Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

02/10/2017 01:00 PM House RESOURCES

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01:11:49 PM Start
01:12:37 PM HB105
03:02:01 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
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Heard & Held
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**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 10, 2017                                                                                        
                           1:11 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Andy Josephson, Co-Chair                                                                                         
Representative Geran Tarr, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Dean Westlake, Vice Chair                                                                                        
Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                 
Representative Justin Parish                                                                                                    
Representative Chris Birch                                                                                                      
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
Representative David Talerico                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Mike Chenault (alternate)                                                                                        
Representative Chris Tuck (alternate)                                                                                           
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 105                                                                                                              
"An Act establishing the Gordon Haber Denali Wolf Special                                                                       
Management Area."                                                                                                               
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 39                                                                                                               
"An Act relating to game management and to regulations of the                                                                   
Board of Game."                                                                                                                 
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 105                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: DENALI WOLF SPECIAL MANAGEMENT AREA                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) JOSEPHSON                                                                                         
02/03/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/03/17       (H)       RES, FIN                                                                                               
02/10/17       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
MEGAN ROWE, Staff                                                                                                               
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:    On behalf  of  Representative  Josephson,                                                             
sponsor, answered questions during the hearing of HB 105.                                                                       
BRUCE DALE, Director                                                                                                            
Division of Wildlife Conservation                                                                                               
Alaska Department of Fish & Game                                                                                                
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions  during the hearing of HB
RICK STEINER, Professor                                                                                                         
Conservation Biologist                                                                                                          
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 105.                                                                          
VIC VAN BALLENBERGHE                                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 105.                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:11:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  GERAN   TARR  called   the  House   Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at  1:11 p.m.   Representatives Tarr,                                                               
Rauscher, Drummond, Talerico, Josephson,  and Parish were present                                                               
at the  call to  order.   Representatives Johnson,  Westlake, and                                                               
Birch arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                   
           HB 105-DENALI WOLF SPECIAL MANAGEMENT AREA                                                                       
1:12:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR TARR announced that the only order of business would be                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 105, "An  Act establishing the Gordon Haber Denali                                                               
Wolf Special Management Area.                                                                                                   
1:13:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON, speaking  as the sponsor of  HB 105, informed                                                               
the committee  legislation on  this issue  was first  proposed in                                                               
2013, and again in 2015, but  never received a hearing.  The bill                                                               
seeks  to  return to  a  state  policy  that  looks out  for  the                                                               
interests of wolf  packs that leave the Denali  National Park and                                                               
Preserve (the park)  and venture north and east of  the park.  He                                                               
stated in the north part of  the park is the Stampede Trail where                                                               
there are  wolf townships, not  in the  park, but on  state land.                                                               
Although wolves  are intelligent, they do  not recognize borders,                                                               
and the  wolf population in  the park has  dropped significantly.                                                               
Wolf packs  remain in the  park, but  two packs are  decimated or                                                               
gone because of  trapping.  Tourism industry  records indicate it                                                               
used to be that one-half of the  visitors to the park saw a wolf,                                                               
but now  wolf sightings are reported  by six visitors out  of one                                                               
hundred, a  decrease of  approximately 45  percent to  6 percent.                                                               
Co-Chair Josephson opined the bill  is important for two reasons:                                                               
Denali National Park  and Preserve is the  third highest revenue-                                                               
generating park,  and has 650,000  visitors each year.   Spending                                                               
at the  park is about $810  million, with a small  city of hotels                                                               
and commerce north of the  park entrance supporting visitors.  In                                                               
addition,  wildlife  viewing  is  a  big  facet  of  the  tourism                                                               
economy; in  fact, ECONorthwest reported  90 percent  of visitors                                                               
to the state  come to view, rather than hunt,  wildlife.  Tourism                                                               
hunting  is   also  beneficial  as  hunting   sustains  wildlife;                                                               
however, more visitors come to  take pictures of wildlife.  There                                                               
are  19,000 jobs  statewide  in tourism  that  produce nearly  $1                                                               
billion  in wages.   The  park  remains a  prime destination  for                                                               
visitors  to Alaska,  and the  Alaska Department  of Fish  & Game                                                               
(ADG&F) reports  there is "just  a handful" of  trappers lawfully                                                               
trapping  in  a  way  that   hurts  the  wolf  pack  and  viewing                                                               
