Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

04/10/2006 01:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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02:05:38 PM Start
02:06:13 PM HB395
02:21:19 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 395 FIRE SEASON DATES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 395(FIN) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
    SENATE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                  
                         April 10, 2006                                                                                         
                           2:05 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bert Stedman, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Gary Stevens, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Thomas Wagoner                                                                                                          
Senator Albert Kookesh                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 395(FIN)                                                                                                  
"An Act relating to the period of the fire season; and providing                                                                
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
     MOVED CSHB 395(FIN) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 395                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: FIRE SEASON DATES                                                                                                  
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) OLSON                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
01/25/06       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/25/06       (H)       RES, FIN                                                                                               
02/06/06       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
02/06/06       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
02/06/06       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/08/06       (H)       RES RPT 6DP 1NR                                                                                        
02/08/06       (H)       DP: GATTO, ELKINS, LEDOUX, CRAWFORD,                                                                   
                         OLSON, RAMRAS;                                                                                         
02/08/06       (H)       NR: SAMUELS                                                                                            
02/14/06       (H)       FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519                                                                       
02/14/06       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/14/06       (H)       MINUTE(FIN)                                                                                            
03/02/06       (H)       FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519                                                                       
03/02/06       (H)       Moved CSHB 395(FIN) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/02/06       (H)       MINUTE(FIN)                                                                                            
03/06/06       (H)       FIN RPT CS(FIN) NT 5DP 2NR 1AM                                                                         
03/06/06       (H)       DP: HAWKER, FOSTER, KELLY, MEYER,                                                                      
                         CHENAULT;                                                                                              
03/06/06       (H)       NR: JOULE, HOLM;                                                                                       
03/06/06       (H)       AM: WEYHRAUCH                                                                                          
03/22/06       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
03/22/06       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 395(FIN)                                                                                 
03/24/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/24/06       (S)       CRA, RES                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Konrad Jackson, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative Kurt Olson                                                                                                       
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced HB 395                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Lynn Wilcox, Fire Program Manager                                                                                               
Division of Forestry                                                                                                            
Department of Natural Resources                                                                                                 
400 Willoughby Ave.                                                                                                             
Juneau, AK  99801-1724                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 395                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Steve Gibson                                                                                                                    
Small Potatoes Lumber Company                                                                                                   
Homer, AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 395                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  BERT  STEDMAN called  the  Senate  Community and  Regional                                                             
Affairs  Standing  Committee  meeting  to order  at  2:05:38  PM.                                                             
Present were  Senator Gary Stevens,  Senator Thomas  Wagoner, and                                                               
Chair Bert Stedman.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                    HB 395-FIRE SEASON DATES                                                                                
2:06:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
CHAIR BERT STEDMAN announced HB 395 to be up for consideration.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
KONRAD  JACKSON, Staff  to Representative  Kurt Olson,  explained                                                               
that HB  395 starts and ends  the fire season one  month earlier.                                                               
Doing  so  allows  the  Division  of  Forestry  to  get  seasonal                                                               
firefighting personnel and equipment in  place and ready to fight                                                               
the early-season fires that have  become much more prevalent with                                                               
the changing Alaska weather.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JACKSON outlined  some of  the early-season  fires including                                                               
the 2005 Tracy  Avenue Fire that was one of  the earliest complex                                                               
fires in  state history. When  it started, just  one firefighting                                                               
aircraft was  in the  state and  it was  diverted to  three other                                                               
fires on its way  to Homer. He drew attention to  the maps in the                                                               
packets showing  the major  Kenai Peninsula  fires since  1996 as                                                               
well as  the areas in Southcentral  Alaska that have been  hit by                                                               
the spruce bark beetle.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Since man is a main cause  of the pre-green-up fires, setting the                                                               
fire season  start date one  month earlier will help  with public                                                               
awareness  programs and  that might  help prevent  some of  those                                                               
early fires, he said.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:10:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GARY STEVENS acknowledged  the importance of starting the                                                               
fire season  earlier, but he  questioned whether  September fires                                                               
weren't an issue.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. JACKSON replied fires do  extend beyond the current September                                                               
30  end of  fire season  and  sometimes DNR  has had  to ask  for                                                               
supplemental money. That would probably  continue to be the case,                                                               
but the reason for changing the end  date as well was to keep the                                                               
fiscal note at zero.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GARY  STEVENS  said that's  understandable  but  if  the                                                               
reality is  that fire danger  extends into September  that merits                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. JACKSON  replied once the  equipment is in place  it's easier                                                               
to fight fires.  If there were a fire in  September the equipment                                                               
might still be in place.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER said he'd like  to hear from the department about                                                               
the  dew point  and the  amount of  rainfall in  September versus                                                               
April.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:14:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LYNN  WILCOX,   Fire  Program  Manager,  Division   of  Forestry,                                                               
Department  of  Natural Resources  (DNR),  said  it's the  early-                                                               
season fires  that have been  problematic because  fire equipment                                                               
isn't in place  and people haven't been  trained. Furthermore, he                                                               
said,  April is  historically the  driest  month of  the year  in                                                               
Alaska. The  wet season  typically starts in  late July  or early                                                               
August and  continues into September  with just one high  in that                                                               
period. The  last two years  are contrary to  historical averages                                                               
though and  more than 3 million  acres burned in August  2004 and                                                               
2005.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
September  is typically  the end  of lightening-caused  fires and                                                               
the issue then becomes human-caused  fires. However, if there are                                                               
ongoing  fires as  in the  last  two years,  they often  continue                                                               
through  August   and  still  pose   problems  through   part  of                                                               
September.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:16:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVE  GIBSON, Homer  logger, said  he  had two  points to  make.                                                               
First, springs  are warmer  now than  in years  past so  the fire                                                               
danger is  high earlier than  it used  to be. Second,  the spruce                                                               
bark beetle  epidemic has  caused the fire  danger level  to rise                                                               
dramatically all  over Southcentral Alaska regardless  of whether                                                               
or not an  area has been logged. The mixture  of grass and beetle                                                               
kill makes a fast-moving fire that is hard to fight.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEDMAN  asked if  he cuts  and mills  beetle-killed spruce                                                               
before or after a fire.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. GIBSON said  as a one-horse sawmill he  doesn't target burned                                                               
timber, but he has milled it on occasion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:20:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEDMAN noted  there was no further  testimony or questions                                                               
and he was ready for a motion.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GARY  STEVENS  motioned  to  report  CSHB  395(FIN)  and                                                               
attached   fiscal   note(s)   from  committee   with   individual                                                               
recommendations. There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Stedman adjourned the meeting at 2:21:19 PM.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                

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