Legislature(2007 - 2008)BUTROVICH 205

03/31/2008 03:30 PM RESOURCES


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HJR 31 OPPOSE FED LAW RE AERIAL HUNTING TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHJR 31(RES) Out of Committee
+ HB 370 PROTECTION OF FORESTED LAND TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 370(RES) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
-- Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 31, 2008                                                                                         
                           3:38 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Charlie Huggins, Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Bert Stedman, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Lyda Green                                                                                                              
Senator Lesil McGuire                                                                                                           
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
Senator Thomas Wagoner                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 31(RES)                                                                                       
Opposing the enactment of the Protect America's Wildlife Act of                                                                 
2007 that intends to prohibit aerial hunting of wildlife, which                                                                 
is essential for predator control in Alaska.                                                                                    
     MOVED CSHJR 31(RES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 370(RES)                                                                                                  
"An Act relating to forested  land management and protection from                                                               
wildland  fire and  other destructive  agents; changing  the term                                                               
'forest fire' to  'wildland fire' where it appears  in the Alaska                                                               
Statutes; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
     MOVED CSHB 370(RES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HJR 31                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: OPPOSE FED LAW RE AERIAL HUNTING                                                                                   
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KELLER                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
01/30/08       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/30/08       (H)       RES                                                                                                    
02/13/08       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
02/13/08       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/13/08       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/20/08       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
02/20/08       (H)       Moved CSHJR 31(RES) Out of Committee                                                                   
02/20/08       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/25/08       (H)       RES RPT CS(RES) 6DP 1NR 1AM                                                                            
02/25/08       (H)       DP: ROSES, WILSON, FAIRCLOUGH, EDGMON,                                                                 
                         GATTO, JOHNSON                                                                                         
02/25/08       (H)       NR: GUTTENBERG                                                                                         
02/25/08       (H)       AM: KAWASAKI                                                                                           
03/25/08       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
03/25/08       (H)       VERSION: CSHJR 31(RES)                                                                                 
03/26/08       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/26/08       (S)       RES                                                                                                    
03/31/08       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 370                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PROTECTION OF FORESTED LAND                                                                                        
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KELLY                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
02/19/08       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/19/08       (H)       RES                                                                                                    
02/27/08       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
02/27/08       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/27/08       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/29/08       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
02/29/08       (H)       Moved CSHB 370(RES) Out of Committee                                                                   
02/29/08       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
03/03/08       (H)       RES RPT CS(RES) 5DP 1NR 2AM                                                                            
03/03/08       (H)       DP:    WILSON,    GUTTENBERG,    EDGMON,                                                               
                         FAIRCLOUGH, SEATON                                                                                     
03/03/08       (H)       NR: JOHNSON                                                                                            
03/03/08       (H)       AM: KAWASAKI, GATTO                                                                                    
03/17/08       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
03/17/08       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 370(RES)                                                                                 
03/18/08       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/18/08       (S)       RES                                                                                                    
03/31/08       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WES KELLER                                                                                                       
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Prime sponsor of HJR 31.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DEREK MILLER                                                                                                                    
Staff to Representative Mike Kelly                                                                                              
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HB 370 for the sponsor.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHRIS MAISCH, Director                                                                                                          
Division of State Forestry                                                                                                      
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)                                                                                           
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported CSHB 370(RES).                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER YUHAS                                                                                                                  
Special Assistant to Mayor Jim Whitaker                                                                                         
Fairbanks North Star Borough                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 370.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
LYNN WILCOCK, Fire Program Manager                                                                                              
Division of Forestry                                                                                                            
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)                                                                                           
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 370.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CHARLIE  HUGGINS  called  the  Senate  Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to order at 3:38:22  PM. Present at the call to                                                             
order were  Senators McGuire, Stedman, Wielechowski,  Wagoner and                                                               
Huggins. Senators  Green and Stevens  joined the  meeting shortly                                                               
after it started.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
