Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 378(CRA) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
HB 378-CHILKAT BALD EAGLE PRESERVE ADV COUNCIL                                                                                
8:07:22 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR OLSON announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 378,  "An Act designating a  representative of                                                               
Chilkat Snowburners, Inc.  as an ex officio member  of the Alaska                                                               
Chilkat  Bald Eagle  Preserve Advisory  Council and  removing the                                                               
mayor  of the  City of  Haines  as an  ex officio  member of  the                                                               
8:07:28 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS moved  to adopt  CSHB 378,  Version 24-LS1486\F,                                                               
Kane,  1/25/06,  as  the  working   document.    There  being  no                                                               
objection, Version F was before the committee.                                                                                  
8:07:46 AM                                                                                                                    
KACI  SCHROEDER-HOTCH,  Staff  to  Representative  Thomas,  House                                                               
Community and  Regional Affairs Standing Committee,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  paraphrased  from  the  following  written  sponsor                                                               
statement [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                      
     The Alaska  Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve  was created by                                                                    
     the  State of  Alaska  in 1982.  The preserve,  located                                                                    
     along the  Haines Highway, was  created to  protect the                                                                    
     world's largest concentration of  Bald Eagles and their                                                                    
     habitat.  Along with  the large  eagle population,  the                                                                    
     preserve is home  to five species of  salmon that spawn                                                                    
     in the surrounding streams and tributaries.                                                                                
     At the heart  of the Eagle Preserve, between  18 and 24                                                                    
     mile of  the Haines Highway,  is the main  viewing area                                                                    
     for  eagle watchers.  This  area  hosts a  particularly                                                                    
     large concentration  of eagles due to  the availability                                                                    
     of salmon and open water in the winter months.                                                                             
     In order  to protect  the sanctity  and utility  of the                                                                    
     Eagle   Preserve,  the   Alaska  Bald   Eagle  Preserve                                                                    
     Advisory Council  was created. The council  consists of                                                                    
     12  seats  representing  local,  state,  environmental,                                                                    
     traditional,  and commercial  interests.  One of  these                                                                    
     seats is  dedicated to the Haines  City Mayor. However,                                                                    
     the City  of Haines and  the Haines Borough  have since                                                                    
     consolidated  leaving  the  seat for  the  Haines  City                                                                    
     Mayor open.  CSHB 378  designates this  open seat  to a                                                                    
     person who  represents a recreational use  who has been                                                                    
     appointed by the Haines Borough Mayor.                                                                                     
8:08:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR THOMAS informed  the committee that he  is presently the                                                               
chair  of the  Chilkoot Indian  Association, and  therefore fills                                                               
one of  the designated  seats on the  Alaska Bald  Eagle Preserve                                                               
Advisory Council  ("Council").  However,  he said that  he hasn't                                                               
attended any of the meetings.                                                                                                   
8:09:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR THOMAS related that there  was enough response in regard                                                               
to  designating that  the  vacant  seat would  be  filled by  the                                                               
Chilkat   Snowburners,  Inc.   as  specified   in  the   original                                                               
legislation  [that it  has been  changed  to refer  to a  "Haines                                                           
nonprofit   recreational  group"].      Furthermore,  Version   F                                                           
specifies that the  borough mayor will select  the nonprofit user                                                               
group.   He  noted that  the borough  itself could  qualify as  a                                                               
recreational  nonprofit user  group.    Co-Chair Thomas  recalled                                                               
that  there  was  a  suggestion  to  have  the  fishing  industry                                                               
represented  on the  Council, to  which he  pointed out  that the                                                               
Council  already has  representation from  the following:   three                                                               
Native  groups that  protect subsistence  user groups;  U.S. Fish                                                               
and  Wildlife;   Alaska  Department  of  Fish   &  Game  (ADF&G);                                                               
Department  of Parks  and Outdoor  Recreation; and  Department of                                                               
Natural Resources  (DNR).  He  reminded the committee  that there                                                               
is  no  logging  or  any development  within  the  preserve,  and                                                               
therefore he  opined that  it would  be best  to fill  the vacant                                                               
position with  a group that is  in [and uses] the  Alaska Chilkat                                                               
Bald Eagle Preserve ("Preserve").                                                                                               
8:12:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  inquired as  to the  other members  of the                                                               
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS  specified  that   the  Council  consists  of  a                                                               
commercial  user  group;  an environmental  group;  three  Native                                                               
groups, a representative  from ADF&G; a member of  the Upper Lynn                                                               
