Olson has been present and active during the proceedings even though he is not on the committee. SENATOR SEEKINS advised he could have provided hundreds of people to testify for SB 85 but elected not to in the interest of time. The bottom line is the people of Alaska are not allowed to use some public lands, as they are intended to. There are millions of acres of lands that people will never be able to enjoy. It is incumbent on the Legislature to provide people access to those lands. 3:08:45 PM SENATOR COWDERY moved SB 85 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). 3:10:45 PM SENATOR FRENCH objected. He disagreed with concern expressed over homeland security with regards to the pipeline. He voiced trust in the Board of Game to manage the wildlife and he supports helping disabled people access the woods and the mountains. He said his main concern was that there is no definition of "off road vehicle" in the bill. 3:12:49 PM SENATOR FRENCH added issues such as this come up often in Anchorage and they have found amenable solutions by compromise. He suggested the committee continue work on SB 85. 3:14:13 PM Roll called proved SB 85 moved out of committee on a 3-1 vote with Senator French dissenting.