Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/26/1997 03:42 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
JOINT SENATE/HOUSE RESOURCES COMMITTEE February 26, 1997 3:42 P.M. SENATE MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Rick Halford, Chairman Senator Lyda Green, Vice Chairman Senator Loren Leman Senator Bert Sharp Senator Robin Taylor Senator Georgianna Lincoln SENATE MEMBERS ABSENT Senator John Torgerson HOUSE MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Scott Ogan, Co-Chairman Representative Beverly Masek Representative Ramona Barnes Representative Bill Williams HOUSE MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Bill Hudson, Co-Chairman Representative Joe Green Representative Fred Dyson Representative Irene Nicholia Representative Reggie Joule COMMITTEE CALENDAR Briefing: Citizens' Advisory Commission on Federal Areas Ms. Thyes Shaub, Chairman Mr. Steven Porter, past Chairman Mr. Stan Leaphart, Executive Director SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 13 Relating to RS 2477 rights-of-way. PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SJR 13 - No previous action to consider. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-14, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN HALFORD called the Joint Senate/House Resources Committee meeting to order at 3:42 and announced the briefing from the Citizens' Advisory Commission on Federal Areas. He noted that Stan Leaphart, Executive Director, has for years been the spark plug behind a great deal of defense of a great deal of different interests. THYES SHAUB, Chairman, introduced the members of the Commission in attendance: Mr. Steve Porter, Mr. Stan Leaphart, Mr. Del Ackels, Mr. Charlie Bussell, Mr. Grant Doyle, Mr. Don Finney, Mr. Clarence Furbush, Senator Sharp, and Senator Halford. MS. SHAUB said the Commission was formed in 1981 shortly after the passage of ANILCA which put 104 million acres of land into federal conservation units and established specific requirements and restrictions on land use. The Commission was formed to watch out for the interests of Alaskans and access to land in the implementation of ANILCA. She noted that they had developed a good working relationship with agencies within the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture. One of the things the Commission did was initiate a cooperative effort with agencies to simplify reporting requirements for air carriers operating on federal conservation system units so they can file one report instead of several reports to a number of federal agencies. This is an example of the streamlining activities they do. They have assisted guides, hunters, private land owners, miners, loggers, commercial fishermen, and native organizations on public access and regulatory issues. They have submitted comments on numerous land plans and proposed federal regulations such as the Tongass Land Management Plan, Endangered Species Act, proposed listings, RS2477 regulations, and other regulatory issues regarding management of federal lands. When the Commission was first established there were five full-time staff people in addition to the 16 members. They reviewed and commented on all the major land management documents for federal conservation units and assisted numerous groups and individuals with their problems in dealing with the federal government on management issues. The Commission is now down to one staff person. She noted that Mr. Leaphart is the only person in State government who checks the federal register every day and flags important issues that come up. He has a wide network of organizations and individuals who he gives this information to on a regular basis. MS. SHAUB said their annual report details the activities they have been involved in over the last year. Number 139 MR. STEVE PORTER said he has noticed some trends in relation to the State and federal government. He said the federal government has influence over the State through the administration in negotiating international treaties and agreements. One example is the International Treaty on Polar Bears which was used last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the authority for their regulatory authority over specific oil and gas operations on the North Slope. Therefore, we need to be aware that even international treaties have an impact on Alaskans. An important item is that international agreements are generally negotiated in Washington D.C, like the Alaska Arctic Off-Shore Oil and Gas Guidelines presently being negotiated between the various countries of the Arctic. This is being done with very little or no input from the State of Alaska and we have the only arctic waters in the United States. He thought if they are meeting on U.S. soil, they should meet in Alaska. Another area that affects Alaska is the regulatory arena. He said that Mr. Leaphart functions as a coordinator also, because he gets information and sends it out to people who understand it. A lot of the regulatory changes are being called "housekeeping" changes which suggests that this is nothing important. What is happening, though, is the federal government is actually stepping forward and increasing their regulatory authority. One of the most recent changes that has substantially impacted the people of the State is the RS2477 interim policy that the Secretary of Interior just changed. Another thing the federal government does is clarification of policy which they track also, like the National Park Service Navigability Water Regulations. MR. PORTER said another area they have to watch is "studies" which are seldom truly studies. Very few studies are conducted for research and understanding; most of the time there is a predetermined