Canal Fish  and Game Advisory  Committee; the Mayor of  Haines; a                                                               
representative  from  the  U.S.  Fish  and  Wildlife  Service;  a                                                               
representative of business and industry;  and a representative of                                                               
the  Division  of Forestry.    This  legislation merely  fills  a                                                               
vacancy created  by the consolidation  of the City of  Haines and                                                               
the Haines Borough.                                                                                                             
8:13:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  surmised then  that without passage  of HB
378,  there  would  be  a  vacancy on  the  Council  due  to  the                                                               
consolidation of  the city and  borough eliminating  the position                                                               
of the mayor of the City of Haines.                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR THOMAS replied  yes, and characterized it as  a loss for                                                               
the  community.   In further  response to  Representative LeDoux,                                                               
Co-Chair Thomas  related his understanding  that some  ex officio                                                               
members are voting members while others are not.                                                                                
8:14:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  turned attention to the  committee packet,                                                               
which contains  concerns from the birding  community regarding HB
CO-CHAIR THOMAS, in  regard to the concern that a  public seat is                                                               
being replaced,  clarified that the  legislation is  addressing a                                                               
seat  that  is  vacant  due   to  the  Haines  city  and  borough                                                               
consolidation.   The  desire, he  explained, is  to designate  an                                                               
individual from the  community.  With regard  to special interest                                                               
groups,  Co-Chair Thomas  opined that  each of  the seats  on the                                                               
Council  is  filled   with  a  special  interest   group.    This                                                               
legislation does nothing to reduce the  size of the Preserve.  He                                                               
highlighted that  the Preserve is the  only one in Alaska  and it                                                               
has less restrictions than a park  in that locals can continue to                                                               
use it in their traditional manners.                                                                                            
8:18:22 AM                                                                                                                    
ROB GOLDBERG,  Haines resident, reminded  the committee  that the                                                               
purpose  of  the legislation  establishing  the  Preserve was  to                                                               
protect the eagles  and the salmon on which they  feed.  However,                                                               
he wasn't  sure that  this legislation  would be  consistent with                                                               
the  aforementioned goals  of the  Preserve.   He suggested  that                                                               
since the vacant seat was formerly  a municipal seat for the City                                                               
of Haines, it should be  designated for a borough assembly member                                                               
in order to maintain the  municipal representation.  Mr. Goldberg                                                               
highlighted  that the  Preserve is  of national  significance and                                                               
national groups are reviewing [this legislation] carefully.                                                                     
8:20:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  inquired as  to  whether  the ex  officio                                                               
members of the Council are voting members.                                                                                      
MR. GOLDBERG replied that he didn't know.                                                                                       
8:21:05 AM                                                                                                                    
JERRY  LEWANSKI,   Director,  Division   of  Parks   and  Outdoor                                                               
Recreation, Department  of Natural  Resources (DNR),  related his                                                               
understanding that [all members of  the Council, including the ex                                                               
officio members]  do vote.   However, he offered to  research the                                                               
matter to be sure.                                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  OLSON, upon  reviewing the  membership of  the Council,                                                               
commented that it appears that  every member seems to represent a                                                               
special interest group.                                                                                                         
8:21:38 AM                                                                                                                    
PETER GOLL,  Haines resident, specified  that all members  of the                                                               
Council  vote.   Mr.  Goll  then  reviewed  the creation  of  the                                                               
Preserve, which  is a  small enclosure  within the  larger Haines                                                               
State  Forest.   The  Haines  State Forest,  he  explained, is  a                                                               
multiple-use area  that's available for recreation,  logging, and                                                               
mining.   The  Preserve is  unique  in that  it's withdrawn  from                                                               
multiple use, for  the specific purpose of  protecting the salmon                                                               
habitat that  both the  eagles and the  locals depend.   However,                                                               
commercial activities,  activities that don't damage  the primary                                                               
purpose of the Preserve, were allowed  after 1987.  He noted that                                                               
the Preserve also protects subsistence and traditional uses.                                                                    
MR. GOLL  recalled that  the sponsor  has made  public statements                                                               
relating his  intent to  reduce the size  of the  Preserve, which                                                               
has  attracted national  attention.   This  legislation seems  to                                                               
further indicate  a real threat,  he opined.  Replacing  the seat                                                               
designated for an elected public  official who represents all the                                                               
people in the  community with a special  interest group appointed                                                               
