Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

02/12/2020 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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Audio Topic
01:23:48 PM Start
01:24:24 PM HJR25
01:54:05 PM Presentation(s): Food Coalition Representatives
03:12:46 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HJR 25 ENSURE ACCESS INTO DENALI PARK TELECONFERENCED
Moved HJR 25 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Presentation: Increasing Food Security in Alaska TELECONFERENCED
by the Alaska Farm Bureau & Food Coalition
Representatives
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 12, 2020                                                                                        
                           1:23 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative John Lincoln, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Geran Tarr, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Grier Hopkins, Vice Chair                                                                                        
Representative Sara Hannan                                                                                                      
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Representative Dave Talerico                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 25                                                                                                   
Encouraging  the  President  of  the United  States,  the  United                                                               
States  Congress, and  the Governor  of the  state to  assist the                                                               
National Park Service in its  efforts to ensure long- term access                                                               
into Denali  National Park  and Preserve by  way of  the existing                                                               
roadway.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HJR 25 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION(S):  FOOD COALITION REPRESENTATIVES                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HJR 25                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ENSURE ACCESS INTO DENALI PARK                                                                                     
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) TALERICO                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
02/03/20       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/03/20       (H)       RES                                                                                                    
02/12/20       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DON STRIKER, Superintendent                                                                                                     
Denali National Park and Preserve; Acting Regional Director                                                                     
National Park Service                                                                                                           
U.S. Department of the Interior                                                                                                 
Denali Park, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HJR 25.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SARAH LEONARD, President/CEO                                                                                                    
Alaska Travel Industry Association                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HJR 25.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CLAY WALKER, Mayor                                                                                                              
Denali Borough                                                                                                                  
Healy, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HJR 25.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
JENNA HAMM, Co-Owner                                                                                                            
Camp Denali and North Face Lodge                                                                                                
Denali Park, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing of HJR 25.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
RACHAEL MILLER, Co-Chair                                                                                                        
Alaska Food Policy Council                                                                                                      
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided  comments during  the presentation                                                             
by Food Coalition representatives.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CARA DURR, Director of Public Engagement                                                                                        
Food Bank of Alaska                                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided  comments during  the presentation                                                             
by Food Coalition representatives.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNA CALDWELL, Recycling Coordinator                                                                                         
Anchorage Organics Recycling                                                                                                    
Solid Waste Services                                                                                                            
Municipality of Anchorage                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION   STATEMENT:     Provided   a  PowerPoint   presentation                                                             
entitled, "Anchorage Organics  Recycling" during the presentation                                                               
by Food Coalition representatives.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ANDY MERGENS, Senior Director                                                                                                   
Nutrition Services                                                                                                              
Anchorage School District                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION   STATEMENT:     Provided   a  PowerPoint   presentation                                                             
entitled, "Transforming  the Experience" during  the presentation                                                               
by Food Coalition representatives.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SCOTT MUGRAGE, President                                                                                                        
Alaska Farm Bureau, Inc.                                                                                                        
Delta Junction, Alaska                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided  comments during  the presentation                                                             
by Food Coalition representatives.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
RITA JO SHOULTZ, Owner                                                                                                          
Alaska Perfect Peony                                                                                                            
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION   STATEMENT:     Provided   a  PowerPoint   presentation                                                             
entitled,  "Update  on  Alaska Peony  Industry  and  Division  of                                                               
Agriculture  Peony  Programs"  during the  presentation  by  Food                                                               
Coalition representatives.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
KELLI FOREMAN, Assistant Executive Director                                                                                     
Kodiak Baptist Mission/Heritage Farm and Ranch                                                                                  
