Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/05/1996 08:13 AM House RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 447 - CAN'T CLOSE LAND TO TRADITIONAL REC. USES                          
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN announced that the committee would hear HB 447,             
 HB 439 and HSCR 1, in that order.  Witnesses from Anchorage, Delta            
 Junction and Fairbanks were on the teleconference network and Jane            
 Anvik was available via offnet.                                               
 Number 079                                                                    
 DAVID STANCLIFF, Legislative Staff Assistant testified on behalf of           
 the sponsor, Representative Beverly Masek, and said there are two             
 reasons for HB 447.  The first reason is an Administrative branch             
 of government is using a legislatively created statute for a                  
 purpose which the legislature did not intend.  The second reason is           
 to involve the people's branch of government in the major decisions           
 concerning public access to state land and waters.                            
 MR. STANCLIFF informed the committee of an authority that now                 
 exists, according to the Administration, which enables the                    
 commissioner or the director to enlarge the state park system and             
 block traditional public access without legislative involvement.              
 MR. STANCLIFF distributed a handout entitled, Denali State Park               
 Master Plan and referred to a departmental map, Denali State Park             
 boundary modifications.  He said the park was created by the                  
 legislative authority, but the boundaries on the map are not those            
 created by the legislature exclusively.  On the Southwest side of             
 the park boundary, there is an expansion of the original boundary             
 which, purposefully, takes in Blair Lake.                                     
 Number 250                                                                    
 MR. STANCLIFF informed the committee that the new section of park             
 was created through an ILMA, an Interagency Land Management                   
 Agreement.  When the Department of Natural Resources was asked to             
 explain how the 360 acre expansion happened, without statutory                
 authority, Representative Masek received a document from Jim                  
 Stratton, Director, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation,                 
 citing statutes that are totally unrelated to expanding parks                 
 restrictions or authority.                                                    
 Number 293                                                                    
 MR. STANCLIFF said the Administration has been asked to produce               
 records showing the number of times and purposes ILMA authority has           
 been used.  He said the sponsor was given an estimate of over 500             
 times; 50 decisions involved park authority and 50 more involved              
 fish and game authority.  The remainder involved the Department of            
 Transportation for material sites which is one of the categories              
 this authority was intended for along with firefighting and                   
 telecommunication sites.                                                      
 MR. STANCLIFF continued, the legislature gave the Administration              
 the authority to transfer interagency land on areas up to 640 acres           
 without legislative involvement.  That authority, as it has been              
 used on Blair Lake, has meant the end of over 50 years of                     
 traditional access.  He said the new regulations for Denali Park              
 were drafted to specifically eliminate aircraft landings in the               
 ILMA zone at Blair Lake.                                                      
 MR. STANCLIFF related that Representative Masek had difficulty                
 explaining to her constituency that this Administration, or any               
 Administration, could eliminate activity which has taken place for            
 over 50 years without legislative oversight.                                  
 Number 431                                                                    
 MR. STANCLIFF said Representative Masek introduced HB 447 to stop             
 this type of activity and prevent it from happening in the future.            
 He said the Senate version of HB 447 has ten co-sponsors.                     
 MR. STANCLIFF continued, the reason Representative Masek took a               
 broader approach in dealing with the administrative access                    
 prohibitions is twofold:  this committee and the full legislature             
 should establish ground rules for matters as important as public              
 access, long term public access for recreation.  HB 447 would                 
 establish those ground rules by not allowing access activities to             
 be eliminated without legislative consent.                                    
 Number 511                                                                    
 MR. STANCLIFF said HB 447 will not affect Administrative authority            
 within parks and it will not affect fish and game lands.  The bill            
 pertains to the land and waters under general land management of              
 Title 38.  All other lands and waters are in Title 41.  He said the           
 sponsor will leave it to the committee's discretion whether the               
 legislature needs to have oversight in those areas as well.                   
