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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+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 85 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
          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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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.                                                                                                 

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