Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/10/2003 01:05 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 10, 2003                                                                                        
                           1:05 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Mike Chenault, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Hugh Fate, Co-Chair                                                                                              
Representative Beverly Masek, Vice Chair                                                                                        
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
Representative Cheryll Heinze                                                                                                   
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Kelly Wolf                                                                                                       
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Beth Kerttula                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
OVERVIEW:  DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME                                                                                          
03-4, SIDE(S) A & B                                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR  MIKE  CHENAULT  convened   the  meeting  of  the  House                                                             
Resources  Standing  Committee  at  1:05  p.m.    Representatives                                                               
Chenault, Fate, Masek, Gatto, Heinze,  Lynn, Wolf, and Guttenberg                                                               
were  present at  the  call to  order.   Representative  Kerttula                                                               
arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                         
SUMMARY OF INFORMATION                                                                                                        
Number 0144                                                                                                                     
KEVIN  BROOKS,  Director,  Division of  Administrative  Services,                                                               
Alaska Department of  Fish and Game (ADF&G), gave  a breakdown of                                                               
the  six  divisions within  the  department.   He  indicated  the                                                               
department has an  operating budget of [$135]  million, with very                                                               
little coming  from the  general fund:   about $30  million comes                                                               
from the general fund; $50  million comes from federal funds; $25                                                               
million comes from ADF&G, with  some user fees from sport fishing                                                               
and  commercial  fishing;  and   ADF&G  collects  fees  on  guns,                                                               
ammunition, tackle, et  cetera, and fees for the  sale of fishing                                                               
and hunting licenses.   One strength of the program  is that it's                                                               
on-site  and available  in more  than 40  communities across  the                                                               
state  to help  manage the  resource.   He further  discussed the                                                               
administrative  services of  the  department  and indicated  that                                                               
there are 1,800 positions, which double in the summer months.                                                                   
Number 0813                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  expressed  disappointment  in  not  having                                                               
Kevin Duffy, acting commissioner of  ADF&G, available to speak to                                                               
the committee and  address his expectation for  the department to                                                               
manage things more efficiently.                                                                                                 
MR. BROOKS apologized  on behalf of Mr. Duffy  and explained that                                                               
the commissioners were called to a conference with the governor.                                                                
Number 1003                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK  expressed interest  in knowing  what amount                                                               
of revenue the state made on the king salmon stamp.                                                                             
MR. BROOKS said he would provide a spreadsheet for 2002.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK said  she'd  be  interested in  information                                                               
specifically  for the  Upper  Susitna drainage  area  and for  an                                                               
update on the Pittman-Robertson funds.                                                                                          
Number 1133                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF asked  about the  efficiencies of  ADF&G and                                                               
said at present  they were less than acceptable.   He requested a                                                               
copy of the department's social  and economic impact study on the                                                               
Kenai king  salmon run,  which cost  the state  $40,000.   He was                                                               
interested in  knowing when  the study would  be made  public and                                                               
indicated  the study  should be  made available  to the  Board of                                                               
Fisheries and not try to circumvent the public process.                                                                         
Number 1263                                                                                                                     
KELLY   HEPLER,  Director,   Division  of   Sport  Fish,   Alaska                                                               
Department  of  Fish  and  Game, said  the  division  planned  to                                                               
provide  two bodies  of science,  and  that the  contract to  the                                                               
board item was not in the budget survey due this week.                                                                          
Number 1420                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  said it was a  static overview without                                                               
the budget and a view of where the new administration is going.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE   GATTO  talked   about  Project   WILD  and   the                                                               
educational program  goals for  children in  kindergarten through                                                               
12th  grade.   He expressed  reservations about  the department's                                                               
going into  schools with a  particular philosophy, as  opposed to                                                               
presenting information that is scientifically based.                                                                            
Number 1735                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT said  this  meeting was  an overview  to                                                               
