Legislature(1995 - 1996)

05/05/1995 08:44 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HJR 48 - KENAI PENINSULA SUBSISTENCE PROPOSAL                               
                                                                               
 Number 163                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MIKE NAVARRE, PRIME SPONSOR, stated HJR 48 speaks              
 specifically to the proposed subsistence hunt on the Kenai                    
 Peninsula and asks the Federal Subsistence Board (FSB) not to adopt           
 the proposal because it is a very divisive issue.  He said he has             
 worked with interested groups to try and draft language which will            
 accomplish their concerns.  He pointed out on page 2, beginning on            
 line 20, the Further Resolved asks the FSB not to adopt any future            
 federal regulations which would grant subsistence preferences for             
 fish and game until January 1, 1997, unless the regulations are               
 concurred in by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE noted the reason that caveat was included              
 was in recognition that Alaska is a large and diverse state and               
 there are some areas which may have to be addressed or else some of           
 the existing regulations may have to be modified.  He told                    
 committee members it is the Administration's position to not add              
 any more fuel to the fire and would probably not concur in                    
 regulations that would be divisive or further inflame the issue.              
 The Administration is interested in trying to get a resolution to             
 the issue.                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE stated the Further Resolved on page 2, line            
 24, asks that the FSB not change any of the customary and                     
 traditional use determinations specific to the Kenai Peninsula.  He           
 said there was a request to change that to Alaskan communities in             
 federal regulations until 1997.  He passed out a new proposed work            
 draft committee substitute, version K, which broadens those areas             
 from being specific to the Kenai Peninsula to addressing the                  
 concern with subsistence regulations on a statewide basis.  The               
 language asks for a cooling off period until January 1, 1997, with            
 the hope that Alaska's Congressional Delegation, the legislature,             
 Governor Knowles and his Administration, and all interested                   
 Alaskans can have an opportunity to seek a consensus and compromise           
 in order to come to a resolution on the issue.                                
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE said some of his rural colleagues are not              
 entirely comfortable with some of the language in the bill because            
 they feel they may be better off under federal management.  He                
 stressed that feeling should be a legitimate and critical concern             
 for the legislature.  He pointed out there should be an attempt               
 made to draft something which will allow both his colleagues and              
 other Alaskans to be comfortable with state management.  He felt              
 that is what the goal should be.  He stressed the issue should be             
 decided in Alaska.  Alaskan politicians should win or lose                    
 elections over issues determined in Alaska and decisions made by              
 Alaskans, for Alaskans.                                                       
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE stated the subsistence issue will never go             
 away as it is a very controversial issue.  However, his hope is               
 that the battle can be brought back to Alaska and fought amongst              
 Alaskans rather than trying to leave it as it is now in the federal           
 courts.  There are many reasons why the Native and rural interests            
 are currently desirous of leaving management in federal hands,                
 including the fact that many of the definitions have not yet been             
 decided in court.  As seen in the last 15 years, every time a court           
 issue is decided, the subsistence issue bounces back and forth and            
 every time someone on either side feels they have some kind of                
 advantage, they try to exploit it to the largest degree possible              
 and extrapolate out the conclusion most favorable to them, ignoring           
 the possibility that the pendulum will swing back.                            
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE hoped HJR 48 will serve to unite the                   
 legislature and Alaskans rather than divide them.                             
                                                                               
