Legislature(2017 - 2018)Anch LIO AUDITORIUM

09/10/2018 02:00 PM RESOURCES

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Audio Topic
02:00:50 PM Start
02:02:26 PM Overview: Coastal Resiliency Management
03:25:43 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Joint with Senate Resources
+ Overview of Coastal Resiliency Management by TELECONFERENCED
Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys,
Dept. of Natural Resources
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
              SENATE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
               HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       September 10, 2018                                                                                       
                           2:00 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATE RESOURCES                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Cathy Giessel, Chair                                                                                                   
 Senator John Coghill, Vice Chair                                                                                               
 Senator Bert Stedman                                                                                                           
 Senator Kevin Meyer                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE RESOURCES                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Andy Josephson, Co-Chair                                                                                        
 Representative Geran Tarr, Co-Chair                                                                                            
 Representative John Lincoln, Vice Chair, online                                                                                
 Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                
 Representative Justin Parish, online                                                                                           
 Representative Chris Birch                                                                                                     
 Representative George Rauscher, online                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATE RESOURCES                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                      
 Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                      
 Senator Click Bishop                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE RESOURCES                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
 Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                  
 Representative David Talerico                                                                                                  
 Representative Mike Chenault                                                                                                   
 Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Former Representative Kurt Olson                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
OVERVIEW: COASTAL RESILIENCY MANAGEMENT                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
KEN PAPP, Deputy Director                                                                                                       
Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (DGGS)                                                                           
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided an  overview of  coastal resiliency                                                             
management.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JACQUELYN OVERBECK, Manager                                                                                                     
Coastal Hazards Program                                                                                                         
Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys                                                                                  
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:  Provided  an   overview  of  DGGS'  coastal                                                             
flooding and erosion program.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:00:50 PM                                                                                                                  
CHAIR CATHY  GIESSEL called the  joint meeting of the  Senate and                                                             
House Resources  Standing Committees  to order  at 2:00  p.m. and                                                               
said this is  a subject of particular  interest to Representative                                                               
Tarr who chairs the House  Resources Committee, so she would turn                                                               
the gavel over to her for this meeting.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GIESSEL  said  Senators  Coghill  and  Stedman  were  also                                                               
present at the call to order.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  TARR announced  that  Representatives Birch,  Drummond,                                                               
Co-Chair Josephson,  and herself, Co-Chair Tarr  were present and                                                               
online  were  Representatives   Parish,  Rauscher,  and  Lincoln.                                                               
Former Representative Kurt Olson was in the audience.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
^Overview: Coastal Resiliency Management                                                                                        
            Overview: Coastal Resiliency Management                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:02:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  TARR  said today  the  committees  would listen  to  an                                                               
overview  of the  Coastal Resiliency  Management  Program from  a                                                               
number of departments.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL welcomed Senator Meyer to the committee.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:03:27 PM                                                                                                                    
KEN   PAPP,  Deputy   Director,   Division   of  Geological   and                                                               
Geophysical  Surveys  (DGGS),  Department  of  Natural  Resources                                                               
(DNR), Anchorage,  Alaska, said  before getting started  with the                                                               
coastal hazards portion  of the presentation he  would provide an                                                               
overview  of  some of  the  other  hazards work  they  department                                                               
performs  starting  with  volcanic  hazards. In  2017,  the  [Ted                                                               
Stevens Anchorage]  International Airport  that is ranked  as the                                                               
second busiest  cargo airport  in the  U.S., and  currently deals                                                               
mostly with  flights to and from  Asia and the airspace  above it                                                               
is  potentially threatened  by over  54  active volcanoes,  about                                                               
half of  which are not monitored  at this time. This  is the main                                                               
reason why the  Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO)  was formed back                                                               
in 1988.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Four DGGS staff  are involved in the larger  group effort between                                                               
the U.S.  Geological Survey (USGS)  and the University  of Alaska                                                               
Fairbanks  Geophysical   Institute.  The  four  DGGS   staff  are                                                               
dedicated  to  geologic  mapping   and  research  on  the  active                                                               
volcanoes; they also perform helicopter  and fuel procurement and                                                               
logistics  tasks.  They  also  work   very  hard  to  communicate                                                               
information  about  active  volcanoes  to the  public  and  other                                                               
agencies. Some of the recent  volcano geologic maps are displayed                                                               
on the slide.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:05:42 PM                                                                                                                    