hear about  the department's responsibilities and  an opportunity                                                               
to ask  questions.   He suggested the  committee work  to correct                                                               
problems at a later time.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO indicated  that  he felt  obligated to  put                                                               
forth questions and get some answers regarding his concerns.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF stated his  understanding that the department                                                               
will  work under  the  new governor's  direction.   He  mentioned                                                               
maximum sustained yield and protecting the environment.                                                                         
Number 1990                                                                                                                     
DOUG MECUM,  Director, Division  of Commercial  Fisheries, Alaska                                                               
Department  of Fish  and Game,  provided  a handout  of the  2003                                                               
overview   and  key   accomplishments   for   the  division.   He                                                               
highlighted  areas  of   personal  use;  subsistence  management;                                                               
management of waters and research  up to 200 miles out; shellfish                                                               
and  groundfish;   and  the  salmon  treaty   negotiations.    He                                                               
indicated the division's budget is  $124 million, with 80 percent                                                               
coming from  the general fund.   He  said biologists have  seen a                                                               
decline  of  a  billion-dollar  salmon  industry  over  the  last                                                               
several years.   He indicated that the  halibut [population] went                                                               
from 130 million to 140 million  fish, and currently, it's at its                                                               
lowest value,  which is half of  recent 5-year values.   He spoke                                                               
on the  subsistence issue,  navigable waters,  and the  future of                                                               
mariculture.    He  indicated  passage of  HB  208  required  DNR                                                               
[Department of Natural Resources] to  have [80] sites but that it                                                               
nominated 190 sites.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE  inquired about  current sites  for geoduck                                                               
farming and asked how successful they have been.                                                                                
MR. MECUM  responded that  three permits had  been issued  out of                                                               
the several that  have been applied for.  He  anticipated that up                                                               
to 20 will be permitted, but they are in the initial stage.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE brought up a  lawsuit pending over a denial                                                               
of  a permit.   She  indicated  the estimated  cost is  $4 to  $5                                                               
million.    She   offered  her  belief  that   common  stock  was                                                               
transferred with  the permits and  indicated the issue is  in the                                                               
Alaska Supreme Court.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE discussed  the subsistence  board's decision                                                               
on subsistence use for cash  for the [Yukon-Kuskokwim] Region and                                                               
the need to implement more commercial fisheries.                                                                                
MR. MECUM said  the board has not finalized it's  position on the                                                               
rule, but he thinks they should appeal the decision.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  asked who develops the  division's missions.                                                               
He indicated  that the  board should work  very closely  with the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA asked about  developing test fisheries in                                                               
Southeast Alaska for geoducks, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK  brought up the  tax relief issue  for those                                                               
fishermen who are not able to make their tax payments.                                                                          
MR. MECUM  offered to  speak with the  Department of  Revenue and                                                               
noted  that  there are  14  pieces  of current  legislation  that                                                               
address this issue, such as the "buy-back" tax relief.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO stated  that  he would  have questions  for                                                               
Kevin  Duffy  regarding  the guiding  principles  and  scientific                                                               
integrity he has worked under for the last 21 years.                                                                            
MR.  HEPLER spoke  about the  division's $30-million  budget [and                                                               
indicated] that no  general funds are used;  the division employs                                                               
21 field officers; oversees three  hatcheries, which combine both                                                               
private and nonprivate  entities; and is looking  to develop more                                                               
sites and have more boat launches.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF  asked  if  they are  also  responsible  for                                                               
training  [Fish  &  Wildlife Protection  troopers]  and  inquired                                                               
about the survey or study that was done.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN mentioned  resident and  nonresident fishing                                                               
licenses and asked about the fees collected.                                                                                    
MR. HEPLER  answered that it  was nearly impossible to  break out                                                               
the fee amount on the different  types of licenses.  Some are for                                                               
one to three days, and some  people purchase a king salmon stamp;                                                               
the revenues are three to one.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF mentioned  the Chris  Strauss (ph)  informal                                                               
program and [indicated the program] is not being funded.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE   talked  about  training   public  safety                                                               
officers   on   fish   protection   and   regulations   regarding                                                               