         CSHJR 31(RES)-OPPOSE FED LAW RE AERIAL HUNTING                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:40:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   HUGGINS   announced   CSHJR   31(RES)  to   be   up   for                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WES KELLER,  prime  sponsor of  HJR  31, said  in                                                               
September   2007   Congressman   George  Miller   of   California                                                               
introduced  HR   3663.  The  Defenders   of  Wildlife   said  the                                                               
resolution expressly  prohibits aerial gunning or  land and shoot                                                               
gunning  of  wolves  and  other  predators  for  the  purpose  of                                                               
inflation of the game species  populations. The Wolf Conservative                                                               
Center says  that this resolution  bars states from  using aerial                                                               
hunting  to  artificially  boost  game  species  populations  for                                                               
hunters.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
He pointed out  the resolution has an  exemption, however, saying                                                               
if the wolves  are a problem for livestock in  the Lower 48, then                                                               
airplanes can  be used to go  out and shoot them.  This just goes                                                               
to show how our culture where  moose and caribou are just staples                                                               
of the diet is not understood.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  said it's  the state's  job to  manage the                                                               
game populations  for maximum  beneficial use  of the  people. He                                                               
said Alaska is  a sovereign state with sovereign  borders and the                                                               
legislature  has been  given the  job of  setting the  policy. He                                                               
said  HR 3663  has 111  co-sponsors  in Washington  D.C., but  it                                                               
hasn't had a hearing yet.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:40:49 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Green and Senator Stevens joined the committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:41:32 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MCGUIRE  asked what  groups introduced  this and  if they                                                               
targeted Alaska.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  replied he had  no specific names,  but he                                                               
found,  through an  acquaintance in  California who  works for  a                                                               
public relations firm,  that it hires a huge staff  and they look                                                               
for issues like this to build  a media campaign around. They will                                                               
take any side of an issue and sometimes both.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said he  doesn't appreciate Congress telling                                                               
Alaska what to  do. He asked if he had  any concern that Alaskans                                                               
had voted twice to ban airborne hunting.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER replied  that  airborne  hunting has  been                                                               
banned except  for predator  control and he  didn't view  that as                                                               
defiance of the will of the people.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER  stated that  while a lot  of people  are against                                                               
airborne hunting, a lot of  his constituents say they wouldn't be                                                               
opposed  to  the  state hiring  helicopters  and  doing  predator                                                               
control of wolves or  having a bounty on them. He  said this is a                                                               
good resolution.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:44:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GREEN  asked if this  issue was opposed to  an individual                                                               
flying.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WAGONER  said concerns  have  been  expressed that  they                                                               
aren't sure  how many wolves  actually get shot compared  to what                                                               
is  reported -  although  he  didn't see  any  advantage for  not                                                               
reporting the number of wolves killed.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGGINS  agreed sometimes it's just  semantics because most                                                               
people understand the  dire condition of the  game population. It                                                               
has to  be addressed or  the herd  goes away. He  queried whether                                                               
there were any  wolves in California where  Congressman Miller is                                                               
from. He  has heard they  had some  problems there with  big cats                                                               
mauling  people.  They  reproduce  quickly  and  don't  have  any                                                               
natural enemies and aren't they doing some predator control.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:46:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS moved  to report  CSHJR  31(RES) from  committee                                                               
with individual recommendations. There were  no objections and it                                                               
was so ordered.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:47:04 PM at ease 3:50:14 PM                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
           CSHB 370(RES)-PROTECTION OF FORESTED LAND                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:50:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   HUGGINS   announced   CSHB   370(RES)  to   be   up   for                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DEREK MILLER, staff  to Representative Mike Kelly,  sponsor of HB                                                               
370,  said  this measure  would  align  statute with  the  Alaska                                                               
Interagency  Wildland  Fire  Management  Plan that  has  been  in                                                               
effect  since  approximately  1985.   It  states  that  all  fire                                                               
management  decisions   will  be   based  on   values  warranting                                                               
protection  and those  include cabins,  lodges and  other manmade                                                               
structures.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
He said existing language implies  that fire management decisions                                                               
are based solely  on the value of the natural  resources at risk.                                                               
This  bill  does not  obligate  protection;  it just  allows  for                                                               
management to  include these structures  in its  decision making.                                                               
The other  objective of the  bill is  to change the  term "forest                                                               
fire" to  "wildland fire" throughout  statute. This term  is more                                                               
up-to-date and is used throughout the Division of Forestry.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MILLER said  this bill  has two  zero fiscal  notes and  the                                                               
Department of Law  has assured them that the state  will not take                                                               
on additional liability with its passage.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:52:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS MAISCH,  Director, Division  of State  Forestry, Department                                                               