by the  mayor, who has no  power to do  so, is a clear  effort to                                                               
undermine  public control  of the  Preserve and  replace it  with                                                               
designated  special interest  control preferred  by the  sponsor.                                                               
He  said, "It  is a  clear attack  on the  Preserve.   It is  the                                                               
opening battle  in a national  conflict.   It is going  to damage                                                               
the economics  of Haines by  putting us  into a conflict  when we                                                               
don't need one."  Mr. Goll  echoed earlier testimony that if this                                                               
is truly  housekeeping, then the  vacant seat should  continue to                                                               
be filled by a municipal official.                                                                                              
8:26:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. GOLL,  in response to  Representative Neuman,  confirmed that                                                               
the mayor of  Haines is an elected position.   Mr. Goll said that                                                               
the mayor of Haines is out  of town and hasn't had an opportunity                                                               
to consult with the borough assembly  on this matter.  He charged                                                               
that HB  378 was sponsored knowing  full well that the  mayor was                                                               
out  of town  and  no  deliberations would  take  place with  the                                                               
assembly.     Furthermore,  the   Chilkat  Bald   Eagle  Advisory                                                               
Committee hasn't met on this matter either.                                                                                     
8:27:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS  said that  the  Haines  borough mayor  has  had                                                               
input,  which is  why the  legislation specifies  that the  mayor                                                               
will appoint the seat.                                                                                                          
MR. GOLL interjected that he spoke  with mayor last night who was                                                               
aware of  the language [but  hasn't had the opportunity  to meet]                                                               
formally [with the assembly].                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR THOMAS reiterated that he  spoke with the Haines borough                                                               
mayor regarding appointing the vacant  seat.  The mayor, he said,                                                               
was in agreement with that.                                                                                                     
8:28:23 AM                                                                                                                    
PETE LAPHAM, Member, Chilkat  Snowburners, informed the committee                                                               
that he has  been a recreational user and worker  in the Preserve                                                               
for a good portion  of his life.  He highlighted  that one of the                                                               
traditional uses of the Preserve is recreation.                                                                                 
8:29:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN related his  belief that those who recreate                                                               
tend to  want to take  care of the  area in which  they recreate.                                                               
He asked if  Mr. Lapham believes the Chilkat  Snowburners, were a                                                               
member of  the group appointed to  the Council, would be  able to                                                               
protect the Preserve.                                                                                                           
MR.  LAPHAM  related  that the  Chilkat  Snowburners  police  the                                                               
Preserve  for trash.   Furthermore,  the Chilkat  Snowburners, he                                                               
opined, work well  with other recreational groups.   In fact, the                                                               
Chilkat  Snowburners have  also been  involved in  rescue efforts                                                               
located inside and outside of the Preserve.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  commended the Chilkat Snowburners  for its                                                               
8:32:23 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  SCHOEN,  Senior  Scientist, Audubon  Alaska,  informed  the                                                               
committee that  the National Audubon Society  was deeply involved                                                               
in the  formation of the  Preserve in 1982.   He opined  that the                                                               
Council has  served all  interests well for  more than  20 years.                                                               
Mr.  Schoen related  that the  language  designating a  [vacated]                                                               
elected official's seat  to a special interest  group would upset                                                               
the balance  of the Council, which  is of concern.   Although the                                                               
change incorporated  in Version  F is a  step in  the appropriate                                                               
direction,  he  opined  that  [Audubon   Alaska]  would  be  more                                                               
comfortable  with   having  a  representative  of   broad  public                                                               
interest rather than a special interest representative.                                                                         
8:35:17 AM                                                                                                                    
BETH PELUSO described herself as  an avid birder who has traveled                                                               
to Haines  to experience the  Bald Eagle festival.   She reminded                                                               
the committee that the Preserve  was created because the area has                                                               
the highest concentration of bald  eagles and is an international                                                               
treasure that should  be kept for all to enjoy.   The Preserve is                                                               
a huge resource  for the community.  Ms.  Peluso recommended that                                                               
a  municipal official  fill  the  seat vacated  by  the mayor  of                                                               
8:38:24 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  PELUSO, in  response  to  Representative Neuman,  reiterated                                                               
that the  now vacant  position that  was filled  by the  mayor of                                                               
Haines  was responsible  for representing  the entire  community,                                                               
and therefore changing  it to a specific user  group would narrow                                                               
the representation.                                                                                                             