CO-CHAIR FATE asked  if the numbers are cut, how  would it affect                                                               
the enforcement program because  it doesn't entail management and                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF asked  if they had seen the  white paper that                                                               
referenced  the survey  and staying  away from  catch-and-release                                                               
fishing  for early-run  king salmon,  with field  notes for  Mary                                                               
MR. MECUM indicated he would  provide numbers on licensing to all                                                               
Number 2749                                                                                                                     
MARY PETE,  Director, Division of Subsistence,  Alaska Department                                                               
of Fish and  Game, discussed various aspects of  the division and                                                               
indicated  that  it contains  a  research  division, which  makes                                                               
recommendations  to the  Board of  Fisheries and  Board of  Game.                                                               
She  said a  technical  paper series  covering baseline  studies,                                                               
complete with social and economic  issues, and the information is                                                               
available from  the 1980s.   The division's staff consists  of 28                                                               
full-time  employees  and  60  to 70  part-time  employees.    It                                                               
monitors harvests  across the  state.   She indicated  the budget                                                               
consists  of $224,000  out of  the  general fund,  $1 million  in                                                               
[Alaska  Industrial  Development  and Export  Authority  (AIDEA)]                                                               
receipts, $100,000  from inter-agencies, $70,000  from (indisc.),                                                               
and  $2.2 million  in federal  dollars;  the division  acts as  a                                                               
pass-through to the community for contract dollars.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG   asked  about   personal-use  issues,                                                               
specifically, the  dipnet fishery in Chitna  and meeting criteria                                                               
for  traditional use,  using the  definition of  "customary long-                                                               
term" and not  commercial, which meets the state's  criteria.  He                                                               
indicated  information was  collected  in 1984;  over 500  permit                                                               
holders  in  Chitna  and Glennallen  were  interviewed;  and  the                                                               
report was  submitted to the  board and  had to meet  pretty high                                                               
criteria.   He asked  if there is  new information  to reconsider                                                               
the finding.                                                                                                                    
MS.  PETE said  yes,  a  2000 survey  and  interview defined  the                                                               
criteria  under "Sections  1, 3,  and  8," with  Section 1  being                                                               
"customary,"  Section 3  being  intergenerational knowledge,  and                                                               
Section 8 allowing for diversity  of uses.  She discussed whether                                                               
the  pattern meets  the established  criteria  and suggested  the                                                               
board  believed  the  pattern  did  not  meet  the  criteria  for                                                               
subsistence use.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO requested  further  information on  Project                                                               
Number 2299                                                                                                                     
MATT ROBUS,  Acting Director, Division of  Wildlife Conservation,                                                               
Alaska Department  of Fish  and Game, said  the division  has 260                                                               
employees with  23 locations around  the state, including  4 main                                                               
headquarters and  18 regional offices.   He indicated there  is a                                                               
$27-million budget:   $32,000  comes from  the general  fund, and                                                               
the  rest  comes  from   user-paid  organizations  and  waterfowl                                                               
stamps, licenses, and  fees.  He indicated  the regulatory system                                                               
is monitored by area biologists;  they oversee status of wildlife                                                               
populations,  work with  the Board  of Game  to manage  hunts and                                                               
drawings, and  work with the Tier  II permits.  He  indicated the                                                               
workload increased  with federal  programs, which  sometimes have                                                               
different rules and  goals; the division also  has an educational                                                               
program with grants  from Washington, D.C.   The wildlife program                                                               
includes   economic  opportunities,   improving  tourism,   rural                                                               
villages, and  overseeing nongame  research on animals  like sage                                                               
grouse, sea  lions, black-tailed  ground hog, and  so forth.   He                                                               
indicated they  receive $6  million to  $7 million  from Pittman-                                                               
Robertson  funds, $4  million  from  WCRP [Wildlife  Conservation                                                               
Restoration  Program], and  $4  to $6  million  from Congress  in                                                               
special grants.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE FATE commented on  viewing wildlife as an industry                                                               
within the  state and wanted to  know if ADF&G was  receiving any                                                               
money for this.                                                                                                                 
MR. ROBUS explained  that the department receives  a small amount                                                               
of funding for things such  as the Round Island Sanctuary, McNeil                                                               
River, and Pack Creek in Southeast Alaska.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG  suggested  that $300,000  comes  from                                                               
[ADF&G];  federal  money  is becoming  available,  and  they  can                                                               