The procurement  and logistics portion  of what their  group does                                                               
is  support  for  the  entire observatory;  all  of  their  field                                                               
programs are  done from June  through September. The  AVO website                                                               
is  the  main  vehicle  through which  information  about  active                                                               
volcanoes is provided to the public.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. PAPP said in FY18,  the website received over 60 million-page                                                               
views, almost 10 million more than  the previous year. One of the                                                               
recent  AVO   achievements  is  creation  of   the  Alaska  Tetra                                                               
database, tetra being  basically busted up rocks  that have flown                                                               
out  of  the volcano.  This  is  important because  it  basically                                                               
allows scientists  to understand the potential  and capability of                                                               
some of  the active  volcanoes, basically  the extent  over which                                                               
ash might fall.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
He  said  DGGS staff  also  study  active faulting,  earthquakes,                                                               
tsunamic inundation  mapping; they also do  landslide mapping and                                                               
response. They study snow and  ice hazards such as avalanches and                                                               
glacial  outburst floods  and perform  studies on  permafrost and                                                               
groundwater and  also take part  in coastal erosion  and flooding                                                               
research.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:08:07 PM                                                                                                                    
Obviously, as  geologists they  care about the  rocks, but  it is                                                               
really difficult  to see them  underneath dense forest  and thick                                                               
vegetation. So,  one tool  they typically use  to better  see the                                                               
geology is light  detection and ranging (LiDAR),  a remote sensor                                                               
that detects light  and range that can be mounted  an aircraft or                                                               
put on an  ATV or someone's back. It sends  pulses of laser light                                                               
through a target  that gets returned to the  sensor and recorded.                                                               
It  has   the  capability  of  producing   some  extremely  high-                                                               
resolution  digital   elevation  models   for  events   like  the                                                               
landslides on Wishbone Hill and Girdwood.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Often  times, they  perform  these LiDAR  surveys  when there  is                                                               
"leaf-off" and  no snow  to better see  the rocks  underneath the                                                               
vegetation.  Some  other  applications include  permafrost,  lava                                                               
flows, erosion studies, flooding, and faults.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:09:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN editorialized that  the landslide photos on slide                                                               
3 were taken in  Sitka and that one slide was  where a house once                                                               
stood and  a building inspector  getting away from the  slide. He                                                               
said  that area  was mapped  as a  slide zone  years ago  and was                                                               
deleted out of the subdivision  as not suitable for building. The                                                               
planning  commission a  few decades  ago  allowed several  "green                                                               
belts" along that  route. Time passed, and  personnel changed and                                                               
some  of those  parcels, particularly  this one  - a  known slide                                                               
zone - were subdivided and  subsequently built on. This shouldn't                                                               
have happened.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
He also stated that constituents  around coastal Alaska are being                                                               
subject  to  escalating  regulations, building  restrictions  and                                                               
fees to  subsidize a $20-30 billion  Federal Emergency Management                                                               
Agency  (FEMA) deficit  from Houston,  Louisiana, Florida,  and a                                                               
couple  other places.  Sitka  has not  reported  floods from  the                                                               
ocean and  people have lived  there for 10,000  years. Rebounding                                                               
has been going on that has  changed some elevations, but the fees                                                               
just  seem to  be filling  a deficit  and spreading  the customer                                                               
base to Alaska  to do that. If  this was a real  flood issue, the                                                               
communities  would   have  dealt  with   it  a  long   time  ago.                                                               
Furthermore,  no cannery  was ever  built in  Southeast that  has                                                               
since gone under  water, and according to these  flood zone maps,                                                               
a lot  of them would  be under water  along with the  boat houses                                                               
that were built above high-high tide.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR  recapped the topics Senator  Stedman mentioned and                                                               
asked for comments.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. PAPP responded that the  next slide on Alaska's coastline was                                                               
of recent progress in the  geologic hazard areas. They had worked                                                               
very  hard  with  the Department  of  Transportation  and  Public                                                               
Facilities  (DOTPF) in  the Yukon  River Dalton  Highway area  to                                                               
better understand  the surface geology,  the permafrost,  and the                                                               
local hydrology.  This is in support  of infrastructure planning,                                                               
both  current and  into the  future. They  hope to  do additional                                                               
field work in 2019. In response  to Senator Stedman, he said they                                                               
are  analyzing new  LiDAR  data  acquired in  the  Sitka area  to                                                               
create a hazards map for landslides there.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:16:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN  commented that  the impact  of the  coming study                                                               
will target areas that are less  stable than others and that will                                                               
encourage insurance  companies to ring fence  up to a mile  and a                                                               
half  around the  slide zones.  That makes  it very  difficult to                                                               
insure a mortgage; it will  devastate property values and put the                                                               
community in a  precarious position: being shoved  up against the                                                               
mountains on one side and ocean  on the other. The flood zone map                                                               