opportunities  thereof.   The bill  reflects the  sponsor's four-                                                               
year effort to change the law  affecting the lands north and east                                                               
of the  park, in order  to return  to state policy  that protects                                                               
the species.   Furthermore, in  addition to the  economic reasons                                                               
to change the law, there are  also ecologic reasons to support an                                                               
intact  ecological  system  in  the  park,  even  if  the  system                                                               
ventures outside the  borders of the park.  He  referred to other                                                               
pending legislation related to trapping near trails.                                                                            
1:21:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON said, according to  ADF&G, HB 105 would affect                                                               
a handful of trappers who have  an "adverse impact."  He directed                                                               
attention to the national perception  of this issue and read from                                                               
an article on page 69 of  the 2/16 edition of National Geographic                                                               
magazine  entitled, "Denali."    The  article described  collared                                                               
alpha  female wolves  from the  known Grant  Creek and  East Fork                                                               
packs that  had been trapped  and shot by an  individual claiming                                                               
three times to have ruined  wolf viewing experiences for millions                                                               
of  visitors  to the  park  [document  not provided].    Co-Chair                                                               
Josephson continued to  explain in 2000 wolf  biologist, the late                                                               
Gordon  Haber, and  others  convinced the  Board  of Game  (BOG),                                                               
Alaska Department of Fish &  Game (ADF&G), to establish a no-kill                                                               
buffer zone along  the Stampede Trail and in  Nenana Canyon, east                                                               
of  the  park.    In  2009,  the  National  Park  Service  (NPS),                                                               
requested  an  expansion  of the  protected  area;  however,  BOG                                                               
eliminated the buffer.   Currently, this issue is up  to BOG, but                                                               
the legislature has the authority  to take action consistent with                                                               
Alaska Statutes  Title 16.  He  opined BOG is not  a sufficiently                                                               
diverse board to  comply with its enabling act.   The last time a                                                               
buffer was  proposed, BOG postponed further  consideration of the                                                               
issue for six years, although  there was an emergency closure for                                                               
a few months.                                                                                                                   
1:26:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON observed Fairbanks  is a community that prides                                                               
itself  on trapping;  however, the  Fairbanks North  Star Borough                                                               
voted six to three to pass  a resolution in support of protection                                                               
for wolves.   He  read portions of  Fairbanks North  Star Borough                                                               
Resolution No. 201639:   "A  Resolution Urging Governor Walker to                                                               
Close Areas Adjacent to Denali  National Park and Preserve to the                                                               
Trapping and  Hunting of Bears, Wolves  and Wolverines," provided                                                               
in the committee packet.   Co-Chair Josephson concluded the state                                                               
contributes  to the  loss of  wolves  in the  park, and  directed                                                               
attention to  documents provided in the  committee packet related                                                               
to the impact  of trapping to the park,  and supplying statistics                                                               
on  tourism.   From the  foregoing statistics,  one can  conclude                                                               
wildlife  viewing generates  more income  than hunting,  although                                                               
both are  important.  Also,  ADF&G reported the number  of active                                                               
trappers  in the  affected area  is between  one and  three.   In                                                               
2012, he  recalled the Alaska Travel  Industry Association (ATIA)                                                               
expressed  interest  in  a  non-consumptive  seat  on  BOG.    He                                                               
acknowledged although there  will be criticism of  the bill, this                                                               
is a statewide issue.                                                                                                           
1:31:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  TARR asked  the  sponsor  to read  the  Be It  Resolved                                                               
portion of the above mentioned resolution.                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON   read  as  follows   [[original  punctuation                                                               
     NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Fairbanks North Star                                                                      
      Borough urges the Governor, through the Commissioner                                                                      
     of Fish and Game to  close the areas adjacent to Denali                                                                    
     National Park and Preserve to  the trapping and hunting                                                                    
     of  bears,   wolves  and  wolverines.  BE   IT  FURTHER                                                                    
     RESOLVED   copies   of   this   resolution   shall   be                                                                    
     distributed  to Governor  Walker and  Alaska Department                                                                    
     of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotton ...                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO expressed  his understanding the original                                                               
buffer zone  had a  sunset clause, thus  BOG did  not reauthorize                                                               
the buffer zone  and did not take an action  to remove the buffer                                                               
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON deferred the question to Dr. Steiner.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  asked whether  the sponsor was  aware of                                                               
the  distance between  the closest  Fairbanks North  Star Borough                                                               
boundary and the area of the proposed buffer zone.                                                                              
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON estimated 120 miles.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER asked for the width of the boundary.                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON   said  the  proposed   boundary  encompasses                                                               
several  hundred thousands  of acres  in a  conservation easement                                                               
management  area  where  activities are  unaffected  except  that                                                               
wolves  can't  be  killed.    He  deferred  to  Dr.  Steiner  for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WESTLAKE   acknowledged  there  is  a   value  of                                                               