goal set out in advance of the study and the study does nothing more than come to the intended conclusion. In the past they have examined some of the studies and occasionally have seen the intent of the study and refuted it. He gave an example of study done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the Colville Delta. The concern was helicopter impacts on birds and the thesis was if there was oil and gas development on the Colville Delta, helicopter overflights might have the birds run around so much that they would lose sufficient weight that they couldn't fly south for the winter and they would therefore die. But they killed over 500 birds and weighed their muscles to make this determination and they actually herded thousands of birds over 2 kilometers to capture them. So the study's impact was substantially greater than 20 years of Prudhoe Bay type of activity. Their formulas also randomly doubled a couple of factors. However, once the Commission submitted their response to that, the study disappeared. MR. PORTER said we need to make it a priority to review all federal regulations whether they are couched in housekeeping terms or new regulatory action. Alaskans can comment on the policy shifts and the State can sometimes act on policy. Number 269 MR. STAN LEAPHART said he has noticed over the last few months a change in the posture of the federal government towards navigable waters. In July of last year the National Park Service adopted some clarification or housekeeping regulations that specifically stated that their management authority extends to all waters within national parks including navigable waters. In their assessment, working with the AG's Office this flies in the face of the major piece of enabling legislation for most of the park units which is the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). ANILCA says that State lands are not included; they are not subject to federal jurisdiction on a lot of issues. In the fall of last year the BLM proposed similar regulations that have to do with the management of wild and scenic rivers and wild and scenic study rivers. There are six wild and scenic rivers in Alaska that are under BLM management and interestingly enough about four or five of those are some of the largest mining areas in the whole State. Once again, the BLM has authority under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to approve or disapprove of any resource project that affected a segment. He noted that fisheries enhancement projects on this river would be subject to approval or disapproval by the BLM. MR. LEAPHART said another set of "housekeeping" regulations are the BLM law enforcement regulations which are still under review. These do not affect just Alaska, but there are some particular concerns for Alaska because they tend to ignore some of the special provisions Alaska was granted under the Alaska Lands Act. Number 354 The Endangered Species Act is frequently used as a political tool rather than a biological or management tool. There is a whole other area of international area designations, like Man in the Biosphere Reserve Program (there are 4) under the United Nations and World Heritage Site Designations (there are 2). There are an additional seven areas in Alaska that have been nominated to be included on the World Heritage Site list. He didn't know enough about them to know how they affected management one way or the other. MR. LEAPHART pointed out other concerns are the management plans the federal agencies started writing since ANILCA in the early 1980s. He said we are about to see in the next four or five years a whole new round of planning activity for the National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. Number 443 CHAIRMAN HALFORD commented that the federal bureaucrats at Glacier Bay are attacking the 25 or 30 fishing vessels that traditionally fish in Glacier Bay on behalf of increasing the number of 800 and 900 ft. cruise ships. He thinks it is an environmental issue and doesn't make any sense. REPRESENTATIVE BARNES commented that committee members should learn about bioshperic reserves because that everywhere you have one, it's not just the designation of that park, but the 250 miles around it. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if all the existing biosphere reserves exist in federal parks. MR. LEAPHART replied that they do not. He said he wasn't sure of the difference between the heritage sites and biospheric reserves. CHAIRMAN HALFORD noted that the Commission is traditionally deleted from the budget by the Governor's office and reinserted by the legislature. Number 490 SENATOR LINCOLN said she appreciated the information they have supplied to the committee. She asked if they had requested the Attorney General to file any lawsuits in 1996. MR. PORTER answered that they hadn't recently, but the State filed one against the National Park Service over its cabin regulations and lost. SENATOR LINCOLN said that the Commission is no longer able to sponsor public meetings solely for gathering public input on specific issues and it bothers her that the general public can't have access to their meetings, especially in the rural areas. MR. PORTER replied that one thing they try to do as a commission is influence the regulators by asking them why they didn't have a public meeting and basically intimidate them into allowing the public to speak. MS. SHAUB said that every time they have a meeting it is public and their budget doesn't allow them to travel as much as they used to. SENATOR LINCOLN said she understood that, but it was her concern that only the folks in Anchorage and Fairbanks could testify at most meetings leaving out the rural people. SENATOR LINCOLN referenced a letter dated December 4 and said she would be interested in the response. MR. LEAPHART replied that there was no response, but what typically happens is in the final regulations they list the organizations that have commented on them and summarize the comments. It's not normal to get a direct response to a particular letter. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if they had looked into proposed regulations on trapping on federal wildlife preserves. MR. LEAPHART said this is one of the areas where he got copies and sent it to the world. On this issue his concern was that there was supposed to be a task force, but they "fooled around" for 90 days then issued another letter saying they didn't have time to do it in the time given so just threw it out for public comment. This action does not meet the requirement of the appropriation which was to put together a task force. He said that an argument supported by statute is that all activities on a wildlife refuge are subject to compatibility determinations. ANILCA which established most of the refuges up here, while it doesn't specifically authorize trapping, makes it very clear in the intent language and the general authority language that it is a traditional activity and will be allowed. MR. PORTER said their concern was that there was an appropriation for a study of leg hold traps. So they contacted all the trapper's associations here and in the lower 48 to let them know what was going on. What they expect to see are regulations and a determination saying that this is not proper. MS. SHAUB said they are considering attending meetings in the other Western States to talk about areas of common interest. TAPE 97-14, SIDE B SENATOR TAYLOR asked if FLPMA had become law. MR. LEAPHART replied yes and explained that it is sort of the organic act of BLM. It's a general authority. SENATOR TAYLOR said the part that alarms him is where they proposed for the federal government to contract with local enforcement officials in the performance of their duties. Another part that concerns him is, "...search, without warrant or process, any person, place, or conveyance according to any federal law or rule of law and seize, without warrant or process, any evidentiary item as provided by federal law." It goes on to provide extensive penalties should one resist. He found it very frightening. MR. LEAPHART reiterated that these regulations have not been enacted and they are under public review; the comment period ends a week from tomorrow. Number 534 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if discharging a firearm was creating a disturbance. SENATOR GREEN said yes it was and the wording was on page seven. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he shared Senator Taylor's concerns especially regarding our due process rights. MR. GRANT DOYLE, Commission member, said one of the things that concerns him is a provision in the new statutes allowing the BLM to commandeer local law enforcement to fulfill the regulations. They understand there will be a lot of resistance so they make us use our own police to enforce the laws. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked where the commission would suggest they prioritize financial allocations. He asked them for a proposal that is specific enough to be budget items. SENATOR TAYLOR asked regarding page 9, section 92.65.43 if subsistence use resources are regulated by BLM and other federal land management agencies referenced as 50CFRpart100. He asked if they encompassed enforcement concepts similar to those which Mr. Doyle mentioned or that he referenced in the proposed regulations. MR. LEAPHART answered that those were Department of Interior regulations, their part of the federal subsistence regulations. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if BLM became the police officers for enforcing subsistence regulations on BLM land. MR. LEAPHART replied yes. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the Forest Service was the enforcement on U.S. Forest Service lands. MR. LEAPHART said that is correct. SENATOR TAYLOR said he thought there was significant duality in the manner in which those regulations are currently being enforced. He said they are being stringently enforced on the Stikine River which is in his back yard, but he was also aware that BLM was not enforcing their regulations in a similar fashion up north. He said this because he had watched people from Anchorage and Fairbanks participate in subsistence activities in those communities, particularly caribou hunts, which they would literally be poachers on if they were enforcing the law as it is written. He is very concerned about that, especially because in his district right now the new proposed subsistence regulations say that no one from Ketchikan will be allowed to hunt on Prince of Wales Island for deer. He thought they chose to discriminate in the manner in which they enforce their own regulations. Number 445 SENATOR LEMAN asked regarding page 11 what BLM rules must he follow if he's in an outstanding natural area if the term "outstanding natural area" is not found in existing regulations. MR. LEAPHART answered that was an excellent question. He said it wasn't in the proposed regulations' definition of terms section. CHAIRMAN HALFORD thanked them for their presentation, their past efforts, and their on-going efforts. He said that concluded the subject matter for their joint hearing and asked the Senate members to remain to address a resolution. SJR 13 OPPOSE DEPT. OF INTERIOR RS 2477 POLICY CHAIRMAN HALFORD announced SJR 13 to be up for consideration. SENATOR GREEN moved to adopt SJR 13 with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN HALFORD adjourned the meeting at 4:45 p.m.