is  out your  front door  and the  slide zone  map out  your back                                                               
door, and there won't be a whole lot of property left.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
He asked Alaska  Housing Financing Corporation (AHFC)  to look at                                                               
this issue to  see if they could underwrite  individually some of                                                               
the mortgages and risk adjust if  need be, they are going to shut                                                               
down  the mortgage  market  for  existing homes  as  well as  new                                                               
construction.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:19:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH said  one of  his Juneau  constituents was                                                               
subject  to a  flood zone  designation but  lived in  a protected                                                               
harbor.  The  explanation  that  makes the  most  sense  is  that                                                               
Alaskan properties are  being unfairly targeted to make  up for a                                                               
shortfall in FEMA's budget.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. PAPP  answered that in  2018 made two  publications regarding                                                               
tsunamis inundation  maps (slide  4): one  is for  Haines; others                                                               
have  been  published  for Kodiak,  Juneau,  Skagway.  They  also                                                               
produced permanent  flooding maps  for Valdez,  Chenega, Chignik,                                                               
and  Chignik Lagoon.  In FY15  they produced  32 new  reports and                                                               
peer review publications  on geologic hazards and  that is double                                                               
from the  previous year.  So, they  are working  hard to  get the                                                               
information out to those who need it.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Lastly, in  collaboration with the Alaska  Seismic Hazards Safety                                                               
Commission,  Mr.  Papp said,  they  have  published on  the  DGGS                                                               
website  a very  important  report that  outlines  all they  know                                                               
about active faults and potential seismic hazards in Alaska.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:22:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  TARR   asked  how  their  work   is  affecting  housing                                                               
insurance  and what  kind of  coordination is  taking place  with                                                               
FEMA.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PAPP replied  that  they coordinate  efforts  with FEMA  and                                                               
other federal  agencies so that efforts  aren't duplicated. Also,                                                               
particularly for  coastal hazards and erosion  issues, a critical                                                               
part of what they do is  work very closely with community leaders                                                               
to help them understand the information they produce.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR asked if they  interact with insurance underwriters                                                               
and  who  advocates   on  behalf  of  the   homeowners  in  those                                                               
geographic locations.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PAPP  replied  that DGGS  doesn't  interact  with  insurance                                                               
underwriters.  Community leaders  would deal  with those  issues;                                                               
DGGS basically  just provides scientific information  that can be                                                               
used by anyone.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN said for FEMA you opt  in, and the hook is if you                                                               
don't  opt in,  you're not  going  to have  access to  federally-                                                               
backed mortgages. That  is why he has  started having discussions                                                               
with  AHFC. Sitka  is a  very good  example of  the not-so-subtle                                                               
kind of  game they  are playing.  Premiums are  high as  a couple                                                               
thousand dollars a month and have a minimum escalation clause.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:26:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH asked  what manner  of formal  action from                                                               
the legislature would be most helpful in resolving this.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. PAPP said he would get back to them on that.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:28:04 PM                                                                                                                    
JACQUELYN  OVERBECK, Manager,  Coastal Hazards  Program, Division                                                               
of  Geological  and  Geophysical Surveys  (DGGS),  Department  of                                                               
Natural Resources  (DNR), Anchorage,  Alaska, said  their primary                                                               
focus is on  coastal flooding and erosion.  Alaska's coastline is                                                               
40,000  miles  long; that  is  more  than  1.5 times  around  the                                                               
equator.  It makes  up about  40  percent of  the U.S.  coastline                                                               
including   the  Great   Lakes   region  and   has  159   coastal                                                               
communities.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:28:54 PM                                                                                                                    
The  coastline has  permafrost (ground  with  a temperature  that                                                               
remains below 32  degrees, which is the freezing  point of water,                                                               
for two or  more consecutive years). Permafrost  is vulnerable to                                                               
rising  air and  sea  temperatures for  ice-rich  soils. Much  of                                                               
Alaska's coastal infrastructure and  the coastline are subject to                                                               
steep  increasing  temperatures.  Alaska's northern  and  western                                                               
coastlines have  sea ice forming  along it in the  winter months.                                                               
In recent years during the  regular fall and winter storm seasons                                                               
the extent  and thickness of it  has been at record  lows. Storms                                                               
that  occur this  time  of  year gain  energy  in  the ocean  and                                                               
transfer that  energy to the  coastal communities if the  sea ice                                                               
isn't  present, which  results in  flooding and  erosion in  low-                                                               
lying areas.  November 2017 is  the lowest  extent of sea  ice on                                                               
record. Even  into February the  Bering Straits had open  ice and                                                               
storm waves  were able to  impact the community and  small island                                                               
of Diomede.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:30:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. OVERBECK  said that  Alaska has to  account for  relative sea                                                               
level  changes  because  the  entire coastline  is,  such  as  in                                                               
Southeast  Alaska where  land is  actually rising  up out  of the                                                               