of Natural  Resources (DNR),  explained this  issue goes  back to                                                               
the  2004-05  fire  season  when  a  record-11-million-plus-acres                                                               
burned in Alaska.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
He explained that  the Interagency Fire Management  Plan that all                                                               
the  suppression agencies  work with  in the  state dictates  the                                                               
four  different levels  of initial  attack  suppression. The  two                                                               
types  of  response are  referred  to  as limited  and  modified.                                                               
Limited  means a  fire  may  or may  not  be attacked.  Generally                                                               
speaking, a  structure gets  the same type  of protection  as the                                                               
surrounding  areas.  If  the  surrounding   area  is  in  limited                                                               
protection, then  the structure  is not protected.  The exception                                                               
is if human  life is at risk.  This is how the  policy has worked                                                               
for many years.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAISCH  said  the  state   has  had  more  and  more  remote                                                               
development and it  is time to update the fire  atlases that show                                                               
where structures  are located  and the  level of  protection they                                                               
get. The  Murkowski administration brought forth  what was called                                                               
the "best effort  doctrine" to see what could be  done to protect                                                               
structures  in remote  areas. The  Department  of Law  determined                                                               
that  structures  could  not  be   protected  under  the  current                                                               
language of "natural resources at risk."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Essentially  this bill  would  allow the  division  to develop  a                                                               
system that would allow the  division to determine on the atlases                                                               
what  protection  structures would  get.  He  explained that  the                                                               
decision would  be based on a  number of things; one  would be if                                                               
the structure  had fire wise  principles around it -  meaning the                                                               
private owner of  the structure had conducted  activities to make                                                               
the  structure more  survivable  should a  wildfire approach.  It                                                               
determines if  there is  a close  water source  and what  kind of                                                               
fuel pipe the  structure is located in. For instance,  if it's in                                                               
the  middle  of  black  spruce with  no  water  anywhere  nearby,                                                               
there's not much firefighters can  do to protect a structure like                                                               
that.  He  said  updating  the  atlases  would  assure  that  all                                                               
structures are treated consistently and equally.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WAGONER asked  if the  Caribou Hills  fire was  on state                                                               
land, private land or a combination.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH  answered a combination  of lands were  involved; most                                                               
of  it was  on state  land and  about a  third of  it was  on the                                                               
wildlife refuge.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:56:34 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WAGONER  asked how many  of the structures were  on state                                                               
land. He  explained that he  has a  structure on leased  land and                                                               
when the  lease runs out,  the state  will either burn  or remove                                                               
the  building.  He   asked  if  the  Caribou   Hills  leases  are                                                               
different.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH replied it depends  on the individual piece of private                                                               
property. Some have trespass structures  on state land, some have                                                               
permitted structures  and some are just  private in-holdings that                                                               
originally came from  state or federal lands. State  policy is to                                                               
not provide protection on trespass structures.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER asked if those  structures could be permitted for                                                               
rebuilding.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH didn't  know, but he said it would  be a good question                                                               
for the  Division of  Mining, Land and  Water that  oversees that                                                               
aspect of permitting on state land.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked why "forest"  is changed to "wildland"                                                               
on page 2, line 16.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAISCH  replied  the  "wildland   fire"  is  more  inclusive                                                               
terminology of  places that  burn; it used  to be  "forest fire."                                                               
For example, this year the  state had a quarter-million acre fire                                                               
on  the  tundra  up  north  that  has  no  trees;  the  west  has                                                               
grasslands and rangelands.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:58:51 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked where the meat of this bill is.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH replied  in the intent section, section 3,  on page 3,                                                               
lines  2-3. It  removes "value  of  the resources"  and "for  the                                                               
natural resources  and watersheds" and inserts  "values at risk".                                                               
"Values" is  a broader term  that allows them to  include manmade                                                               
structures as  part of  the assessment  process, which  they have                                                               
done  under the  Interagency Management  Plan. Finally,  when the                                                               
law  was  originally   put  in  place,  there   weren't  as  many                                                               
structures  in remote  areas of  the state,  so it  wasn't a  big                                                               
issue. Now it is.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said usually  intent language doesn't have a                                                               
whole lot of meaning, but here it does.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH answered yes.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:00:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  said he heard that  forests are potentially                                                               
much  more  explosive  now,  because they  had  been  managed  by                                                               
putting out fires for decades, which encouraged their growth.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH  answered he  was correct,  especially in  the western                                                               
U.S. He said  the Yellowstone fires are a prime  example of where                                                               
