Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/18/1996 02:20 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HOUSE BILL 91                                                                
       "An Act amending the area within designated marine park                 
       units  of  the  Alaska state  park  system,  and adding                 
       marine park units to the Alaska state park system."                     
  REPRESENTATIVE  CAREN  ROBINSON spoke  in  support of  HB 91                 
  which would designate  13 islands  in the Juneau  area as  a                 
  State Marine Park.   The islands included in the  parcel are                 
  located in Lynn Canal; they are  unique because they can all                 
  be reached within a few minutes  by skiff or by a few  hours                 
  by kayak.  The primary  use of the selected lands  has been,                 
  historically, for recreation purposes.                                       
  support  of  HB  91.    He  stressed  that  passage  of  the                 
  legislation  would   protect  the   islands  for   continued                 
  recreational use.  He noted  that more and more  water-front                 
  areas  have become  off-limits to the  public.   Mr. Merrell                 
  advised that there is a wide range of public support for the                 
  endorsement of the proposal.                                                 
  RON SOMERVILLE, TERRITORIAL SPORTSMAN, JUNEAU, testified  in                 
  support of HB 91.  He  stated that the Territorial Sportsman                 
  has always lobbied  in support of areas within Southeast for                 
  public purposes and maintenance for safety purposes.                         
  Representative  Martin  asked if  the  area should  become a                 
  marine park, would only guided persons be able to access the                 
  islands.    Mr.  Somerville stated  that  the  Department of                 
  Natural  Resources  (DNR)  has  the  authority  to  restrict                 
  accesses to State lands.  To date, the Marine Parks have not                 
  excluded public use to the areas.                                            
  ADVISORY COMMITTEE, JUNEAU, spoke in support  of HB 91.  Ms.                 
  Waterman  noted  the  diverse  support  of  the  legislation                 
  throughout Juneau  and  the  unanimous  endorsement  by  the                 
  citizens committee.  She added that  the City and Borough of                 
  Juneau (CBJ) is currently updating  a comprehensive plan for                 
  use of the Parks and Recreation department.                                  
  SUSAN SCHRADER, JUNEAU,  noted that Bryon Mallot,  member of                 
  the  State  Parks Advisory  Board  in Juneau,  requested the                 
  Committee's support of the proposed legislation.                             
  Ms. Schrader added  that the islands  as proposed in HB  91,                 
  hold exceptional recreational value for  the citizens of CBJ                 
  and for the many visitors that come to Alaska and to Juneau.                 
  With passage of  the legislation,  the islands would  become                 
  another addition  to a  string of  state parks  in Southeast                 
  Alaska.    The  legislation  would   not  restrict  the  use                 
  currently happening on the islands.  Ms. Schrader urged  the                 
  Committee's support.                                                         
  MIKE  MILLER,  JUNEAU,   spoke  to  his  long   interest  in                 
  preserving state parks.   The concept  of HB 91 would  be to                 
  have a  series  of  islands up  and  down the  coast  to  be                 
  available for Alaskans as well as to provide a vital use for                 
  visitors.  He stressed that it  was important that the sites                 
  be  designated  now,  and  reiterated   that  the  bill  has                 
  virtually total support in Juneau.                                           
  Representative  Mulder pointed  out a  letter  of opposition                 
  from  the  Juneau  Chamber  of  Commerce.   Mr.  Miller  was                 
  surprised and thought that  they were in favor of  the bill.                 
  Representative Mulder added,  there was  also a letter  from                 
  Alaska Travel Adventures in opposition to the bill.                          
  Representative   Mulder   asked   if  there   was   anything                 
  prohibiting the use of the islands at this time.  Mr. Miller                 
  stated  that  there  was  not,  although, there  is  nothing                 
  prohibiting   trashing  and   bad   use   of  the   islands.                 
  Designation  of   the  islands  would   provide  for   their                 
  protection.  The  bill would  prohibit inappropriate use  of                 
  the lands.                                                                   
  Representative Mulder  spoke to the existing islands already                 
  included in the  park.  He  asked if consideration had  been                 
  given to development of additional boat access and ramps  to                 
  the  islands; he  asked  if the  Park  Department had  spent                 
  additional money on the  islands.  Mr. Miller did  not think                 
  that additional funds had  been spent.  He pointed  out that                 
  little  or no development has taken  place because the money                 
  has not been available.  He stressed that it was the goal to                 
  keep the sites as natural as possible.                                       
  Representative  Mulder asked  if  Juneau had  completed it's                 
  land use selection.   He suggested if that process  had been                 
  completed, CBJ  could make application  to do a  line trade.                 