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Presented  a video  and provided  comments                                                             
during the presentation by Food Coalition representatives                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:23:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  GERAN   TARR  called   the  House   Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at  1:23 p.m.   Representatives Tuck,                                                               
Hannan,  Hopkins, Rasmussen,  Talerico,  Lincoln,  and Tarr  were                                                               
present  at the  call  to order.    Representatives Rauscher  and                                                               
Spohnholz arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
             HJR 25-ENSURE ACCESS INTO DENALI PARK                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:24:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  TARR announced  the first  order of  business would  be                                                               
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 25, Encouraging the  President of the                                                               
United States,  the United States  Congress, and the  Governor of                                                               
the state to  assist the National Park Service in  its efforts to                                                               
ensure long- term  access into Denali National  Park and Preserve                                                               
by way of the existing roadway.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:24:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO,  speaking as  the  sponsor  of HJR  25,                                                               
informed the committee  on the only road  through Denali National                                                               
Park and  Preserve (Denali Park),  at mile marker 45.4,  known as                                                               
Polychrome  Pass,   the  road  is   moving  and  cracking.     He                                                               
paraphrased  from   the  sponsor   statement  [included   in  the                                                               
committee packet] which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
        Sponsor Statement for House Joint Resolution 25                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Denali is  Alaska's most well-known National  Park. The                                                                    
     park road  is 92  miles long  and parallels  the Alaska                                                                    
     Range,   travelling  through   low  valleys   and  high                                                                    
     mountain  passes.  Along  the   route  there  are  many                                                                    
     opportunities  to view  wildlife  roaming the  unfenced                                                                    
     land, view  peaks of  Denali when  the sky  permits and                                                                    
     view incredible  landscapes all  along the  way. Denali                                                                    
     park  road is  also the  only  road into  the park  and                                                                    
     services the  Kantishna area  on the  back side  of the                                                                    
     park. Without this road there  is no access to the park                                                                    
     or  the  area.  Keeping  the access  road  into  Denali                                                                    
     National  Park for  the enjoyment  of residents  of the                                                                    
     Kantishna  area  and  visitors  alike  is  a  point  of                                                                    
     paramount  significance to  many of  those who  plan to                                                                    
     travel  throughout Alaska.  A section  of road  at mile                                                                    
     marker 45.4 has become  increasingly unstable and needs                                                                    
     immediate attention.  I urge you  to support HJR  25 to                                                                    
     encourage   action  on   this   significant  piece   of                                                                    
     infrastructure.  Please call  my staff  at 907-465-4527                                                                    
     for any questions.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  pointed out  the Park Road  provides the                                                               
only access to  private businesses in Kantishna and  to the large                                                               
park campground at Wonder Lake,  thus the access road is critical                                                               
for residents and  visitors.  He noted Denali Park  is visited by                                                               
approximately 600,000  tourists per year and  the Eielson Visitor                                                               
Center, which  is located  beyond the problem  with the  road, is                                                               
one of the  park's most popular destinations.   Speaking from his                                                               
prior   experience  in   the  tourism   industry,  Representative                                                               
Talerico  stated   Denali  Park  is   a  key  component   in  the                                                               
itineraries of visitors who travel  to many other destinations in                                                               
Alaska and cautioned  about the impact to the  travel industry by                                                               
the closure of the Park Road.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:29:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO noted  the Park Road is  also critical to                                                               
the  lottery which  allows  private vehicle  road  access in  the                                                               
fall; the  lottery is  very popular and  is entered  primarily by                                                               
Alaska residents.   In addition,  active military  personnel have                                                               
an opportunity  to drive the  Park Road at  no cost in  the fall.                                                               
The  intent of  HJR 25  is  to demonstrate  that the  legislature                                                               
recognizes  the  importance  of  the Park  Road  to  the  visitor                                                               
industry, Alaska residents, and  active military and to encourage                                                               
a temporary repair and plans for  long-term repair.  He urged the                                                               
committee to support HJR 25.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  expressed his  support  for  HJR 25  and                                                               
noted  the  Fairbanks  North  Star   Borough  has  indicated  its                                                               
support.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:34:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ expressed  her support  for HJR  25 and                                                               