fire  was  suppressed  for  decades   and  when  a  fire  finally                                                               
happened,  the fuel  loads  were so  heavy, that  it  had a  more                                                               
catastrophic intensity than it ever  would have if a natural fire                                                               
had been  allowed to burn  through that area more  frequently. In                                                               
Alaska the boreal  forest is such a fire driven  ecosystem; it is                                                               
designed to  burn and it  needs to burn in  order for it  to stay                                                               
healthy. He  said that some  people think that climate  change is                                                               
causing more intense fire seasons in addition to just fuels.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if this  language would help Southeast                                                               
Anchorage concerns  about protection  from forest fires.  He also                                                               
asked  if the  state was  doing what  it could  to protect  those                                                               
people from forest fires.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH answered  this language would not  affect the Hillside                                                               
area.  That area  has already  been identified  as a  critical or                                                               
full  fire protection  area.  However, he  said  that the  larger                                                               
urban  areas  have  community   wildfire  protection  plans  that                                                               
identify areas  of high  risk and  mitigation measures  to either                                                               
reduce the fuels or improve  the chances for structural and human                                                               
survival.  The language  in  HB 370  would  affect structures  in                                                               
limited or modified protection areas.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGGINS asked for an update on the beetle kill issue.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH answered the spruce  bark beetles are declining on the                                                               
Kenai  and have  been moving  into other  parts of  the Anchorage                                                               
bowl. They are  in decline overall and salvage  activities on the                                                               
Kenai have declined as well.  A wood pellet manufacturing company                                                               
had recently  purchased about  20 million  feet or  basically the                                                               
remaining  salvage  sales. The  wood,  as  long  as it  is  still                                                               
standing for a  three-year period after a burn or  beetle kill is                                                               
low quality and can be used only for bio-energy, the last use.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:06:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGGINS asked him to describe a "controlled burn."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAISCH   responded  that  controlled  burns   are  sometimes                                                               
referred to as "prescribed fire,"  and it is infrequently used in                                                               
the Interior for grouse habitat  improvement and for regenerating                                                               
aspen stands in  the spring before "green up."  They haven't done                                                               
a  lot of  prescribed  fires for  fuels  treatment, but  Alphabet                                                               
Hills in the  Copper River area is one area  that has. The Forest                                                               
Service did one in the Kenai area  a couple of years ago as well.                                                               
The trick  is if it's done  anywhere close to an  urban area, you                                                               
better really have your act together.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:07:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGGINS asked  how long the tree residue  maintains its BTU                                                               
value.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH answered for a long  time; once the tree starts to get                                                               
soft is the point at which it starts to lose BTUs.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if there is  any plan to deal with the                                                               
spruce  bark beetle  kill  on the  Kenai. It  seems  like it's  a                                                               
massive fire waiting to happen.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH  replied a dozen  Kenai communities have come  up with                                                               
community  wildfire   protection  plans.  The  idea   behind  the                                                               
planning  efforts  is  public  safety  -  identifying  evacuation                                                               
routes  and mapping  of fuel  types and  loads and  where at-risk                                                               
things  are like  schools or  residential  developments. That  is                                                               
where their limited funding is  spent. They might remove the fuel                                                               
load close  to schools and  urban areas,  but that makes  a small                                                               
dent in risk factors on the Kenai.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:10:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked what "destructive agent" meant.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH  replied that "destructive  agent" actually  refers to                                                               
the Forest  Practices section  of this statute.  That is  the law                                                               
that  governs activities  on private,  municipal and  state lands                                                               
for  forest practices,  which are  generally commercial  forestry                                                               
activities. Destructive agents are  insects like bark beetles and                                                               
pathogens like the emerald ash bore.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked what he  would do if we  have another                                                               
spruce bark beetle invasion.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAISCH answered  the fact  is that  most of  the trees  that                                                               
would  serve  as   a  host  have  already  been   killed.  He  is                                                               
encouraging  development  of a  bio-energy  industry  to use  the                                                               
residue.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said he has  the right to suppress and asked                                                               
how he approaches that.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH replied  that would depend on the insect,  but if it's                                                               
a bark beetle they would apply  a pesticide on the bowls of trees                                                               
so when the beetles emerge they come in contact with it and die.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if he crop dusts.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH  replied that the  state has  never done that,  but at                                                               
least  one private  land  owner has  used  aerial application  of                                                               
herbicides  for weed  control.  He said  another  example is  the                                                               
spruce bug  worm, which is in  the Interior right now.  It's also                                                               
in the  state of Maine  and other places  in the Lake  states and                                                               
they have aerial  sprayed for it as a  mitigation measure; Alaska                                                               