trapping and a value of  tourists viewing animals; he pointed out                                                               
tourists leave  at the end  of each season, and  local activities                                                               
continue year-around.                                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON deferred to Dr.  Steiner for a complete answer                                                               
as to  when wolves are  taken, but noted  part of the  problem is                                                               
the wolves are not alive in June.                                                                                               
1:36:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked the sponsor  to provide a  map that                                                               
would show  the boundary proposed by  the bill.  On  page 1, line                                                               
8, the bill read [in part]:                                                                                                     
     consists of the  land and water presently  owned by the                                                                    
     state and the land and  water acquired in the future by                                                                    
     the  state lying  within the  boundaries of  the parcel                                                                    
     described in this subsection:                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON inquired as to  how [land and water] would                                                               
be  acquired by  the state  in  the future  and how  it would  be                                                               
affected by the bill.                                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON reminded the  committee there are five million                                                               
acres left  to select  under the terms  of the  [Alaska Statehood                                                               
Act of  1958].  Although the  land around the Stampede  Trail has                                                               
been selected,  there is always  the possibility of a  land trade                                                               
due to the  importance of this issue; however, there  is a crisis                                                               
-  two  well-known family  packs  are  gone  - and  he  cautioned                                                               
against  waiting  for alternative  action  by,  for example,  the                                                               
Board of Game.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON said she has  never been into the park but                                                               
has traveled the Stampede Trail.   She directed attention to page                                                               
2, lines [17-19] of the bill which read:                                                                                        
          (b)   The land and  water lying within  the Gordon                                                                    
     Haber Denali  Wolf Special Management Area  is reserved                                                                    
     from all  uses incompatible  with its  primary function                                                                    
     to  protect wolves  from hunting  and trapping,  except                                                                    
     that nothing in this section may be                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  advised in the abovementioned  area there                                                               
are  many other  animals and  game.   She questioned  whether the                                                               
bill  would be  unique,  and  the first  of  its  kind, with  the                                                               
primary  function  of  designating   a  buffer  to  protect  wolf                                                               
1:39:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON  agreed  the   foregoing  language  could  be                                                               
improved and clarified.  He stressed  the bill does not create an                                                               
area such  as the McNeil  River State Game Sanctuary  and Refuge,                                                               
which is  uniquely dedicated to  protect bear habitat.   Co-Chair                                                               
Josephson  recalled attending  a BOG  meeting which  revealed, he                                                               
opined,  only  with  great  reluctance  will  BOG  consider  non-                                                               
consumptive concerns.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  referred to  statistics provided  in the                                                               
sponsor  statement,   and  inquired  as  to   whether  a  current                                                               
sustainable population  number [of  wolves] has  been established                                                               
through scientific study.                                                                                                       
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON deferred to Dr. Steiner.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked for  an explanation of  Fiscal Note                                                               
Identifier:  HB105-DNR-MLW-2-8-17, OMB Component Number 3002.                                                                   
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON opined  a special  management  area may  fall                                                               
under the auspices of the  Department of Natural Resources (DNR),                                                               
and  a critical  habitat  area  may fall  under  the auspices  of                                                               
ADF&G;  in fact,  amendments to  the bill  may create  a critical                                                               
habitat area instead of a special  management area.  He noted DNR                                                               
has twice issued an indeterminate fiscal note.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON stated  without a  fiscal note,  the bill                                                               
cannot seriously be considered,  and requested additional related                                                               
information from ADF&G.                                                                                                         
CO-CHAIR   TARR   pointed   out  fiscal   notes   are   sometimes                                                               
indeterminate and gave an example.                                                                                              
1:46:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON directed  attention to  the last  line on                                                               
page 2  of the above  referenced fiscal note analysis  which read                                                               
[in part]:                                                                                                                      
     If   the   intent   of  the   bill   is   to   transfer                                                                    
     responsibilities and  authorities to the  Department of                                                                    
     Natural  Resources  ...   [the  Department  of  Natural                                                                    
     Resources} does not have sufficient information ...                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON remarked:                                                                                                
       It just seems like that they're unclear about the                                                                        
     intent  and  if they're  unclear  about  the intent,  I                                                                    
     didn't know what your ... intent entirely was either.                                                                      
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON  responded  the   bill  was  drafted  by  the                                                               
Legislative  Affairs  Agency,   Legislative  Legal  and  Research                                                               
Services.   He  said he  would work  with the  department on  the                                                               
bill's fiscal note.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER, referring to  his earlier question, also                                                               