water, outpacing global sea level  rise resulting in a cumulative                                                               
sea level decline. That's also the  region of Alaska that has the                                                               
most monitoring  equipment and  the longest  records in  order to                                                               
determine what those  rates are. In northern  and western Alaska,                                                               
few  studies are  available showing  relative sea  level rise  in                                                               
comparison to that.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL asked  her to comment on a common  question that as                                                               
the sea ice melts the sea level will rise.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK  answered that relative  sea levels are  expected to                                                               
rise and are  documented to have been rising, but  there are many                                                               
contributing factors including melting of  ice on land as well as                                                               
in  the sea  and other  contributing factors  that she  would get                                                               
back to her on.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL observed  that if sea ice melting  raised the level                                                               
of the  ocean, then  glasses with  ice water  in them  would over                                                               
flow  as the  ice melted,  but that  is not  what happens.  Water                                                               
while  it  is frozen  will  displace  the  same amount  of  water                                                               
consistently. She  could see how  land-based glacier  ice melting                                                               
could contribute, to a minor degree,  to the ocean level, but sea                                                               
ice melting does not raise the  level of the ocean, as a physical                                                               
principle.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK said she will get back to her.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:33:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON   said  he   wanted  Ms.  Overbeck   to  feel                                                               
comfortable in responding to Senator  Giessel's question. He said                                                               
legislators look at  myriad legislation and try to  be experts in                                                               
every field, whereas Ms. Overbeck  spends her time on this issue.                                                               
He asked  if she agrees  based on  her reading and  research with                                                               
the Senator's statement.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OVERBECK said  she was  not prepared  to answer  the chair's                                                               
comment, at  this time, from  the perspective of her  office that                                                               
considers   any  published   research  and   takes  on-the-ground                                                               
measurements. She  wouldn't know the contributing  factors to sea                                                               
level rise  in a particular region  off the top of  her head, but                                                               
she would really like to get back to them on it.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  responded that  before the comment  was made,                                                               
Ms. Overbeck said  that, in fact, relative sea  level rise (RSLR)                                                               
was attributable in part to mankind.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OVERBECK  responded  that  it   was  not  her  intention  to                                                               
attribute sea level  changes to anything at this  time but wanted                                                               
to speak to the observations that are made on the ground.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:35:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  said there  looks to be  significant sea                                                               
level fall  in Kodiak, Cook  Inlet, just north of  Prince William                                                               
Sound near the Yakutat area (referring to slide 8).                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK said that is correct.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  asked if she  had some idea why  that is                                                               
happening in those particular places.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK replied  that is occurring in  those regions because                                                               
of  the  relative  motion  of  the  land  there,  which  is  very                                                               
tectonically active, actually lifting up  out of the water faster                                                               
than global sea levels change.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  TARR commented  that arrows  are  sized differently  to                                                               
show the relative impacts.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:36:59 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. OVERBECK  agreed and summarized  that the map  shows measured                                                               
land-based  GPS data  and  modeled water  levels  for the  entire                                                               
region  of Alaska.  The  positive arrows  show  the relative  sea                                                               
level rise as  compared to vertical land motion  and the downward                                                               
arrows show the relative sea  level decline. The magnitude of the                                                               
arrows is also associated with that.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:37:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN said the University  of Alaska did an analysis on                                                               
sea level movement in Southeast  and attributed it to the melting                                                               
of the ice, especially around  Mount Fairweather and the glaciers                                                               
where land is rebounding. The Forest  Service has also done a lot                                                               
of work  with the melting of  the ice. Apparently, there  used to                                                               
be land  masses in  front of  Sitka, Prince  of Wales,  and other                                                               
areas.  Some of  that land  has gone  down, which  is now  in the                                                               
ocean, and some has gone up.  Village sites are being found up to                                                               
300 feet that is being attributed to the melting of the ice.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL said  that Norway has multiple  evidence of village                                                               
sites that  actually became  more distant from  the coast  as the                                                               
ice cap melted  and that the downward movement  in Prince William                                                               
Sound and  "Earthquake Park" in  Anchorage were due to  a sizable                                                               
seismic  event. She  was just  trying to  look at  the sea  level                                                               
issue from a standpoint of what  they know about movement of land                                                               
having nothing  to do with  the political comments  about climate                                                               
change.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR asked Ms. Overbeck  if her office is collecting all                                                               
of the data  for their modeling or is it  coordinating with other                                                               
divisions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK replied her office  doesn't collect any data that is                                                               
shown  in this  map.  It  is all  published  information and  she                                                               