 MR. STANCLIFF concluded, this bill is about accountability and                
 striking a better balance on behalf of Alaskans.  To date, no                 
 legislature has placed in statute, language recognizing and                   
 protecting public access to lands and waters for recreation as a              
 broad policy matter.                                                          
 Number 683                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said, by allowing this public access, could there           
 be restrictions on "other uses,"  which might ultimately be deemed            
 the highest and best use, such as a gold mine where there could be            
 the potential of injury to the public.                                        
 MR. STANCLIFF responded that almost all recreational access in the            
 state is along routes traditionally used by miners, the timber                
 industry and others.  It is not Representative Masek's intent to              
 obstruct valid land disposals or land use patterns with regard to             
 development by this legislation.  If there needs to be protective             
 language inserted by the committee, the sponsor will be happy to              
 Number 820                                                                    
 RON SWANSON, Director, Division of Land, Department of Natural                
 Resources said he would provide background information in addition            
 to the sponsor statement.  He said about 500 Interagency Land                 
 Management Agreements (ILMAs) have been issued since statehood.               
 ILMA's have been issued to the Division of Parks, the Department of           
 Transportation and Public Facilities and the Department of Fish and           
 Game.  Most of the ILMA's have gone to DOT/PF for a variety of                
 purposes: material sites, communication sites, airports, and                  
 maintenance facilities.  The Department of Fish and Game sites are            
 research sites and hatcheries.                                                
 MR. SWANSON said the Division of Parks ILMA's are issued in a                 
 variety of ways and under a variety of different land ownerships.             
 Most of these sites are "507 sites" conveyed to the DNR by the                
 Bureau of Land Management under statute 507 which says they can               
 only be used for recreational uses.  These sites are usually                  
 campgrounds like Harding Lake and Chena River; others have been               
 added via the planning process.  The DNR goes through a land use              
 planning process using an area plan.  The areas are identified by             
 recreational use, either through expansion of additional parks,               
 like Denali, or just identified for those particular purposes.                
 They are then transferred to the Division of Parks for management             
 because that is the appropriate entity.                                       
 MR. SWANSON said, when the DNR transfers an ILMA to parks, fish and           
 game, or transportation, we convey it subject to their authority to           
 manage the land.  In this case, it is the Division of Parks, and it           
 is under Title 41, not Title 38.  In the DOT/PF, it is under Title            
 19, and in the Department of Fish and Game, it is under Title 16.             
 When the Division of Parks receives the land, they use their                  
 authority, sometimes they restrict access, but they also have                 
 citation authority.  The state under Title 38 authority has no                
 citation authority for activities that occurred within the area.              
 MR. SWANSON said the intent of the bill focuses on parks and the              
 activities that happen within parks and the restrictions there.  He           
 recommended that the committee look at Title 41 and not Title 38.             
 To his knowledge, the department has never restricted access under            
 Title 38 at any time.  Restrictions that have occurred on existing            
 leases such as the Fort Knox Mine.  The DNR cannot allow people to            
 go meandering around and digging up holes, but if it is under                 
 lease, a private landowner can do that.  The DNR has never                    
 restricted access on state land under Title 38 authority.                     
 Number 976                                                                    
 MR. SWANSON mentioned the DNR Catalog of Alaska State Parks which             
 lists all the parks and sites and the method they are managed under           
 today.  He identified some of the most popular ones, adding that              
 Land and Water Conservation Funds and federal sport fish money have           
 been used on these sites:  Chena River, Harding Lake, Valdez                  
 Glacier, Worthington Glacier, Southcentral McHugh Creek, Clam                 
 Gulch, Kodiak's Buskin River, Inca River and Fort Abercrombie are             
 under an ILMA. In Southeast Alaska, the Chilkoot Trail, the entire            
 Juneau Trail system and Sitka's historical Totem Bight are all                
 examples of parks that have been ILMA'd over to the Division of               
 Parks to manage under Title 41 authority.                                     
 Number 990                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN noted the arrival of Representative Austerman and           
 the presence of Representative Tom Brice.                                     
 Number 1000                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN referred to the Denali State Park Master Plan             
 and discussed the East boundary expansion adjacent to Indian River            
 of approximately 470 acres. He asked what the term, "a more logical           
 boundary means."                                                              
 MR. SWANSON agreed with Representative Ogan that the current                  
 boundary is the railroad tracks.  He said the area along the river            
 is a popular use area and the idea is to adjust the boundary right            
 up to the river.                                                              
 DAN RITZMAN, Alaska Environmental Lobby, expressed concerns with HB
 447.  He said the Alaska Environmental Lobby is comprised of 22               
 member groups from around the state and participates in the many              
 land use planning decisions that HB 447 seeks to circumvent.                  