garner funds from nonconsumptive users  that can be used to match                                                               
other federal dollars.                                                                                                          
MR.  ROBUS said  some  funds are  available  with a  one-to-three                                                               
match, and  suggested it's very  complicated.  He  indicated some                                                               
of  the funding  is  50:50.   He  said  $250,000  comes from  the                                                               
general  fund;  $30,000 is  for  gathering  data on  the  ferret,                                                               
prairie dog, grouse, et cetera, -  for wildlife that may not have                                                               
enough information collected  to be able to say they  are in fair                                                               
shape.  For example, they are  looking at harbor seals to be able                                                               
to argue  biological status.   He indicated another issue  is the                                                               
governor's  reorganizational move  for [the  Division of  Habitat                                                               
and Restoration]  to DNR.   Title 16  provides that  the division                                                               
will protect, maintain, restore, and  enhance lands and allow for                                                               
responsible use;  these lands  include refuges,  critical habitat                                                               
areas, special areas, and special projects.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF   discussed  the   habitat  study   and  the                                                               
methodology used  for collecting data on  stream bank restoration                                                               
reports, and talked about the use of "319 funds".                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE asked  for background  information on  the                                                               
Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP).                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA postulated  questions regarding  how the                                                               
reorganizational move would be made  and asked about oversight of                                                               
the permitting of land and water use under Title 16.                                                                            
MR. ROBUS  stated that there are  35 positions moving to  DNR and                                                               
21 will  remain with  ADF&G.  The  Kachemak Bay  Critical Habitat                                                               
Area and the  EXXON Valdez settlements would be  staying with the                                                               
division  as well.   It  is possible  that up  to as  many as  50                                                               
positions will be cut.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF expressed  concerns  over  habitat and  king                                                               
salmon  early runs,  and wanted  to  know how  many permits  [are                                                               
issued] per  year and  the turnaround  time.   He also  wanted to                                                               
know how many are denials.                                                                                                      
MR. ROBUS, in  response, said about 15 to 17  days on average and                                                               
that he wasn't sure about the  number of denials, but felt it was                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  indicated he  thought it was  only 15  or 16                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG  said  they are  required  to  approve                                                               
permits yearly.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO addressed  [Ms.  Pete]  and reiterated  the                                                               
need to strike a  balance in Alaska.  He asked  about the need to                                                               
grow more moose  if there is a  problem with too few  moose or if                                                               
the problem is the quality of the habitat.                                                                                      
DIANE  COTE,  Executive  Director,   Board  of  Fisheries,  Board                                                               
Support Section,  Alaska Department  of Fish and  Game, explained                                                               
they also have some oversight of  game, but mostly deal with fish                                                               
issues.   She  indicated  the board  includes administration  and                                                               
technical  support; is  responsible  for public  notice of  board                                                               
meetings, and  other general duties;  meets four to five  times a                                                               
year; and has  six full-time employees that work  closely with an                                                               
advisory committee and provide support.   There are 81 committees                                                               
with about  900 seasonal  persons all across  the state,  and the                                                               
board depends on public opinion to make decisions.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  mentioned  the   length  of  the  board                                                               
meetings  and said  several of  her constituents  would like  the                                                               
board to consider managing its time better.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  asked about  the makeup of  the boards                                                               
and suggested a broad geographical makeup would work best.                                                                      
There were no announcements.                                                                                                    
COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                              
The committee took no action.                                                                                                   
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Resources Standing Committee was adjourned at 2:36 p.m.                                                                         
NOTE:   The meeting was  recorded and handwritten log  notes were                                                               
taken.  A  copy of the tape(s)  and log notes may  be obtained by                                                               
contacting the  House Records  Office at  State Capitol,  Room 3,                                                               
Juneau,  Alaska  99801  (mailing address),  (907)  465-2214,  and                                                               
after  adjournment  of the  second  session  of the  Twenty-Third                                                               
Alaska  State Legislature  this  information may  be obtained  by                                                               
contacting the Legislative Reference Library at (907) 465-3808.                                                                 

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