offered to  provide the references.  She added that in  2009 lots                                                               
of government reports came  out discussing Alaska's vulnerability                                                               
to  coastal flooding  and erosion.  These were  the only  reports                                                               
that   were  available   that   actually   pointed  to   specific                                                               
communities  that  might be  at  risk.  This included  government                                                               
reporting  from the  Government Accountability  Office, the  U.S.                                                               
Army  Corps  of  Engineers,  and  the  state's  immediate  action                                                               
working  group.   This  map  doesn't   tell  them   the  relative                                                               
vulnerability to  these hazards and their  magnitude. Since those                                                               
reports  are   almost  10   years  old,   there  could   be  some                                                               
discrepancies  between what  is known  today from  what this  map                                                               
shows.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR asked her to differentiate the coastal types.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK answered there are  three different types of coastal                                                               
settings: those  exposed to wave  activities (communities  set on                                                               
the open  ocean without any  land mass fronting  them), sheltered                                                               
coastlines (with land  mass in front of an  ocean community), and                                                               
river  communities   that  are   tidally  influenced   (near  the                                                               
coastline  that  might  experience  local storm  surge  and  high                                                               
tides).                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:42:30 PM                                                                                                                    
Slides  9 and  10  illustrate what  some  communities around  the                                                               
state are  dealing with  and some of  the infrastructure  that is                                                               
impacted by  coastal flooding and erosion.  She visited Quinhagak                                                               
in June and took photos showing  the erosion that is occurring in                                                               
front of  the sewage  lagoon. The community  of Dillingham  has a                                                               
sewage lagoon  that is  also near  an eroding  coastline. Coastal                                                               
storms have  been documented to  erode as much 10-20  feet during                                                               
an individual storm.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Many dump sites  in western Alaska are also  located near coastal                                                               
rivers and  coastlines. The community  of Kotlik  dumps materials                                                               
that were  actually floating in the  river at a high  tide during                                                               
their site visit.  The community that operates this  dump site is                                                               
able to  get heavy equipment  into it  when the river  is frozen.                                                               
However, if  the river  doesn't freeze, they  can't do  that. So,                                                               
they end up  having issues with dump materials  flooding into the                                                               
river.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK  said the  Nunapitchuk primary  dump site  is fenced                                                               
around the  lake area,  but it is  hydrologically connected  to a                                                               
lake on  the right, which is  also connected to the  entire river                                                               
system and dump materials move back and forth between them.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:45:00 PM                                                                                                                    
Other pictures from 2013 showed the  Gambell dump site that had a                                                               
breach in the  fence where dump materials had  been released from                                                               
the  dump during  storm events.  Slide  11 had  some examples  of                                                               
residential homes in Kwigillingok,  a very low-lying community on                                                               
the Kuskokwim  Delta, which experienced  a storm in  January last                                                               
year, showing flooded boardwalks that connect the community.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:45:46 PM                                                                                                                    
The  community  of Golovin  is  set  on  a low-lying  sand  spit,                                                               
primarily where  much of the  residential facilities are  as well                                                               
as some  other infrastructure. They experience  regular flooding,                                                               
as well.  Ms. Overbeck showed a  photo from 2011 during  the last                                                               
major Bering  Sea storm  that occurred  in western  Alaska, which                                                               
impacted many communities along the coastline.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH said he had been  in and out of Point Hope a                                                               
number of times and it has  a well-earned reputation of being one                                                               
of  the  longest   continuously-inhabited  communities  in  North                                                               
America.  He asked  Ms.  Overbeck if  she has  data  on how  long                                                               
communities  have  been  established  to   get  a  sense  of  how                                                               
transitional some of these locations are.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK answered  that the length of time for  which a place                                                               
has been  occupied is not  part of their analysis.  However, they                                                               
are collecting  historical aerial imagery  that goes back  to the                                                               
1950s.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR asked if traditional  cultural knowledge is used in                                                               
their analysis.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:50:02 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. OVERBECK  replied their  program takes  traditional knowledge                                                               
and  stories  into  account and  corroborates  them  with  ground                                                               
surveys  and other  data.  More examples  of  public and  private                                                               
infrastructure being impacted in  Utqiaqvik (formerly Barrow) and                                                               
Newton were pictured on slide 13.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OVERBECK  said  she  just visited  Kotzebue  Sound  and  the                                                               
Community  of Deering  (slide 14)  that  experienced storms  last                                                               
year resulting  erosion up  to the power  lines that  connect the                                                               
western  part  of  the  community, which  would  be  the  airport                                                               
facilities,  the  tank  farm, the  sewage  location,  and  health                                                               
clinic, as well as some residential facilities.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:50:59 PM                                                                                                                    