recalled her personal experience camping in Denali Park.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN expressed  her  support  and recalled  her                                                               
personal experience in Denali Park.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  recalled his  personal experience  in Denali                                                               
Park and expressed his support for HJR 25.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:39:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DON STRIKER,  superintendent, Denali  National Park  and Preserve                                                               
and Acting  Regional Director, National Park  Service (NPS), U.S.                                                               
Department of  the Interior,  expressed his  support for  HJR 25.                                                               
He said  NPS recognizes the  importance of outdoor  recreation to                                                               
Alaska and  Alaskans; in  addition, tourism  is a  major economic                                                               
driver  in the  state.    For American  tourists  on their  first                                                               
cruise, a tour  of Denali Park and Glacier Bay  National Park and                                                               
Preserve  are  preferred  destinations;   in  fact,  Denali  Park                                                               
receives over  600,000 visits  each year.   Visitors to  the park                                                               
spend $600 million  in direct spending, and  the visitor industry                                                               
supports  over  8,150  jobs statewide,  which  together  comprise                                                               
nearly $1  billion in total economic  output for the state.   Mr.                                                               
Striker said NPS seeks to ensure  access to Denali Park to fulfil                                                               
its responsibility as  a good neighbor and to  ensure that first-                                                               
time  visitors  return  to  Alaska.   Finally,  he  said  HJR  25                                                               
underscores  the importance  of state/federal  and public/private                                                               
partnerships to sustaining access to Denali Park.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:42:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR opened public testimony on HJR 25.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:43:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SARAH LEONARD, president/CEO,  Alaska Travel Industry Association                                                               
(ATIA),  informed  the committee  the  680  members of  ATIA  and                                                               
businesses that depend  on safe and efficient  access into Denali                                                               
Park support HJR 25.   Alaska's national parks are experiencing a                                                               
backlog of maintenance needs; in  fact, one-half of Denali Park's                                                               
deferred   maintenance  budget   of   $54  million   is  due   to                                                               
deteriorating conditions  along the  Park Road.   A lack  of safe                                                               
and reliable access  into the park would  create economic impacts                                                               
throughout Alaska's  visitor industry.   Tourism is  important to                                                               
the state's economy and national  parks contribute to the success                                                               
of  Alaska's  tourism; she  referred  to  previous testimony  and                                                               
advised if  the Park Road were  to close for an  extended period,                                                               
hotels,  tour  operators,  restaurants,  and all  facets  of  the                                                               
tourism industry statewide would  suffer severe economic impacts.                                                               
MS.  Leonard  said ATIA  supports  the  efforts  of NPS  and  the                                                               
legislature  to ensure  a timely  opening of  the Park  Road this                                                               
summer, and a long-term solution.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:45:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CLAY WALKER, mayor, Denali Borough,  expressed support for HJR 25                                                               
and  said the  Denali Borough  Assembly will  consider a  similar                                                               
resolution because the importance of  the Denali Park Road to the                                                               
economies  of  the  state,  and the  Denali  Borough,  cannot  be                                                               
overstated.   Furthermore,  road  accessibility  into the  Denali                                                               
Park wilderness is unique to the  park.  He spoke of his personal                                                               
experience  working in  the park  and  said as  mayor, he  sought                                                               
support from  the Alaska congressional delegation.   Mayor Walker                                                               
said  a closure  at  mile  43 would  affect  Toklat, Stony  Hill,                                                               
Eielson Visitor Center, Wonder Lake,  and Kantishna, all of which                                                               
are premier destinations.   He urged for  cooperation and support                                                               
from federal, state, and local governments.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:48:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JENNA HAMM, co-owner, Camp Denali  and North Face Lodge, informed                                                               
the committee  her business is one  of four lodges at  the end of                                                               
the  Park Road  that  rely on  road access.    She expressed  her                                                               
support  for  HJR  25  and  agreed  support  for  the  bill  from                                                               
legislators  is critical  to sustaining  the  tourism economy  at                                                               
both  local  and  state  levels.   She  asked  the  committee  to                                                               
consider adding  two points:   businesses are located at  the end                                                               
of  the road  in Kantishna;  the Alaska  National Interest  Lands                                                               
Conservation Act  (ANILCA), Section 1110(b), grants  businesses a                                                               
right to reasonable access for  economic purposes, which has been                                                               
provided by  the Park Road.   She urged  the committee to  seek a                                                               
partnership  between  the  state  and  NPS  in  order  to  extend                                                               
resources.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked for clarification  on the businesses in                                                               
