Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/27/1993 10:00 AM House FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 172 An Act relating to the wildlife conservation tag and to entry onto state game and wildlife sanctuaries, state game refuges, state range areas, and fish and game critical habitat areas; and providing for an effective date. HB 172 was held in Committee for further discussion. HOUSE BILL 172 "An Act relating to the wildlife conservation tag and to entry onto state game and wildlife sanctuaries, state game refuges, state range areas, and fish and game critical habitat areas; and providing for an effective date." LAURA FLEMING, AID FOR REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS, stated that HB 172 would create a wildlife conservation tag program aimed at encouraging non-consumptive users of Alaska's wildlife to help pay for wildlife programs and facilities they use. Wildlife viewing is a fast-growing form of recreation in the world, and a major factor in attracting visitors to Alaska. Careful management and development of viewing areas is important to protect the wildlife while enhancing visitor opportunities. The bill is a "user pays" approach to generating funds to support this growing area of wildlife use. The primary thrust of HB 172 is a voluntary program. Participants would pay a fairly small price for the tag. The price of the tag is left to the Department but will be kept low since the goal is to sell large numbers of the tags to those who voluntarily purchase them. Ms. Fleming explained the amendments submitted by Representative Williams which will make three small technical changes to CS HB 172 (RES) version. Co-Chair MacLean presented her concerns with the legislation and the limitations created in the McNeil River area which she felt would restrict individual freedom to explore certain parts of that area. GERON BRUCE, SPECIAL ASSISTANT, DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME, noted the legislation would not restrict people from going into areas to pursue exempted activities. He added that McNeil is a small area sanctuary which is exclusively a brown bear viewing area. This area can be used by permit only and is already existing in law. The function of the permit system is to protect the intrinsic quality of the environment for the animals of those areas and for those who come to view the animals. Co-Chair MacLean voiced her concern with the potential expansion of areas added to the conservation tag entry system. Mr. Bruce advised that the Department will be working closely with tourism, the visitor industry and the 5 public. KATE TESAR, ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT TOUR OPERATORS, JUNEAU, ALASKA, noted support of the legislation. She stated that her group has been assured by the Department of Fish and Game that the tourism industry will be included in changes in the current regulations. There will be no arbitrary designation of tagged areas without good reason. She spoke of the profit which could be generated from the pins. IRENE MORRIS, ALASKA ENVIRONMENTAL LOBBY (AEL), JUNEAU, ALASKA, spoke in support of HB 172. She recommended that non consumptive users pay a portion of the management costs for specified areas. Representative Foster interjected his many concerns with the proposed legislation. He felt HB 172 would be detrimental to Western and Arctic Alaska. Mr. Bruce noted that the Department would be willing to substitute language which would help clarify the legislation. The legislation is not directed at establishing additional fees for subsistence users, but rather allowing users to contribute to programs. Representative Hanley recommended limiting the law to the two designated areas. If additional areas should be added, then the Legislature would determine if they would be advantageous. Co-Chair Larson advised that the legislation should be returned to Subcommittee for further considerations. The bill was HELD in Committee.