A site  visit to  Kotzebue in  July 2018  revealed a  small storm                                                               
event that  flooded part of a  road. The local city  planner said                                                               
those events are anticipated in  fall and winter, but it happened                                                               
in July, which was abnormal.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The program visited  Shishmaref in 2012 and 2017,  and the photos                                                               
on slide  15 show the 100  feet of erosion on  the beach relative                                                               
to the snow  fence in those five years. Then,  after their visit,                                                               
in November  a storm event resulted  in erosion of the  road that                                                               
provides access to the local dump site.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Port Heiden  on the Alaska  Peninsula relocated in the  1980s due                                                               
to erosion;  the road  south is the  only infrastructure  that is                                                               
left.  This area  has no  permafrost; it's  all made  of volcanic                                                               
materials, a very  light pumice, and waves erode  the pumice very                                                               
easily and quickly. The monitoring  station there has been up for                                                               
about three years.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:53:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. OVERBECK said  she provided a lot of examples  of the changes                                                               
happening  around the  state to  give the  committee a  better of                                                               
idea of  what is going on.  Now she would talk  more specifically                                                               
about  what DGGS  does  in  working with  these  hazards. A  wide                                                               
variety of state and federal  agencies do engineering work in the                                                               
coastal zone;  they do  community planning,  disaster preparation                                                               
and mitigation.  Those groups rely on  DGGS data to fill  in gaps                                                               
in their information.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:55:46 PM                                                                                                                    
They collect orthoimagery, aerial  imagery that is collected from                                                               
a fixed-wing  aircraft, a drone,  or satellite that  is corrected                                                               
to the earth's surface so that  measurements can be made from the                                                               
photograph. Using a LiDAR system,  they collect topography, which                                                               
is elevation  data, and bathymetric  data, land  elevations below                                                               
the  water surface.  This is  primarily  needed for  any sort  of                                                               
modeling  of the  near  shore  coastal zone  for  both flood  and                                                               
erosion  issues. Water  level data  is collected  using a  sensor                                                               
that is  set out in a  community setting that documents  not only                                                               
the highs and  lows of the tides but also  the very highest water                                                               
level events  and storm surges.  Sea ice  and wave data  are also                                                               
collected  since they  are connected  to storm  surge. This  data                                                               
helps them  understand how storms  are going to impact  the coast                                                               
line.  The Continually  Operating  Reference System  (CORS) is  a                                                               
system  that   is  placed  in   the  ground  and   collects  data                                                               
continuously to  measure the relative  land motion.  Their aerial                                                               
and ground  surveys need the  corrections from these  stations in                                                               
order to accurately see what is happening.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR  provided a time  check and asked how  using drones                                                               
improves the ability to get data.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OVERBECK   answered  that  using   drones  allows   them  to                                                               
continuously collect an  entire area of elevation  data. They are                                                               
also able to get an image of  that area, as compared to going out                                                               
with one survey rod and  collecting those data sets individually.                                                               
Local  individuals are  interested  in using  drones  as part  of                                                               
potential  community-based monitoring  programs that  collect the                                                               
data for the department.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  TARR commented  that the  legislature is  interested in                                                               
maximizing the use  of those technologies, because  they know the                                                               
data  is needed,  but the  cost of  sending people  out to  these                                                               
remote locations is prohibitive and sometimes even prevents it.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OVERBECK said  DGGS collects  data by  using remote  sensing                                                               
methods and  either contracts it  out or collects  it themselves.                                                               
Any drone survey  requires some level of ground  control in order                                                               
to  have  an  accurate  product, but  ground  control  can  cover                                                               
multiple  surveys. DGGS  does  equipment  installations and  puts                                                               
efforts  into a  community-based  monitoring program  (originally                                                               
funded by  Alaska Sea  Grants in  collaboration with  the Bristol                                                               
Bay  Native  Association)  as well  as  working  with  individual                                                               
tribes in  Bristol Bay.  They train community  members on  how to                                                               
continue the monitoring  and to catalogue the  data for long-term                                                               
storage.  She  provides  technical   assistance  as  well  as  an                                                               
understanding  of Alaska's  coastal data  to other  agencies that                                                               
are investing in topo mapping Alaska.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OVERBECK said  DGGS houses  all the  elevation data  that is                                                               
available  in  the  state  in  one  location  regardless  of  who                                                               
collects it  and provides it to  the public in a  format they can                                                               
use, primarily through  their elevation data portal.  She has set                                                               
up individual pages for communities  to access data that they are                                                               
helping  to  collect or  that  is  being collected  around  their                                                               
communities.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
She  said   DGGS  helps  with   both  disaster   preparation  and                                                               
mitigation. In  the three  to five days  before a  storm actually                                                               