asked if there is a trend  in the [wolf] population.  Further, he                                                               
questioned  whether the  bill provides  wildlife for  tourism, or                                                               
solves a wolf problem.                                                                                                          
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON answered  both.   He  seeks  to preserve  for                                                               
future  generations an  Alaska with  intact  ecosystems, and  not                                                               
little pockets  of wilderness,  as in the  national parks  in the                                                               
Lower  48.   The intent  of the  bill is  to have  a sustainable,                                                               
healthy  wolf population,  which  correlates with  income to  the                                                               
state from tourism.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  WESTLAKE questioned  why DNR  and not  ADF&G will                                                               
facilitate the bill.                                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON deferred to his staff.                                                                                       
1:50:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MEGAN  ROWE,  on  behalf of  Representative  Josephson,  sponsor,                                                               
explained ADF&G is  not responsible in the bill as  it is drafted                                                               
because the  bill relates to  a chapter in statute  designated to                                                               
the responsibilities of  DNR.  She directed attention  to page 2,                                                               
beginning on line 22 of the bill which read:                                                                                    
          (c)   The land and  water lying within  the Gordon                                                                    
     Haber Denali  Wolf Special Management Area  is assigned                                                                    
     to  the   department  for  control,   development,  and                                                                    
MS. ROWE advised  that "the department" was thought  to be ADF&G,                                                               
but is actually DNR, and thus is a "drafting issue."                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH recalled  in 1992 a wolf  buffer zone about                                                               
one-third larger  than proposed  was established,  but overturned                                                               
for  non-biological  reasons.   He  questioned  why the  proposed                                                               
buffer  zone is  smaller than  the area  previously suggested  by                                                               
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  deferred to  Dr. Steiner  to explain  why the                                                               
land -  illustrated on a map  provided in the committee  packet -                                                               
to  the southeast  of the  original park  and south  of Cantwell,                                                               
along  the George  Parks  Highway,  is no  longer  in  need of  a                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  asked whether the sponsor  has had dialogue                                                               
with the Denali Borough in this regard.                                                                                         
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON said no and offered to inquire.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  said Healy  is the closest  community to                                                               
the  park,  as  are  the   Stampede  Road  and  Panguingue  Creek                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  encouraged the  sponsor to think  about the                                                               
importance  of   local  control.     He  recalled   his  personal                                                               
experience in the  area responding to the use  of the Antiquities                                                               
Act  of  1906 by  former  President  Jimmy  Carter in  1978,  and                                                               
expressed his  concern about wildlife-related bills  that ignore,                                                               
or sidestep, the affected local governments.                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  opined BOG has  plenary power in  this regard                                                               
and  only the  legislature can  intervene; in  fact, it  has been                                                               
reported that  local, regional advisory  councils are  ignored by                                                               
1:56:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  expressed her  concern for the  wolf pack                                                               
that has  been studied  and is  a "treasure  ... for  our state."                                                               
She is also concerned about  the continued expansions of the park                                                               
boundary, which used to be  much smaller.  Representative Johnson                                                               
asked  how much  further  expansion is  enough  for animals  that                                                               
don't understand boundaries.                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON  clarified  the  bill  does  not  extend  any                                                               
boundary, but  grants an easement  for the benefit of  the wolves                                                               
in this  area.  Furthermore,  the Alaska National  Interest Lands                                                               
Conservation Act is  unique in that part of  its settlement terms                                                               
allow  for existing  uses to  continue, such  as subsistence  and                                                               
sport hunting,  and other local  practices.  Within  the original                                                               
1917  park  boundary  are  many   restrictions,  but  within  the                                                               
preserve there  are bear hunting, subsistence  hunting, and other                                                               
allowed activities.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO turned attention  to page 1, beginning on                                                               
line 8, of the bill which read [in part]:                                                                                       
     ... Wolf  Special Management Area consists  of the land                                                                    
     and water  presently owned  by the  state and  the land                                                                    
     and water  acquired in  the future  by the  state lying                                                                    
     within the boundaries ...                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO interpreted  the  foregoing language  to                                                               
mean that any included private property  would not be part of the                                                               
management area.                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON said  he did not know and  confirmed there are                                                               
private inholdings in  the affected area.   However, basic police                                                               
power precludes  some activities  on private  land and  he agreed                                                               
the language "requires some, some further discussion for sure."                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO advised  it  is important  to check  the                                                               
status of  the ownership of the  affected land.  For  example, he                                                               
questioned whether the largest contiguous  piece of land owned by                                                               
the Alaska  Railroad Corporation  (ARRC) would  be affected.   He                                                               
advised there  is a 6,000  acre reserve within the  boundaries of                                                               