Kantishna.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HAMM said  she  and  her husband  operate  two lodges,  Camp                                                               
Denali and  North Face Lodge;  Camp Denali has been  in operation                                                               
since 1952.   There are three other  lodges, Kantishna Roadhouse,                                                               
Skyline Lodge, and Denali Backcountry Lodge.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LINCOLN asked for clarification  of access guaranteed by                                                               
ANILCA.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HAMM said  ANILCA, [Section  1110(b)] relates  to rights  of                                                               
reasonable access for economic and other purposes.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:52:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  TARR,  after  ascertaining  no one  further  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:53:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LINCOLN  moved to  report HJR 25  out of  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection, HJR 25  was reported out of  the House                                                               
Resources Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION(s):  FOOD COALITION REPRESENTATIVES                                                                               
        PRESENTATION(s):  FOOD COALITION REPRESENTATIVES                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:54:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR  announced the final  order of business would  be a                                                               
presentation by Food Coalition representatives.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:54:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RACHAEL  MILLER, co-chair,  Alaska  Food  Policy Council  (AFPC),                                                               
said she hoped the issue of  food access remains at the forefront                                                               
of everyone's mind and is  incorporated into public policy.  Food                                                               
is a transdisciplinary cause ranging  from emergency and disaster                                                               
preparedness,  and  economic   development,  to  ensuring  public                                                               
wellbeing.   Ms.  Miller  said  she is  a  business professor  at                                                               
Alaska  Pacific University  (APU)  and manager  of APU's  Kellogg                                                               
Farm Campus in Palmer.  She  observed food is a bipartisan issue;                                                               
this year  the Alaska  Food Coalition  has focused  food security                                                               
week on food  production, waste, and access.   Ms. Miller advised                                                               
the  purpose of  AFPC is  to connect,  inform, and  advocate; for                                                               
example,  AFPC  worked  with the  Municipality  of  Anchorage  to                                                               
provide seed  funding through a mini  grant program, commissioned                                                               
reports  in  2014  and  2018  to  reveal  opportunities  in  food                                                               
infrastructure  investment,  and will  host  its  fifth or  sixth                                                               
Alaska Food Festival  and Conference at the  University of Alaska                                                               
Anchorage (UAA).  She surmised most  believe a food system in the                                                               
supply chain  extends from  production to  end waste;  however, a                                                               
food system  includes culture, language,  and family,  and begins                                                               
with choice.   In Alaska, food  security means enough to  eat and                                                               
share.   She  described food  security work  as hard,  difficult,                                                               
sad, and  "a long play."   Further, AFCP has found  that Alaskans                                                               
import 95-98  percent of their  food, thus Alaska is  highly food                                                               
insecure.   In addition, importing  food costs $2 billion  and if                                                               
some of that  money stayed in the state it  would have a positive                                                               
local  economic impact;  in  fact, direct  to  consumer sales  in                                                               
Alaska are  increasing.   Alaska Food  Policy Council  also found                                                               
there  are  opportunities  in   Alaska  for  infrastructure  that                                                               
supports  food  processing,  production,  and  storage,  and  for                                                               
reducing  barriers  to  food  start-ups.   The  2017  [Census  of                                                               
Agriculture,  U.S. Department  of Agriculture]  showed Alaska  is                                                               
leading the  nation in  new farmers;  however, farming  in Alaska                                                               
differs from that  in the Lower 48 and  agricultural policy needs                                                               
to reflect the difference.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:58:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MILLER related  her personal experience in  the food industry                                                               
and  advised   Alaska  agricultural  policy,  by   default,  must                                                               
exercise  "triple  bottom  line philosophy,"  and  value  social,                                                               
ecological, and  economic or financial  bottom lines.   She urged                                                               
the  committee  to  consider  people,  planet,  and  profit  when                                                               
addressing food policy and to  support the agricultural industry,                                                               
decrease  the  state's  carbon footprint,  and  strengthen  local                                                               
economies.   Some programs to  support farmers are:   land access                                                               
programs;  allowing  farmers  to  provide  workers'  compensation                                                               
policies;  building the  agricultural labor  pipeline; supporting                                                               
indigenous  food programs,  such  as the  program  at the  Alaska                                                               
Native Medical  Center; supporting policy for  herdshare programs                                                               
to  increase value-added  projects;  supporting  the Division  of                                                               
Agriculture  to  expand  and to  eventually  export  agricultural                                                               
products;  supporting  reliable  and  affordable  transportation;                                                               
addressing  senior  benefits  and  other policies.    Ms.  Miller                                                               