  Representative  Mulder  emphasized that  it  was not  in the                 
  "best interest" of Juneau  or the State to  take "potential"                 
  property tax land  "off" the rolls.   He foresaw a  multiple                 
  use of the islands to generate property taxes in the future.                 
  Mr.  Miller  strongly  suggested  that  the islands  not  be                 
  appropriated for development.                                                
  Representative  Grussendorf  stressed  that   the  City  and                 
  Borough of Juneau has placed a  lot of land for sale in  the                 
  area.   He pointed  out that the  CBJ Assembly  has made and                 
  supports the request  for HB  91.  CBJ  recommends that  the                 
  land be used for recreational purposes.                                      
  BOB  JANES,  GASTINEAU  GUIDING COMPANY,  JUNEAU,  spoke  in                 
  support of HB 91.  He pointed out that his company has taken                 
  tourist   to  the   Channel  Island   area  without   permit                 
  regulations or fees because they exist in State land status.                 
  Mr. Janes stressed  that the  future demand for  use of  the                 
  area will  increase, and  by placing  it in  the State  park                 
  jurisdiction would protect  it.  He  added that it would  be                 
  best for his business and the  community in the long run  to                 
  designate the islands to marine park status.                                 
  Mr. Janes agreed that the islands  do have a "high" economic                 
  value and  he believed that they will support more satellite                 
  practices  in the  future by  increasing the  CBJ tax  base.                 
  Tourism is increasing.  He urged  the Committee's support of                 
  the legislation.                                                             
  JIM KING, JUNEAU,  spoke in support of the legislation being                 
  a  person who has used all the islands during his many years                 
  in Juneau.   He  stressed that this  is "one of  the special                 
  things" that Alaskans feel is their privilege living here in                 
  Alaska and having recreation and family  oriented activities                 
  available.  He thought that the access would do more for the                 
  economy of Juneau than having it on the "tax" rolls.                         
  testified in  support of HB 91.   He noted that  the Outdoor                 
  Council has  traditionally supported  designation of  public                 
  lands for specific uses.   He echoed comments of  the others                 
  who had testified.  Mr. Grasser requested that the  language                 
  added on Page 2,  Line 6, by the House  Resources Committee,                 
  be  included and  add  to that  "the Board  of  Game".   Mr.                 
  Grasser urged the Committee's support of the bill.                           
  Representative Mulder  asked if  the Alaska Outdoor  Council                 
  would  support  the  upkeep and  maintenance  of  the marine                 
  parks.   Mr.  Grasser replied  that would  not be  possible.                 
  Representative Mulder asked where the  funds would come from                 
  to provide the upkeep.   Mr. Grasser suggested that  the all                 
  visitors who  come to Alaska  without a hunting,  fishing or                 
  trapping license  be charged  a $10  dollar fee  to use  the                 
  BOROUGH  OF  JUNEAU, JUNEAU,  noted  that CBJ  has  passed a                 
  resolution in support of the Channel Islands Marine Park.                    
  Ms. Smith acknowledged  the economic value of  such pristine                 
  areas.  Keeping the islands protected adds a lot to the land                 
  value of  the surrounding  areas.   She added,  when dealing                 
  with  recreational  use issues,  the ability  to be  able to                 
  respond  when conflicts occur is  different than it would be                 
  with State parks.   From  the recreational use  perspective,                 
  there is value in having the islands managed by State parks.                 
  Representative Robinson  added, in  1977,  the islands  were                 
  nominated  by  the  City and  Borough  of  Juneau for  state                 
  selection from  the Tongass  National Forest for  recreation                 
  purposes.  In  1989, the State selected the  Channel Islands                 
  from the federal government under the Alaska Statehood Act.                  
  Establishing  the lands as  a State park  would preserve the                 
  quality  of  existing and  future  recreational usage  while                 
  allowing an agency to enforce proper usage of the land.  All                 
  existing  lawful  usage,  including  fishing,  trapping  and                 
  hunting  are  preserved  under  statute.   Only  State  park                 
  management can consolidate water, intertidal and upland uses                 
  into a single entity with  adequate enforcement authority to                 
  protect as well as provide for safe use of these resources.                  
  Representative Robinson added that to designate the lands as                 
  a State park requires legislative action.  Both the City and                 
  the State  have identified  the plan  as a  priority in  the                 
  Juneau Coastal  Management Plan  and the  Juneau State  Land                 
  Plan.    A  previous  bill,  introduced during  the  1991-92                 
  Legislative session,  passed the House  only to  die in  the                 
  Senate Rules Committee.                                                      
  She added that it was important to recognize that Juneau has                 
  a long and consistent history of using  volunteers to manage                 
  park  lands.   Park  maintenance  would be  overseen  by the                 
  Division   of   Parks   using   Juneaus'   many    volunteer                 
  organizations  as a  labor  base.   Representative  Robinson                 
  urged the Committee's support in passage of the legislation.                 