the map  provided, and  a portion  of the land  is held  in quiet                                                               
title  by  a  lease.    Also within  this  area  are  parcels  of                                                               
residential  private  property,   ARRC  property,  University  of                                                               
Alaska (UA) property, and land  owned by a municipality; however,                                                               
the bill only  applies to land owned by the  state.  Furthermore,                                                               
according to  the map, a  large part  of the land  encompassed by                                                               
the  bill  is on  the  east  side of  the  Nenana  River, and  he                                                               
inquired as  to the location  and health of the  Totatlanika wolf                                                               
pack on the east side of the river.   He said he saw 27 wolves in                                                               
this pack,  and other wolf packs  on the east side  of the Nenana                                                               
River appear to be thriving in game management unit 20A.                                                                        
2:04:26 PM                                                                                                                    
BRUCE DALE,  Director, Division of Wildlife  Conservation, Alaska                                                               
Department  of  Fish  &  Game,   in  response  to  Representative                                                               
Talerico,  said  generally  wolf  densities are  higher  in  game                                                               
management unit  20A than in  Denali National Park  and Preserve,                                                               
because the abundance of moose is higher.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH returned attention  to page 1, beginning on                                                               
line 8  of the bill  [text previously  provided], and to  page 2,                                                               
beginning at line 17, which read [in part]:                                                                                     
      (b) The land and water lying within the Gordon Haber                                                                      
     Denali Wolf Special Management Area ...                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  asked  if   ADF&G  were  the  enforcement                                                               
agency,  would it  interpret the  foregoing  language to  include                                                               
private  property falling  within the  boundaries defined  by the                                                               
MR. DALE said the Department of  Public Safety (DPS) would be the                                                               
primary   enforcement  body,   and  "it   depends  on   how  it's                                                               
implemented whether  it would  be closed to  taking of  wolves on                                                               
private land or not."                                                                                                           
MS. ROWE remarked:                                                                                                              
     The  first  sentence  that you're  referring  to,  "The                                                                    
     Gordon  Haber  Denali  Wolf  Special  Management  Area"                                                                    
     consists of  the land that  is owned by the  state, now                                                                    
     and  in the  future.    This says,  "the  land that  is                                                                    
     within  that area,"  so  the area  is  the area  that's                                                                    
     presently  owned by  the state.   What  is reserved  is                                                                    
     that area.   The,  the land descriptions  might include                                                                    
     private  areas ...  private lands  and waters,  but the                                                                    
     area  that  is the  Gordon  Haber  Denali Wolf  Special                                                                    
     Management Area is land that  is presently owned by the                                                                    
     state or will  in the future be owned by  the state, so                                                                    
     it's not to include private lands.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  surmised private land within  the outlying                                                               
territory would not be subject to the rules in the bill.                                                                        
MS. ROWE said yes.                                                                                                              
2:08:10 PM                                                                                                                    
RICK  STEINER, Professor,  Conservation  Biologist, informed  the                                                               
committee he was  a professor at UA from  1980-2010, and directed                                                               
attention to  his written testimony and  ten supporting documents                                                               
provided in  the committee  packet.   He suggested  the committee                                                               
consider the  following two criteria  while judging HB 105:   1.)                                                               
The bill  helps the  economics of the  state because  it enhances                                                               
the wildlife tourism  industry; 2.) The bill  supports the Alaska                                                               
Constitution  by the  principle of  equity, fairness,  and common                                                               
ownership of all resources, including  wildlife, by all Alaskans.                                                               
He paraphrased from the Alaska  Constitution as follows [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                 Article 8 - Natural Resources                                                                                  
     Section 2. General Authority                                                                                               
     The legislature shall provide for the utilization,                                                                         
     development, and conservation of all natural resources                                                                     
     belonging to the State, including land and waters, for                                                                     
     the maximum benefit of its people.                                                                                         
     Section 3. Common Use                                                                                                      
     Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish,                                                                           
     wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for                                                                        
     common use                                                                                                                 
DR. STEINER surmised all Alaskans  have equal legal access to and                                                               
use  of  the  wildlife  in Denali  National  Park  and  Preserve,                                                               
including the seventy  thousand Alaskans who visit  the park each                                                               
year -  and who wish  to see the animals  alive - in  contrast to                                                               
the two or three individuals who  wish to hunt and trap along the                                                               
boundary of  the park.  Dr.  Steiner opined approval of  the bill                                                               
is  a clear  constitutional and  economic choice.   Turning  to a                                                               
short history  of the park, he  said at the time  of the creation                                                               
of  the park  in  1917,  the exact  boundaries  were unclear  and                                                               