concluded  Alaska could  be a  model of  food systems  for others                                                               
around  the  world, with  similar  circumstances,  and urged  for                                                               
investment in land-based agriculture in Alaska.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:03:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CARA DURR,  director of Public  Engagement, Food Bank  of Alaska,                                                               
and board member, AFPC, turned to  the issue of food access.  She                                                               
said  the  Food Bank  of  Alaska  has  instigated a  produce  box                                                               
program  to subsidize  excess produce  from  Meyers Farm,  Anchor                                                               
Point Farms, and  Ridgeway Farms, to reduce the  price of produce                                                               
in the  Bethel area.  The  program is beneficial to  the farms by                                                               
increasing demand for  their products, and to  residents who need                                                               
and  want  produce, but  who  cannot  afford  the high  price  of                                                               
produce.   The program has  provided 35,000 pounds of  produce to                                                               
45  communities  in  the Yukon-Kuskokwim  Delta  area.    Another                                                               
federal   program,  the   Gus  Schumacher   Nutrition  Incentives                                                               
Program, allows Supplemental  Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)                                                               
recipients double  credit for  the purchase  of produce,  and she                                                               
described the  benefits of the  program; however, she  was unsure                                                               
whether  the food  bank would  apply for  the program  because it                                                               
requires  a  100  percent  match  to federal  funds.    Ms.  Durr                                                               
recalled  a similar  program at  farmers' markets  that supported                                                               
local  farms  and low-income  residents  and  that is  no  longer                                                               
funded  by the  state.    She urged  the  committee  to keep  the                                                               
aforementioned programs in mind.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR asked how the  food bank in Anchorage has statewide                                                               
impact.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. DURR  explained Food Bank  of Alaska doesn't  distribute food                                                               
directly  to   individuals  but   has  150   partners  statewide.                                                               
Regional food banks distribute in their regions.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN asked for more information on Meyers Farm.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. DURR  said Meyers  Farm is  a farm in  Bethel that  uses root                                                               
cellars  and   other  innovative  methods  to   farm  and  market                                                               
products.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:11:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNA  CALDWELL,  recycling   coordinator,  Anchorage  Organics                                                               
Recycling,  Solid  Waste  Services,  Municipality  of  Anchorage,                                                               
provided a PowerPoint  presentation entitled, "Anchorage Organics                                                               
Recycling"  and  said  another  part  of  food  security  is  the                                                               
consideration  of waste  products.   She  said most  of the  food                                                               
discarded  goes into  the landfill,  but there  are ways  to keep                                                               
food out of the landfill and  promote food security.  Solid Waste                                                               
Services  (SWS)  at  the Municipality  of  Anchorage  (Anchorage)                                                               
operates the  Anchorage Regional  Landfill; the  landfill accepts                                                               
300,000 tons  of trash each year  and plans to keep  the landfill                                                               
open  until 2063.   After  closure, Anchorage  will be  forced to                                                               
ship trash  out of state,  or to other  regions of the  state, at                                                               
great expense.   To extend the life of  the landfill, commodities                                                               
are recycled and shipped out of  state, with the exception of the                                                               
local recycling of organics (slide  1).  Recycling organics makes                                                               
sense  because  approximately  25 percent  of  residential  solid                                                               
waste is organic  material, such as food scraps  and yard debris.                                                               
She estimated  an effective  curbside organics  recycling program                                                               
would remove  up to 50,000 tons  per year from the  landfill, and                                                               
including commercial  entities would remove an  additional 40,000                                                               
tons;  these programs  are  recommended by  city  planners.   She                                                               
pointed  out  organic  material  decomposes  in  a  landfill  and                                                               
produces  methane,  which  is  a  greenhouse  gas;  the  landfill                                                               
collects and  uses methane to  generate power, but  25-33 percent                                                               
is flared.   However, organics that are composted can  be used by                                                               
the community  and returned  to the  food system.   In  2016, the                                                               
community  of Anchorage  requested municipal  composting programs                                                               
to support local businesses and farmers (slide 2).                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:16:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked what  barriers prevent  Anchorage from                                                               
using all of the methane gas.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. CALDWELL  said SWS  is working to  expand the  power project;                                                               
one  possible alternative  use of  the gas  would be  to power  a                                                               
leachate evaporator that  would reduce the amount  of leachate to                                                               
be disposed of.  In  further response to Representative Tuck, she                                                               
stated  the  available power  generated  by  methane exceeds  the                                                               