hits the coastline,  the National Weather Service  is looking for                                                               
forecasts for  that region and  then provides a forecast  for the                                                               
communities. They are  moving from a method  of regional forecast                                                               
to  more  localized  forecasts,   which  provides  more  detailed                                                               
information to individual communities.  DGGS assists with that by                                                               
using  their  color index  map,  which  is  a conversion  of  the                                                               
elevation   data   collected   in   that   area,   infrastructure                                                               
information provided  by the Division  of Community  and Regional                                                               
Affairs on their community profile  map, and a conversion between                                                               
what the  storm surge  model is actually  computing and  the land                                                               
elevation. So,  instead of saying there  is going to be  4-6 feet                                                               
of storm  surge for the Norton  Sound area, a forecaster  can say                                                               
specifically  that   flooding  is   expected  on   Front  Street.                                                               
Seventeen communities  in western  Alaska have these  maps, which                                                               
are created wherever  they have baseline data in order  to do it.                                                               
She offered to provide that information to interested parties.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
She said  that disaster declarations  have been rejected  by FEMA                                                               
because there was no proof  that the event actually happened. So,                                                               
they want  to be able to  give those communities the  capacity to                                                               
document those  disastrous events by providing  survey benchmarks                                                               
on  elevation  models that  give  an  idea  of  what parts  of  a                                                               
community were affected.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OVERBECK  said her  department  just  completed a  community                                                               
planning effort to help update  the State Hazard Mitigation Plan,                                                               
as many local  Hazard Mitigation Plans look to the  State Plan in                                                               
order to be  written. Slide 21 mapped the  communities from which                                                               
they had  data that  could actually  be processed  in conjunction                                                               
with data from  the National Park Service on the  North Slope and                                                               
the U.S. Geological Survey. All  the data from western Alaska was                                                               
compiled  into a  map showing  erosion rates  around communities.                                                               
The community of  Newtok, for instance, erodes 63  feet per year.                                                               
This  data allows  them  to project  shorelines  into the  future                                                               
based on  their historical rates  of erosion  to give an  idea of                                                               
what parts of the coastline are more vulnerable.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:06:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR TARR  asked if  DGGS is planning  to create  a community                                                               
profile  for every  coastal  community they  can,  but right  now                                                               
there  are gaps.  So, eventually  that number  of 17  communities                                                               
will go higher.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK  answered that  they want to  create these  maps for                                                               
about  63 more  communities on  the western  coastline. Some  are                                                               
more at-risk  for flooding than  others, so they have  a priority                                                               
scale  for  mapping  them.  Different layers  of  data  sets  are                                                               
available for  each of  those communities,  and if  Co-chair Tarr                                                               
was  interested in  knowing why  an  individual community  didn't                                                               
have one of those maps, she  could point out which data sets they                                                               
are missing.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:07:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  TARR   asked,  once  these   maps  are  done,   if  the                                                               
responsibility  for  community  planning gets  transferred  as  a                                                               
local responsibility or is the state still involved.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK replied  that some state partners  like the Division                                                               
of Community  and Regional Affairs  work on community  plans, but                                                               
DGGS does not do  any of the local planning.   They work with the                                                               
individuals  who are  doing the  planning, though,  in trying  to                                                               
determine the  best format for  the data and  how it can  be most                                                               
easily ingested.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
She said  many engineering  firms operate  in western  Alaska and                                                               
they  are able  to  use DGGS  data for  any  sort of  engineering                                                               
analysis. One example is the  Newtok Planning Group to which they                                                               
provided  elevation data  that was  used for  planning their  new                                                               
community site. For  any coastal modeling efforts,  they have the                                                               
statewide model  that models  tide and  surge and  other baseline                                                               
data.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:10:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  OVERBECK  concluded  that the  Coastal  Hazards  Program  is                                                               
dedicated  to  fostering   partnerships  among  many  stakeholder                                                               
groups, for example,  the Alaska Water Level Watch  by the Alaska                                                               
Ocean  Observing System  whose  primary goal  is  to improve  the                                                               
technology  and  capabilities  for collecting  water  level  data                                                               
throughout the entire state for  more purposes than just flooding                                                               
and erosion, like navigation to get in and out of communities.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Also,  the Alaska  Geo-spacial Council  has a  coastal strategist                                                               
that  is  jointly  funded by  National  Oceanic  and  Atmospheric                                                               
Administration's  (NOAA)  Office   For  Coastal  Management,  the                                                               
Alaska  Ocean Observing  System,  and the  Department of  Natural                                                               
Resources  (DNR)  that  are developing  a  strategy  for  coastal                                                               
mapping for  Alaska which  is doing  the same  thing: identifying                                                               
who  the stakeholders  are, what  the gaps  in data  are, and  in                                                               