debated, especially  along the northeast boundary  where wildlife                                                               
migrations  occur.   In  1922,  the  Alaska Railroad  recommended                                                               
adding  additional  land to  the  park,  and  in 1965  the  state                                                               
selected said  lands, noting the  park boundary is  an "arbitrary                                                               
line."  Efforts  to define the boundaries in 1969  by the Johnson                                                               
Administration,  and  in  1978   by  the  Carter  Administration,                                                               
failed.   In  1980,  during negotiations  surrounding the  Alaska                                                               
National  Interest  Lands  Conservation Act,  land  exchanges  to                                                               
bring  certain  areas  into  the  park  were  suggested  but  not                                                               
implemented.   In 1985, the Sheffield  Administration attempted a                                                               
land exchange with  the Kantishna Mining District,  and 1992, BOG                                                               
established the  first wolf buffer,  which was  approximately 800                                                               
square  miles,  including  the  wolf  townships  and  the  entire                                                               
eastern  boundary  of  the  park.   In  response  to  an  earlier                                                               
question, he explained HB 105 seeks  a smaller area than the 1992                                                               
buffer  because the  bill focuses  specifically  on viewing  wolf                                                               
family groups along  the Park Road.   Subsequently, "in political                                                               
retaliation response to [former]  Governor Hickel's suspension of                                                               
some  wolf control  programs elsewhere,"  BOG rescinded  the 1992                                                               
wolf buffer zone  order two months after it was  issued. In 1995,                                                               
the  Murkowski Administration  proposed a  railroad line  through                                                               
the wolf townships, and in  2000, BOG reestablished a wolf buffer                                                               
which was  expanded in  2002.  In  2001, former  Governor Knowles                                                               
unsuccessfully  proposed to  convey  the townships  to UA,  which                                                               
would  then sell  the land  to the  park.   In 2008,  an expanded                                                               
buffer was  proposed, and  in 2010 there  were four  proposals to                                                               
BOG for wolf buffer zones.   However, BOG eliminated the existing                                                               
buffer and adopted a six-year  moratorium on the consideration of                                                               
further  related   proposals.    Dr.  Steiner   noted  the  issue                                                               
continues to  be contentious; in  fact, the BOG process  will not                                                               
provide  a durable  solution for  the "Denali  watchable wildlife                                                               
issue"  and  is opposed  to  protecting  the economic  values  of                                                               
watchable wildlife.                                                                                                             
2:18:00 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  STEINER  pointed out  if  BOG  enacted  a closed  area,  the                                                               
closure could  easily be rescinded;  after 100 years,  no efforts                                                               
have   been  successful   at   protecting   wildlife  along   the                                                               
northeastern boundary, thus  the need for HB 105  to partially do                                                               
so for  wolves.  The  Denali National Park and  Preserve wildlife                                                               
viewing decline is  a matter of record, yet  hunting and trapping                                                               
continue  along  the  northeastern park  boundary;  although  the                                                               
legal take along  the boundary is limited to four  or five wolves                                                               
per year,  alpha breeding females are  significantly important to                                                               
the  pack.   Since  the  buffer was  rescinded  in  2010, only  5                                                               
percent of  visitors to  the park  have seen  wolves in  the past                                                               
four  years.   He directed  attention  to reports  issued by  the                                                               
National  Park Service  (NPS) provided  in the  committee packet.                                                               
Dr. Steiner  opined the loss of  the buffer is the  primary cause                                                               
of the  reduction, and  the science is  "crystal clear"  that NPS                                                               
studies have shown the take of  the wolves along the boundary has                                                               
reduced the park population, reduced  denning near the Park Road,                                                               
and reduced visitor viewing success.   Although only four to five                                                               
wolves are  taken along the  boundary, the "breeder  loss effect"                                                               
of   a   significant   breeding    individual   can   cause   the                                                               
disintegration of a family group  as evidenced by the Grant Creek                                                               
family group that  suffered the loss of its  last pregnant female                                                               
in 2012,  and shrank from  fifteen to  three wolves in  one year.                                                               
In 2015 and  2016, the breeder loss effect occurred  again in the                                                               
East Fork,  or Toklat, family group  which failed to pup  and den                                                               
after its  pregnant female was  killed, leading to the  demise of                                                               
one of the  longest studied mammal groups  in scientific history,                                                               
felt  in  the  scientific  and  conservation  communities  as  an                                                               
unnecessary and unfortunate  loss.  He restated  the economics of                                                               
wildlife viewing are  greater than the economic  value of hunting                                                               
and trapping the same animals.                                                                                                  
2:24:04 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  STEINER   reviewed  statistics  related  to   total  visitor                                                               
spending in  Anchorage and  Fairbanks credited  to the  park, and                                                               
other national park statistics.   He cautioned that not including                                                               
all  lands  with  the  boundaries of  the  bill  will  complicate                                                               
enforcement and  recommended HB 105  include not just  state land                                                               
but all land  as well.  To  those who argue six  million acres is                                                               
sufficient for the  park, he pointed out only  the original Mount                                                               
McKinley  National Park  boundary  of  approximately two  million                                                               
acres  is closed  to hunting  and  trapping, and  the other  four                                                               
million  acres are  open  to subsistence  and  sport hunting  and                                                               