amount needed  to power  the generators  at Joint  Base Elmendorf                                                               
Richardson.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK suggested garbage  trucks and transfer trucks                                                               
could be converted to use methane gas.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CALDWELL  explained SWS  has  three  parts to  its  organics                                                               
program:    curbside  organics,  which  is  residential  curbside                                                               
collection;  community  compost,  which is  a  drop-off  program;                                                               
Anchorage  School District  (ASD) organics,  which collects  food                                                               
waste  for  use  in  composting  (slide 3).    Firstly,  slide  4                                                               
illustrated   accepted  and   not  accepted   materials  in   the                                                               
residential program;  she noted  SWS composters do  not currently                                                               
have  the   ability  to  compost  compostable   containers.    In                                                               
addition,  meat and  bread are  not accepted  for animal  control                                                               
reasons,  although  the  pilot  program  will  slowly  transition                                                               
toward  accepting   other  materials.     Ms.   Caldwell  further                                                               
explained curbside  organics is the  focus of the  pilot program;                                                               
curbside  organics  collects  comingled   food  scraps  and  yard                                                               
trimmings  and is  known  as the  pink  cart program  established                                                               
after  a yard  waste  pilot in  2017  (slide 5).    She said  the                                                               
program has 800 participants, which  is the maximum possible with                                                               
existing  infrastructure,   and  has   a  waiting  list   of  500                                                               
households.   Anchorage  has two  solid waste  collection service                                                               
areas that are  served by SWS and Alaska Waste,  which also has a                                                               
small collection  program.   In 2019, 271  tons of  material were                                                               
collected,  and  she  said new  infrastructure  would  allow  the                                                               
program to continue to expand (slide 6).                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:21:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CALDWELL continued  to  slide 7.    Secondly, the  community                                                               
compost  program has  two locations  where residents  who do  not                                                               
have  curbside  services  can  drop-off   organics  and  pick  up                                                               
finished  compost.     In  2019,   143  yards  of   compost  were                                                               
distributed; currently  there is no drop-off  location to recycle                                                               
yard  waste.   Thirdly, SWS  partners  with ASD  to capture  food                                                               
scraps.     In  2020,  eleven  schools   are  participating;  one                                                               
challenge  is that  the schools  must collect  clean organics  to                                                               
produce compost (slide 8).                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  questioned  why  Anchorage  no  longer                                                               
recycles glass for road maintenance.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. CALDWELL said glass is  not used in road construction because                                                               
only  a certain  amount  can be  used in  the  construction of  a                                                               
roadbed,  therefore, it  is not  cost-effective.   Currently  SWS                                                               
seeks projects that can use 100  percent recycled glass - such as                                                               
pipe bedding - which are successful.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:26:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANDY  MERGENS,  senior  director, Nutrition  Services,  Anchorage                                                               
School  District   (ASD),  provided  a   PowerPoint  presentation                                                               
entitled, "Transforming  the Experience."   He said ASD  seeks to                                                               
make a  fundamental change in  meal service across  the district.                                                               
Currently,  ASD  serves meals  at  elementary  schools, and  some                                                               
middle  and high  schools, in  plastic  trays already  containing                                                               
portions of food; ASD intends to  return to serving food on trays                                                               
served by lunch staff and reusing  the trays after cleaning.  Mr.                                                               
Mergens said this  change would allow ASD  to introduce different                                                               
menus and  local products, eliminate  packaging, and  reduce food                                                               
waste.   He  described how  meals differ  between elementary  and                                                               
upper level schools  and stressed the plan is  to transition away                                                               
from disposable, one-time  use plastic and paper  trays (slides 1                                                               
and 2).  He restated the  transformation would allow ASD to bring                                                               
changes to  menus and  reduce waste.   The National  School Lunch                                                               
Program,  Food   and  Nutrition   Service,  U.S.   Department  of                                                               
Agriculture,  requires  that  students   are  offered  five  food                                                               
components and  students are required  to take  three components,                                                               
one of  which is a  fruit or vegetable.   He described  in detail                                                               
how  serving  trays that  are  not  prepackaged will  allow  more                                                               
student  choice  and will  reduce  the  amount  of food  that  is                                                               
prepared, served,  and uneaten.   Further illustrated on  slide 3                                                               
was that 18  tons of paper packaging goes into  the landfill each                                                               
year, and he  noted reusable trays will pay  for their investment                                                               
in four and one-half months.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:32:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MERGENS continued to slide 4  that was a timeline.  The pilot                                                               