  Representative Robinson  referenced Representative  Mulder's                 
  comments regarding the  letter from the Chamber  of Commerce                 
  indicating that the letter had  been unknowingly released by                 
  one employee.  She  stated that the Chamber of  Commerce has                 
  taken a "neutral"  position on the legislation  and stressed                 
  the broad range of support of the City.                                      
  RECREATION, DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL  RESOURCES, noted that the                 
  Department  and the  Administration  does support  the bill.                 
  Mr. Garry offered to answer questions of the Committee.                      
  Representative  Brown  questioned the  anticipated  level of                 
  management and  method of  payment for  that  service.   Mr.                 
  Garry responded that  the management  level would be  small.                 
  It would  consist of  placing signs  at the  boat ramp;  the                 
  Department might  develop a  brochures, and  the placing  of                 
  signs indicating safe  places to build fires  and removal of                 
  trash on the areas most heavily used.                                        
  In response to  Representative Martin, Mr. Garry  noted that                 
  the Department currently,  does monitor  the area maybe  two                 
  times per year  for clean-up projects.   Discussion followed                 
  between Representative  Martin and  Mr. Garry regarding  the                 
  site  management responsibilities of  the islands  and costs                 
  associated with that.                                                        
  (Tape Change HFC 96-128, Side 2).                                            
  Representative  Mulder  grilled  Mr.  Garry  regarding   the                 
  current  State park  islands.   Mr.  Garry  noted that  only                 
  Shelter Island was a  State Marine Park in the  Juneau area.                 
  There  are  others  around Admiralty  Island  and  down Lynn                 
  Canal.  Representative  Mulder asked  if the Department  had                 
  been approached by other tourism groups to provide access to                 
  Shelter Island.   Mr. Garry  stated that the  Department had                 
  not.    In  order  to  provide  that service,  the  existing                 
  management framework requires the Department to go through a                 
  management plan.   There are  no preconceived notions  as to                 
  what would be  appropriate.  Mr.  Garry noted that there  is                 
  not a management  plan for  Shelter Island.   Representative                 
  Mulder  asserted  that  the  Department  was   intentionally                 
  locking  up the islands for the exclusive  use of a very few                 
  and that he philosophically disagreed  with excluding access                 
  and enjoyment of public lands.  Mr. Garry replied that there                 
  are over six hundred permitted guides  in the State parks at                 
  this  time.    He  stressed  that  one  of  the  Departments                 
  legislative mandates is to promote  tourism and their record                 
  strongly indicates that they have followed through with that                 
  Representative Robinson added that  30 thousand citizens  in                 
  Juneau  will be  able to use  these areas if  they remain as                 
  parks.   Operators believe  that going  through State  parks                 
  will assure that the parks will continue to exist.                           
  Co-Chair Hanley stated that people  currently have access to                 
  the  islands and that a problem does not exist at this time.                 
  There is not  an access problem and he noted concern that in                 
  the future, there would not be the necessary flexibility for                 
  future development.   Co-Chair Hanley advised that  he would                 
  not support placing the land into a park status.                             
  Representative Robinson pointed  out that as long  the lands                 
  continue to be  under the  Department of Natural  Resources,                 
  the same  kind of  abilities and  power would  not exist  as                 
  there does under  the State  parks.  Abuse  has occurred  on                 
  these islands.   She pleaded, in  the best interest for  the                 
  citizens of Juneau,  HB 91 be  passed from Committee, in  as                 
  much  as  it  would  be  the  best  use  of the  islands  as                 
  recreational property.                                                       
  Representative Grussendorf stated that the classification of                 
  a marine park  would define the parameters of the  land.  He                 
  emphasized that the  land would be protected  and everyone's                 
  best interest would be served that way.                                      
  Representative Navarre MOVED to report CS HB 91 (RES) out of                 
  Committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal note.  Representative Mulder OBJECTED.                   
  A roll call was taken on the MOTION.                                         
       IN FAVOR:      Therriault, Brown, Grussendorf, Navarre.                 
       OPPOSED:       Kelly, Kohring, Mulder, Parnell, Hanley,                 
  Representative Martin was not present for the vote.                          
  The MOTION FAILED (4-6).                                                     
  HB 91 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                       

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