 Number 252                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES made a MOTION to ADOPT CSHJR 48(RES), version           
 F.                                                                            
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN OBJECTED.                                                 
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN WITHDREW his OBJECTION.                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said the FSB has been creating additional                 
 conflicts with subsistence hunting and fishing and dividing the               
 residents of the state since they assumed management of                       
 subsistence.  He stated it appears the sponsor of HJR 48 is in                
 favor of federal law only if it does not apply to his area.  He               
 wondered why the resolution puts so much emphasis on the Kenai                
 Peninsula.                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE stated the resolution was originally                   
 addressed specifically to the Kenai Peninsula because at the                  
 current time, the Kenai Peninsula is a hot bed, it is divisive, and           
 there is a lot of controversy, unrest, and misunderstanding.  He              
 noted that is also true statewide, which is why the committee                 
 substitute reflects a change in the title and on page 2, beginning            
 on line 20.  The FSB is asked not to adopt future regulations which           
 would grant subsistence preferences until January 1, 1997, in                 
 recognition that while the big part of the focus currently is on              
 the Kenai Peninsula because of the proposed regulations, there is             
 a lot of concern and it is an issue which permeates every single              
 square inch of the state.  Therefore, the resolution was broadened            
 to allow for the inclusion of the entire state.                               
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN felt that was meritorious.  He said no matter               
 which side you may fall on, the concept of cooling down and trying            
 to resolve the issue instead of continuing to inflame it by taking            
 a position on one side or the other is going to be best for the               
 state.                                                                        
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS said as a co-sponsor of the resolution, he            
 felt the proposal faced on the Kenai Peninsula was the vehicle for            
 the resolution as an example of the divisiveness and the                      
 aggravation the subsistence issue is causing.  He stated the                  
 resolution does not simply address the Kenai Peninsula as far as              
 its request.  Rather, the resolution is using the Kenai Peninsula             
 as the vehicle and as the example.                                            
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE added that the FSB is meeting on the Kenai             
 Peninsula and it is hoped the resolution can be used in comments to           
 the board with respect specifically to the Kenai issue as well as             
 in the broader perspective statewide.                                         
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN wondered why the first Resolved addresses moose           
 on the Kenai Peninsula but moose are not mentioned in the second              
 Resolved.                                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE responded the first Resolved is an attempt             
 to draft language specific to the proposal now on the Kenai                   
 Peninsula.  He said the second Resolved broadens it and says any              
 regulations that would grant subsistence preferences.  The second             
 Resolved is designed to try and provide an opportunity to seek a              
 consensus and compromise on the issue statewide.  He stated he is             
 not sure that a consensus and compromise is possible but he is                
 hopeful an attempt will be made.  He hoped the end result would be            
 a resolution that may not make everyone happy but will achieve the            
 goal of bringing management of fish and game resources on all lands           
 in Alaska back to Alaskans.                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN noted the discussion on the resolution was taking           
 much longer than expected.  He felt the resolution would need to be           
 taken up again at a later date.                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE said he would spend some time talking with             
 Representative Ogan while other testimony is being taken, to                  
 determine whether or not his concerns can be addressed.  He stated            
 not a lot of time remains before adjournment and he would like to             
 see the resolution passed if possible.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 350                                                                    
                                                                               
 EDDIE GRASSER, REPRESENTATIVE, ALASKA OUTDOOR COUNCIL (AOC), stated           
 AOC is generally supportive of the resolution.  However, AOC has              
 some concerns.  He stated he attended the FSB hearing in Anchorage            
 a couple of weeks ago and there are other problems, in addition to            
 the Kenai Peninsula, which have crept up because of the board's               
 action.  He noted the Kenai Peninsula is more volatile than other             
 areas at this time.                                                           
                                                                               
 MR. GRASSER stated AOC suggests amending HJR 48 on page 2, line 26,           
 deleting the words "Kenai Peninsula" and inserting "Alaskan".  He             
 said AOC would like to see the resolution as broad as possible.  He           
 added there is an understanding of the concerns regarding the Kenai           
 Peninsula and other areas of the state where regulations were                 
 passed.  He pointed out there are good examples of problems with              
 federal management.  He gave several examples.                                
                                                                               
 MR. GRASSER stated the true problem is the Alaska National Interest           
 Land Conservation Act (ANILCA).  The state can change its                     
 Constitution but it will not eliminate federal management.  If the            
 state had changed its Constitution several years ago, the state               
 would still have federal management by the courts currently and               
 would be doing the exact same thing on the Kenai Peninsula which              
 the FSB just did.  He noted these are problems AOC pointed out 15             
 years ago when ANILCA was being drafted.  He stressed ANILCA needs            
 to be changed.                                                                
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE commented the problem is partially with                
 ANILCA but is also with a lack of understanding statewide of what             
 the terms in ANILCA mean and what subsistence means.  He said he              
 does not oppose taking out the language suggested but he wonders if           
 the caveat should be put in the resolution saying that unless the             
 regulations are concurred in by the ADF&G.  He asked if that would            
 be acceptable.                                                                
                                                                               
 MR. GRASSER responded AOC does not have any problem with that                 
 caveat.  He agreed the definitions in ANILCA are not clear.  He               
 noted he did not say ANILCA should be removed, but rather stated              
 the problems inherited are in ANILCA.  He stated preference is a              
 problem with the state's Constitution and changing the state's                
 Constitution to accommodate that level of preference is not going             
 to remove federal management.                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 423                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE clarified the best way to achieve both the             
 changes in ANILCA and regain control is to try and seek some sort             
 of compromise or consensus which will accomplish both of those.               
                                                                               
 MR. GRASSER agreed.  He noted no side is going to get what they               
 want.  He felt the opportunity for reaching a consensus or                    
 compromise has perhaps passed by because of the way the federal               
 system is working and the alliance the subsistence community is               
 forming with the federal bureaucracy.  He did not think the state             
 could offer any solutions which would draw the subsistence                    
 community to the table to discuss a compromise position on the                
 issue.                                                                        
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN announced the House Resources Committee would               
 stand in recess until 9:00 a.m. Saturday, May 6.                              
                                                                               

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