program  began at  Service High  School  in March  2019, and  has                                                               
expanded to  nearly seven schools.   The  goal is to  replace and                                                               
change to  reusable tray service  at all middle and  high schools                                                               
by the end of 2021.   The program started at high schools because                                                               
they  are better  equipped and  staffed, and  many of  the middle                                                               
schools will  require extensive  renovation to  enlarge kitchens,                                                               
and  he  elaborated.     He  cautioned  the  May   2025  goal  of                                                               
districtwide implementation may be  aspirational.  He pointed out                                                               
the service style change will  increase the amount of ingredients                                                               
and  other products  sourced from  Alaska growers;  in 2018,  ASD                                                               
replaced powdered  mashed potatoes  with freshly  cooked potatoes                                                               
from the  Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) valley,  at lower cost.   In                                                               
addition  to  about  nineteen tons  of  potatoes,  ASD  purchases                                                               
eighteen tons  of carrots  from the Mat-Su  valley each  year and                                                               
may expand  to broccoli  in season.   Further, ASD  is purchasing                                                               
local  beef and  hopes to  obtain flour  grown from  Alaska wheat                                                               
(slide 5).   Mr. Mergens concluded with  the following challenges                                                               
to changes in food service (slide 6):                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
   • new equipment and infrastructure in schools                                                                                
   • kitchen staff training                                                                                                     
   • the new service is time-consuming                                                                                          
   • food supply does not match school year                                                                                     
   • new equipment for central facility                                                                                         
   • increase in supply of local produce                                                                                        
   • processing local produce                                                                                                   
   • shortage of cold storage                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:40:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS asked whether  breakfast is part of school                                                               
meal service.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MERGENS said yes.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  related her experience teaching  in a high                                                               
school  showed her  that  many students  take  the required  meal                                                               
items offered  and immediately  leave them in  a "share  bin" for                                                               
others.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MERGENS agreed.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR  advised facets of [AS  36.30.332 Classification of                                                               
Alaska  products, the  Alaska  Products  Preference] statute  may                                                               
allow ASD  to purchase more  Alaska Grown products due  to recent                                                               
increases in the preference percentage.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MERGENS  said when school  is in  session, ASD is  the single                                                               
largest food service  in the state and thus can  drive the supply                                                               
and profitability of local products.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  made  remarks  in  support  of  Alaska                                                               
agriculture and increased quality of food for school children.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:47:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SCOTT  MUGRAGE,  president, Alaska  Farm  Bureau,  Inc., said  he                                                               
farms in Delta  Junction with his wife and family  and has a herd                                                               
of  cattle  with  nearly  commercial  production.    Mr.  Mugrage                                                               
informed the  committee the potential  for agriculture  in Alaska                                                               
is  phenomenal  and unique;  he  opined  Alaska will  become  the                                                               
future breadbasket  for the  nation.  He  referred to  an earlier                                                               
discussion  of fire  prevention  and suggested  land cleared  for                                                               
firebreaks should  be used for  agriculture; in fact,  if farmed,                                                               
farmers  would maintain  firebreaks and  save maintenance  costs.                                                               
He  spoke in  support  of the  Agricultural  Revolving Loan  Fund                                                               
(ARLF),   Division   of   Agriculture,  Department   of   Natural                                                               
Resources, which  is vital to Alaska's  agricultural industry and                                                               
provides  the  most flexible  and  available  capital funding  to                                                               
Alaska farmers.   He said the ARLF loan  balance is approximately                                                               
$13  million-$14 million.    Speaking as  president  of the  farm                                                               
bureau,  Mr.  Mugrage  advised there  is  continued  interest  in                                                               
farming operations in Alaska and  he regularly shares information                                                               
about opportunities.   His farm  has 800 cattle; he  markets beef                                                               
from Homer to Fairbanks.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:53:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RITA  JO  SHOULTZ,  owner,  Alaska   Perfect  Peony,  provided  a                                                               
PowerPoint  presentation   entitled,  "Update  on   Alaska  Peony                                                               
Industry  and  Division  of Agriculture  Peony  Programs."    Ms.                                                               
Shoultz  said Alaska  Perfect Peony  is  a family  farm in  Fritz                                                               
Creek  of 25  acres that  utilizes high  tunnels, ponds,  creeks,                                                               