trapping; further, the few hunters  and trappers displaced by the                                                               
bill  would retain  access  to  millions of  acres  of state  and                                                               
federal  lands  north, east,  and  south  of the  affected  area.                                                               
Finally,  he  stated  there  is  public  support  within  Alaska,                                                               
nationally, and  globally for the permanent  protection of Denali                                                               
National Park  and Preserve  wildlife along  the boundary  of the                                                               
park as  evidenced by petitions,  written testimony, and  a local                                                               
2:30:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  noted  his   interest  in  other  large                                                               
animals,  and asked  for an  estimate of  sustainable populations                                                               
for sheep and caribou in the park and surrounding areas.                                                                        
CO-CHAIR  TARR  inquired  as  to  the  population  estimate  [for                                                               
wolves] at which collapse would occur.                                                                                          
DR. STEINER, in response to  Representative Rauscher, said he was                                                               
unaware  of a  sustainable population  objective for  any of  the                                                               
wildlife populations  in the  park.  He  deferred to  NPS biology                                                               
staff who  primarily manage wildlife  in the park.   However, the                                                               
bill  is about  the viewing  ability of  park wildlife  along the                                                               
Park Road system  for the visitors to the park,  and is not about                                                               
the  park's  populations  of wolves,  bears,  or  other  animals.                                                               
Further, the  bill seeks  to enhance and  sustain the  viewing of                                                               
wolves  along the  Park  Road  and to  impose  a substantial  and                                                               
sufficient protected area.  The number  of wolves is not the only                                                               
measure  to  judge the  health  of  a  wolf population,  and  the                                                               
integrity of  family groups is  vital to  game management.   On a                                                               
broad scale, game management unit  20 is bigger than many states;                                                               
however, the bill  can protect the pack integrity for  the two or                                                               
three essential family groups for viewing in the park.                                                                          
2:36:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER cautioned  the cause  and effect  of the                                                               
bill  should not  be  adverse.   Reading  from  a publication  by                                                               
Kimberly  Titus, Division  of  Wildlife  Conservation, ADF&G,  he                                                               
relayed  former   Governor  Knowles  established   three  guiding                                                               
principles  that  must  be  met  for  wolf  control  to  proceed:                                                               
programs must be based on  sound science; cost effective; broadly                                                               
accepted by  the public [document not  provided].  Representative                                                               
Rauscher  urged the  committee  to search  for  sound science  in                                                               
order  to recognize  the  cause and  effect of  the  bill on  the                                                               
buffer zone, as well as in the park.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO noted that the  number of visitors to the                                                               
park set  a record last  year and another record  is anticipated;                                                               
he inquired as  to whether research has attached a  number to the                                                               
lack of wolf viewing in Denali National Park and Preserve.                                                                      
DR.  STEINER  answered  visitors  to  Yellowstone  National  Park                                                               
(Yellowstone)  have a  45-85 percent  chance to  see wolves,  and                                                               
wolf  viewing  has  been   valued  at  approximately  thirty-five                                                               
million  dollars  per year.    He  estimated  the value  of  wolf                                                               
viewing in  Denali National Park  and Preserve to be  millions of                                                               
dollars  to tens  of  millions  of dollars,  in  contrast to  the                                                               
commercial  value of  five wolves  taken,  which would  be a  few                                                               
thousand dollars.   He  acknowledged placing  a value  on certain                                                               
experiences is difficult.  Further,  additional losses are caused                                                               
by dissatisfied visitors.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO asked  whether low  ungulate populations                                                               
of moose  and caribou in ADF&G  game management unit 20C,  on the                                                               
west  side of  the  Nenana  River, have  an  impact  on the  wolf                                                               
2:42:54 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. STEINER  agreed ungulate populations  have an effect  as they                                                               
are  the  primary prey;  in  winter,  wolves  rely on  moose  and                                                               
caribou carrion from winter-kill.   The Denali caribou population                                                               
is  in a  depression,  and  it is  no  longer  permitted to  take                                                               
caribou; however,  snowfall does  not have a  direct correlation,                                                               
but is  a factor  in the availability  of winter-kill.   Although                                                               
natural factors  and wildlife  are a  complex system,  he advised                                                               
there is  simplicity in  reducing the loss  of a  few significant                                                               
2:45:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO informed  the committee  game management                                                               
unit 20C  has had a  closed caribou season  for over 30  years on                                                               
the east side  of the Nenana River, and advised  that there is no                                                               
take within the  park, or on the north side,  but there still are                                                               
no caribou.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  questioned whether  there are  other ways                                                               
to enhance the affected wolf pack.                                                                                              
DR.  STEINER  acknowledged   management  cannot  control  natural                                                               
causations  for fluctuations  in  wildlife  populations, but  can                                                               
alter human interactions,  and prohibit the limited  take of four                                                               
to five animals each year.   In addition, NPS restricts access to                                                               
wolf den sites  along the road, and if the  wolf family groups in                                                               