8:40:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PEGGY  WILSON, Alaska State  Legislature, surmised                                                               
that some  of the testimony today  has related fear in  regard to                                                               
what  might  happen if  there  is  a  lot  of recreation  in  the                                                               
[Preserve].   However, she  recalled growing up  in Iowa  when no                                                               
eagles were around, although now there  are tons of them, even in                                                               
the  face of  all the  development.   Therefore, she  related her                                                               
belief  that eagles  are  more resilient  than  people think  and                                                               
noise isn't going to scare them away.                                                                                           
8:42:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR OLSON closed public testimony.                                                                                         
8:42:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR THOMAS, in response  to Representative Cissna, confirmed                                                               
that  the statutes  specify [in  broad  terms] the  groups to  be                                                               
represented  on the  Council.   This  legislation, he  clarified,                                                               
merely  removes the  seat  filled by  the mayor  of  the City  of                                                               
Haines and replaces if with a  designee specified by the mayor of                                                               
the Borough of Haines.                                                                                                          
8:46:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR THOMAS, in response  to Representative LeDoux, confirmed                                                               
that  the  legislation  creating the  Council  didn't  originally                                                               
include a  member of a  recreational group.  In  further response                                                               
to  Representative LeDoux,  Co-Chair Thomas  said that  he didn't                                                               
know  why that  group wasn't  included in  the membership  of the                                                               
Council.   In response to Representative  Salmon, Co-Chair Thomas                                                               
opined that the community of  Haines needs representation, in the                                                               
form of  a recreational user  group, on  the Council in  order to                                                               
provide balance.                                                                                                                
8:48:01 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT indicated  that  an  11-member group,  which                                                               
would occur  if the vacant  position isn't filled, would  seem to                                                               
be  a  more manageable  size  group  to  come to  conclusions  on                                                               
matters.  He  then asked if the two-year terms  of the members of                                                               
the Council are staggered.                                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR THOMAS  related his  belief that most  of the  terms are                                                               
staggered, although a few seats may come open at the same time.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  related his understanding that  the function                                                               
of  the Council  is to  assist the  department in  developing and                                                               
monitoring a management plan for the Preserve.                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS  replied yes,  adding  that  the Council  is  an                                                               
advisory board that is run very  well.  With regard to the number                                                               
of seats,  Co-Chair Thomas informed  the committee that  with the                                                               
12-member Council  about half the  time the Council is  unable to                                                               
establish a quorum.                                                                                                             
8:50:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked  if any consideration was  given to the                                                               
suggestion of the mayor selecting  an city council member to fill                                                               
the vacant position.                                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR THOMAS said  that the mayor could do so  if that council                                                               
member is a  member of a recreational user group.   He emphasized                                                               
that in and  around the Preserve is a multi-use.   In fact, there                                                               
are  logging roads  that pass  through the  Preserve.   He echoed                                                               
Representative  Wilson's  characterization   that  eagles  aren't                                                               
easily disturbed.                                                                                                               
8:51:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  if any  consideration was  given to                                                               
expanding the  Council such that  the seat  for the mayor  of the                                                               
City of Haines would be  replaced with another municipal official                                                               
and an additional seat for a recreational user group.                                                                           
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS turned  to  Mr. Goll's  suggestion  to have  the                                                               
vacant  seat selection  voted  on by  the  borough assembly,  and                                                               
pointed out  that such can  already occur.  Therefore,  he didn't                                                               
see the problem [with the language  in Version F].  He reiterated                                                               
the difficulty  the Council already  has establishing  quorum and                                                               
suggested that  adding another seat  to the Council would  add to                                                               
the difficulty in establishing a  quorum.  Co-Chair Thomas opined                                                               
that  he tried  to make  the  [change in  the seat]  as broad  as                                                               
possible  while protecting  the  integrity of  the community  and                                                               
providing oversight.                                                                                                            
8:53:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  moved to  report  CSHB  378, Version  24-                                                               
LS1486\F,  Kane,  1/25/06,  out   of  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no  objection,   CSHB  378(CRA)  was  reported   from  the  House                                                               
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                              

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