doing  that,  two major  meetings  have  happened with  over  100                                                               
participants both last year and  this year at the Coastal Mapping                                                               
Summit.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK  said she  couldn't list  all of  the collaborators,                                                               
but  most of  their  technical assistance  comes  from NOAA,  the                                                               
National Geodesic Survey, and the National Weather Service.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
She displayed the final slide of contact information.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:12:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON  asked  if   the  Governor's  Climate  Action                                                               
leadership team had consulted her office.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK answered yes, and  she presented to their group this                                                               
last year. A number of  the members are active collaborators with                                                               
the DGGS.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON   observed  that  Unalaska  must   have  been                                                               
situated roughly where  it is, because we know  about the Russian                                                               
experience  there   in  the  late   1700s.  It's   also  commonly                                                               
understood  that villages  used to  move more  but stopped  doing                                                               
that partly  because the  U.S. encouraged them  to be  more fixed                                                               
and sedentary.  Ms. Overbeck mentioned  Port Heiden's  issue back                                                               
in the 1980s,  and he wanted to know if  her historical knowledge                                                               
allowed  her to  say with  confidence that  erosion is  worse now                                                               
than  historical knowledge  suggests  it was  even with  villages                                                               
being more transient then and  that this wasn't happening to this                                                               
extent 100 years ago.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:15:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. OVERBECK replied that their data  goes back only to the 1950s                                                               
and that data would be different  for each location and require a                                                               
detailed analysis.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:16:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH thanked  her for a great  briefing and asked                                                               
who owns all the data and where it resides.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK  replied the  data collected by  the state  is owned                                                               
and housed by the state.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PAPP added  that the  data they  use in  their analysis  are                                                               
publicly available for  anyone for no cost.  The department wants                                                               
to promote that knowledge.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:18:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MEYER asked  if he  had  analyzed what  would happen  to                                                               
coastal erosion with the sewage  lagoons and dump sites if Ballot                                                               
1 passes.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OVERBECK replied  she was  not familiar  with what  Ballot 1                                                               
would do, but she would get back to him on that.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN  asked if  they are doing  any projections                                                               
in terms of future inundation if sea levels rise.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. OVERBECK  answered that  they are  not making  projections on                                                               
sea level  changes with  surge level modeling  at this  time. The                                                               
data has to be collected first  and the next step would be making                                                               
models and projections.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN  asked  if  that  next  step  is  in  the                                                               
abstract or  if it  is the  actual next step  she is  planning to                                                               
take.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OVERBECK  said  that  would  be a  long-term  plan  for  the                                                               
program, which doesn't have the capacity to do it at this time.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. PAPP  added that they  work with a  lot of other  partners to                                                               
make this information  possible and as their data  goes back only                                                               
so  far, useful  projections  need additional  data collected  in                                                               
collaboration  with  other state  and  federal  agencies and  the                                                               
communities themselves.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN  asked if  they need direction  or funding                                                               
from the legislature and if they have a timeline.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. PAPP replied they don't have a timeline at this point.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENATATIVE LINCOLN thanked  them both for the  work they are                                                               
doing saying it is a major  issue for the state and his district,                                                               
especially.   Some   iconic   Alaskan   communities   are   under                                                               
existential threats from sea level  change and storms, and having                                                               
that information  is a huge first  step in addressing it.  But at                                                               
some  point, soon  they will  need  to apply  some resources  and                                                               
interventions to help these places out.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:24:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL commented that the  only things missing from this                                                               
really good information are the  places where mitigation has been                                                               
tried and  either succeeded or  failed. That kind  of information                                                               
would be helpful.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:25:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR TARR  summarized the requests  for follow up  were: what                                                               
is  going on  in Southeast  Alaska,  how the  Proposition 1  will                                                               
affect sewage  lagoons in coastal communities,  and some examples                                                               
of  successful  or failed  mitigation  efforts.  She thanked  the                                                               
presenters again  and recessed  the joint  meeting of  the Senate                                                               
and  House Resources  Committees  at 3:25  p.m. She  subsequently                                                               
adjourned this meeting prior to the  start of the 3:00 p.m. joint                                                               
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Final Agenda House and Senate Resources Committee Sept 10 2018.pdf HRES 9/10/2018 2:00:00 PM
Agenda - Overviews of Coastal Hazards and National Petroleum Reserve
Coastal Flooding and erosion in Alaska - DGGS.pdf HRES 9/10/2018 2:00:00 PM
DGGS-HS-Resources-Meeting-091018.pdf HRES 9/10/2018 2:00:00 PM
20180910_JRES DNR Martineau Beckham NPRA FINAL.pdf HRES 9/10/2018 2:00:00 PM
Conoco Phillips Scott Jepsen HSResources 9.10.18.pdf HRES 9/10/2018 2:00:00 PM
09 10 2018 Mike Navarre HSJR NPR-A Updated.pdf HRES 9/10/2018 2:00:00 PM