the  northeastern section  of  the park  recover,  or new  groups                                                               
form, and begin  to den along the Park Road,  the visitor viewing                                                               
success  will  return  to  40-50  percent  or  higher.    He  was                                                               
encouraged  to hear  of  high  wolf density  east  of the  Nenana                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  asked how NPS manages  to protect wolves                                                               
in  Yellowstone since  its park  boundaries span  Idaho, Montana,                                                               
and Wyoming.   Also, if a buffer zone is  granted, she questioned                                                               
what  would  prevent the  wolves  from  being  lured to  the  new                                                               
boundary further east.                                                                                                          
2:51:03 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. STEINER  was unsure of the  relationship between Yellowstone,                                                               
Idaho, Montana, and  Wyoming; however, last year  the governor of                                                               
Montana established a 300,000 acre  bison conservation area along                                                               
Yellowstone's  boundary, which  is a  model for  how a  state can                                                               
cooperate  with a  national park.   Wolves  were reintroduced  in                                                               
Yellowstone,  and  a  comparison  of  Denali  National  Park  and                                                               
Preserve  and Yellowstone  wolves  is provided  in the  committee                                                               
packet.   He acknowledged  there is no  perfect boundary  for the                                                               
park;  however, the  340,000  acre  Denali Wildlife  Conservation                                                               
Area proposed  in 2016  would encompass  almost 90-95  percent of                                                               
the wolf forays  from the eastern edge of the  park.  Dr. Steiner                                                               
advised  the  area  designated  by   the  bill  is  a  legitimate                                                               
compromise that has  been proposed multiple times,  and is easily                                                               
defined  by mountain  peaks  from a  public  use and  enforcement                                                               
2:54:12 PM                                                                                                                    
VIC VAN BALLENBERGHE  said he is a wildlife  biologist who served                                                               
on BOG  three times between 1985  and 2002.  In  2002, during the                                                               
time he was  serving on the board, a buffer  was created adjacent                                                               
to the northeast  corner of Denali National Park  and Preserve to                                                               
protect park wolves from hunting  and trapping when they ventured                                                               
out of the  park in winter.  Previously, wolf  packs were reduced                                                               
by legal and  illegal hunting and trapping.  The  creation of the                                                               
buffer was strongly supported by  the public.  Other buffer areas                                                               
had  been created,  starting  in 1992,  including  one along  the                                                               
Stampede Trail,  but from  2002 to 2010  more wolves  were taken,                                                               
indicating  that  the buffers  were  too  small.   In  2010,  the                                                               
National  Park  Service  and   other  organizations  proposed  to                                                               
enlarge  the  northern buffer,  and  in  spite of  strong  public                                                               
support, BOG  rejected the proposals  and rescinded  the existing                                                               
buffers.     In  response  to   an  earlier  question,   Mr.  Van                                                               
Ballenberghe said  the Nenana Canyon  buffer created in  2002 did                                                               
not  have a  sunset  clause, but  was rescinded  by  a BOG  vote.                                                               
During the  past six  years, sightings of  wolves along  the Park                                                               
Road has dropped;  key wolf packs have  been disrupted, including                                                               
the  apparent elimination  of a  pack studied  for 77  years, and                                                               
frequently  seen  in  the  park.   Petitions  to  BOG  requesting                                                               
emergency  closures were  rejected; however,  after the  six-year                                                               
moratorium, BOG  will again consider  this issue.  He  opined BOG                                                               
will  not change  its  position  and act  to  create an  adequate                                                               
buffer.  He  stated there are many  biological, sociological, and                                                               
economic reasons  why buffers are  needed and  directed attention                                                               
to HB  105 supporting  documents found  in the  committee packet.                                                               
At this time,  a permanent solution such as HB  105 is needed; he                                                               
expressed  his strong  support for  the  bill and  urged for  its                                                               
passage.   Mr. Van Ballenberghe  related his  personal experience                                                               
as  an Alaskan:   Alaska  has a  diversity of  animals not  found                                                               
elsewhere in the  U.S., such as grizzly bears,  polar bears, musk                                                               
ox, and caribou,  but wild wolves remain elusive.   Over 42 years                                                               
and many miles of travel in Alaska,  he said he has only seen one                                                               
wolf along  the road  system due to  hunting, trapping,  and wolf                                                               
control programs.  Over 36 years  of travel in the park, previous                                                               
to the recent disruption, he saw  dozens of wolves near the road,                                                               
which  is the  only  opportunity  for one  who  is interested  in                                                               
seeing  and   hearing  wolves  along   the  road  system.     Mr.                                                               
Ballenberghe  said  HB  105  can   provide  what  BOG  will  not:                                                               
Preserve  the  unique opportunity  to  experience  wolves in  one                                                               
small place that people can access.                                                                                             
[HB 105 was held over.]                                                                                                         
3:02:01 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Resources Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 3:02 p.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB105 vers D Buffer zone.pdf HRES 2/10/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Fiscal Note DFG 1.pdf HRES 2/10/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Fiscal Note DNR 1.pdf HRES 2/10/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Fiscal Note DPS 1.pdf HRES 2/10/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB 105 R. Steiner testimony 2-10-17.pdf HRES 2/10/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents.pdf HRES 2/10/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Letter in Opposition.pdf HRES 2/10/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Letters in Support.pdf HRES 2/10/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Sponsor Statement.pdf HRES 2/10/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105