doesn't have the resources or the need to do that.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:14:30 PM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER  YUHAS,   Special  Assistant  to  Mayor   Jim  Whitaker,                                                               
Fairbanks  North Star  Borough, supported  HB 370.  She explained                                                               
after  the 2004  Interior fire  season  the mayor  placed a  high                                                               
priority  on  fire prevention.  This  legislation  places in  the                                                               
intent  language the  expectation  that already  exists in  their                                                               
communities for the Division of Forestry to assist with this.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:16:42 PM                                                                                                                    
LYNN  WILCOCK,  Fire  Program   Manager,  Division  of  Forestry,                                                               
Department of Natural Resources (DNR),  supported HB 370. He said                                                               
Mr.  Maisch did  a great  job of  explaining why  they want  this                                                               
legislation. He offered to answer questions.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER  asked what  they have  learned about  the spruce                                                               
bark beetle and put in place to respond to it.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAISCH answered  they have  learned that  earlier action  is                                                               
appropriate in  circumstances where you  have the ability  to act                                                               
through  salvage  after initial  discovery  of  an outbreak.  The                                                               
division  has the  authority to  declare a  zone of  infestation,                                                               
which gives them  other tools to use. He didn't  know if it would                                                               
have made  a difference  on the Kenai,  because those  trees were                                                               
old and in large tracts. One  of the things that probably allowed                                                               
it to  happen was the  successful effort  at keeping fire  out of                                                               
that  ecosystem   over  the  previous   decades.  It  put   on  a                                                               
smorgasbord  for these  insects and  once they  got going,  there                                                               
wasn't  a lot  they could  do  to stop  them. The  same thing  is                                                               
happening  right now  in Canada  and Colorado  where hundreds  of                                                               
thousands of acres of lodge pole  pines are being attacked by the                                                               
mountain  pine beetle.  "It makes  the  Kenai look  like a  small                                                               
disaster in comparison."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:19:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGGINS asked if he has land mobile radio (ALMR).                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAISCH answered  yes; his  budget  has some  funds that  are                                                               
dedicated  to  ALMR,  which  has   to  do  with  the  suppression                                                               
organization  and  fire engines.  It  is  part of  the  statewide                                                               
effort to convert over to that  system as mandated by some of the                                                               
changes in interoperability between  federal and state agencies -                                                               
so they can communicate with each other in emergency situations.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HUGGINS asked  when he  is communicating  with the  Alaska                                                               
National Guard, does he use VHF or UHF.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH replied he thought it was UHF.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. WILCOCK added  that the department is still  trying to figure                                                               
out how  to integrate  ALMR with  the traditional  Legacy System.                                                               
The problem with ALMR from his  perspective is that it is limited                                                               
to alongside the  road net and wildland fires  occur much broader                                                               
than  that. An  interface would  help them  communicate with  the                                                               
National  Guard. They  use ALMR  with fire  departments and  with                                                               
some other cooperating agencies.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:21:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS remarked  that  his grandchildren  know them  as                                                               
forest fires.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAISCH  reiterated  that  the   term  "wildland  fire"  just                                                               
broadens the concept to include  more types of places where fires                                                               
happen and it is okay with Smokey the Bear.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGGINS  asked what  the term  is when  they let  the fires                                                               
burn themselves out and if he exercised that option here.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAISCH answered  those fires  occur in  limited or  modified                                                               
areas and they just monitor them. It's a "let burn policy."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER  asked the difference  between a  controlled fire                                                               
and a let burn fire.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MAISCH answered  that a  lot  of planning  happens before  a                                                               
controlled fire. It often takes a  year to write a burn plan that                                                               
actually dictates how  it will be ignited. A let  burn happens as                                                               
a matter of course.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WAGONER  asked  if  a  let  burn  fire  ever  becomes  a                                                               
controlled burn.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH answered no.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGGINS asked how long he has been doing this.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH replied  nine years and he takes  blood pressure pills                                                               
aside from having grey hair.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:25:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  if  adding  protection  from  other                                                               
destructive agents was a big change or just a clarification.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH  answered that other  destructive agents have  been in                                                               
this section  all along. The House  Resources Committee requested                                                               
a definition of "destructive agent" and that is in section 5.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if adding "other  destructive agents"                                                               
to AS 129.40/010 gave him any sort of new powers.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAISCH answered no.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEVENS moved  to report  CSHB  370(RES) from  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and attached  fiscal  note(s).                                                               
There were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGGINS thanked  them for their comments  and adjourned the                                                               
meeting at 4:27:47 PM.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

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