four fields,  and coolers (slides 1-2).   When the farm  began 14                                                               
years ago, there  was little information on how  to grow peonies;                                                               
now  many organizations  support  the peony  industry (slide  3).                                                               
The Alaska Grown  program is extremely important  to peony farms,                                                               
and  of  200 peony  farms,  92  Alaska  Grown members  are  peony                                                               
producers (slide  4).  Certified  American Grown is a  program to                                                               
which over 56 percent of U.S.  cut flower growers belong and that                                                               
holds  an annual  convention in  Washington,  D.C. (slides  5-7).                                                               
Alaska peonies  are famous  now and are  seen on  television, and                                                               
she described events and magazine  articles featuring her peonies                                                               
(slides 8-16).  In fact, Homer  is now officially called the City                                                               
of Peonies (slide 17).                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:57:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SHOULTZ said  July is  American Grown  Flowers Month  (slide                                                               
19).  However,  the Division of Agriculture  (DOA), Department of                                                               
Natural Resources (DNR),  is the most effective  supporter of the                                                               
peony industry  (slides 19  and 20).   The Western  United States                                                               
Agricultural   Trade   Association    (WUSATA)   is   a   federal                                                               
organization  which  has recently  turned  attention  to the  cut                                                               
flower  industry in  Alaska (slides  23 and  24).   Phytosanitary                                                               
inspection permits  are required to  market peonies to  a growing                                                               
international  market,  and  because   only  DOA  can  issue  the                                                               
permits,  she urged  for DOA  funding  (slide 25).   Ms.  Shoultz                                                               
presented several  slides of overseas activities  (slides 26-27).                                                               
The  cut flower  industry is  huge -  600 million  stems will  be                                                               
imported  through Miami  for Valentine's  Day  - (slides  28-29).                                                               
Alaska has no cooling stations  thus flowers are shipped with ice                                                               
packs.    Slide 30  was  a  map  which  illustrated Alaska  is  a                                                               
shipping  gateway  to  the  world,  but  shipping  is  impossible                                                               
without phytosanitary  permits.   Also important to  the industry                                                               
are "state-run"  grant programs that  award grants issued  by the                                                               
Specialty   Crop  Block   Grant  Program,   U.S.  Department   of                                                               
Agriculture, one of  which collects data on her  farm (slides 31-                                                               
33).   Other  grants apply  to Hawai'i,  Washington, and  Alaska.                                                               
She  gave an  example of  extraordinary service  provided by  DOA                                                               
employees.   Bees are kept on  the farm to help  remove mold from                                                               
the flowers (slide 38).   The Federal State Marketing Improvement                                                               
Program  (FSMIP)  is another  program  to  support exporting  and                                                               
overseas  marketing  (slides  39-40).    Large  trade  shows  and                                                               
reality shows provide  exposure - DOA also helps  farmers in this                                                               
regard (slides 41-42).                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:03:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHOULTZ observed  tourism is the next area of  new growth for                                                               
agriculture;  a large  group  from the  farm  bureau in  Kentucky                                                               
visited  the  farm, and  she  expressed  appreciation for  [House                                                               
Bill]  217 [passed  in the  Thirtieth Alaska  State Legislature],                                                               
which helped farmers establish farm  tours (slides 43-44).  Slide                                                               
46 illustrated  results of the  2017 Census of  Agriculture which                                                               
indicated overall in the U.S.,  agriculture was down 3.2 percent,                                                               
and  in Alaska  agriculture was  up 29.9  percent, mostly  in the                                                               
Kenai Peninsula (slides  45-48).  She cautioned  new farmers lack                                                               
marketing experience  - thus  are challenged  by marketing  - and                                                               
provided  an example  of  a new  marketing  campaign (slide  49).                                                               
There followed pictures of Alaska  Perfect Peony Farm (slides 50-                                                               
56).                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:06:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KELLI  FOREMAN,  assistant  executive  director,  Kodiak  Baptist                                                               
Mission/Heritage Farm and Ranch,  informed the committee Heritage                                                               
Farm is the only Grade A certified goat dairy in Alaska.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
A video was shown from 3:07 p.m. to 3:12 p.m.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. FOREMAN spoke of her hope  for the future of dairy farming in                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:12:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Resources Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 3:12 p.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR 25 Version M 2.3.20.PDF HRES 2/12/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJR 25
HJR 25 Sponsor Statement 2.5.20.pdf HRES 2/12/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJR 25
HJR 25 Supporing Letter - Robert Wallace 02.11.20.pdf HRES 2/12/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJR 25
HJR 25 Fiscal Note-LEG-SESS 02.11.2020.pdf HRES 2/12/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJR 25
HRES Division of Agriculture Peony Programs Handout 2.11.20.pdf HRES 2/12/2020 1:00:00 PM
Agriculture
HRES Food Security in Alaska Presentation - Anchorage School District Green Brief 2.11.20.pdf HRES 2/12/2020 1:00:00 PM
Agriculture
HRES Food Security in Alaska Presentation - Organics 2.11.20.pdf HRES 2/12/2020 1:00:00 PM
Agriculture
HRES Web Peony Programs Presentation 2.11.20.pdf HRES 2/12/2020 1:00:00 PM
Agriculture