 Developing a long range management plan should be a long detailed             
 process involving representatives from all of the interested users            
 groups and local and regional residents.  Under current law, in               
 regulations, the state land management agencies take very in-depth            
 planning processes before classifying land use.                               
 MR. RITZMAN continued, a good example of this is the recent                   
 planning process for Denali State Park.  That process lasted for              
 over two years and had twelve public meetings, task force meetings,           
 and, at least, three opportunities for written public comment to be           
 MR. RITZMAN felt that HB 447 would take land classification                   
 responsibilities away from the professionals in the land management           
 agencies, and make it a political decision in the hands of the                
 legislature.  He said the legislature does not have the time or the           
 staff to conduct the long involved, public involvement processes              
 necessary to make land classification decisions.  He feels these              
 decisions should remain in the hands of the professionals in the              
 departments of natural resources and fish and game.                           
 Number 1300                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said the committee would hear from witnesses on             
 the teleconference network.                                                   
 PATRICK PHILLIPS, member, Chugach State Park Citizens Advisory                
 Board; officer and director, Alaska General Industries Inc.,                  
 testified that an estimated 28,000 snowmobile owners reside in                
 Anchorage.  He said HB 447 is a splendid piece of legislation and             
 is greatly needed.  If this bill had been in place 15 years ago,              
 perhaps 70 percent of Chugach State Park would not have become a              
 wilderness sanctuary closed to winter motorized recreation.  He               
 asked the committee to consider adding language to restore                    
 snowmobile owners rights in those areas that have been taken away,            
 and the right to recreational access on public lands.                         
 Number 1419                                                                   
 KEVIN HITE, Board of Directors, Anchorage Snowmobile Club, and Park           
 Watch Coordinator, Chugach State Park, said he is testifying in               
 support of HB 447 on behalf of the 700 members and families of the            
 Anchorage Snowmobile Club.  He said Anchorage is a prime example of           
 an area that has been closed to recreational use with the slow                
 incremental exclusion of access of a particular user group to                 
 public lands based on personal preferences.  HB 447 will help stop            
 the disenfranchisement of the snowmobile user group.                          
 Number 1523                                                                   
 MICK MANNS, Paradise Valley Mining and Golden Wilderness                      
 Recreation, testified on behalf of the recreational users and                 
 miners of the Brooks Range, Coldfoot and Bettles.  He said the law            
 needs to be clarified and HB 447 is a good place to start.  Our               
 concern is in active mining.  We work with the snowmachiners and              
 dog mushers in our area and mark the trails to keep them off of our           
 airstrip and keep them away from areas of open cut.  There should             
 be language added to HB 447 that protects both the traditional                
 users, and the miners, and the people who own private airstrips.              
 Every winter individuals abuse that right; they run over runway               
 markers and tear up mining claim markers in active mining areas.              
 By staying on traditional trails, especially when there are open              
 pit and drift shaft hazards, they can avoid injury to themselves              
 and avoid liability to the state and to the miner.  There should be           
 something in law to penalize abusers.                                         
 Number 1776                                                                   
 RANDY CROSBY, Sno-Action Alaska and (indisc.) Lake Lodge, testified           
 in support of HB 447 saying that he is aware of many instances                
 where land managers of the state have taken it upon themselves to             
 reclassify land, and then restrict or prohibit the most common                
 means of transportation used to reach these lands.  For example,              
 Blair Lake, about 15 miles north of Talkeetna.  Until last year,              
 this was a lake reasonably accessible only by airplane, in the                
 summer.  Through an ILMA, it is now classified as part of Denali              
 State Park.  The first thing park managers did was to propose                 
 prohibiting aircraft from landing there with the regulation change.           
 When questioned on their actions, park managers said they were                
 pursuing management objectives to protect the resources.  History             
 will show that aircraft have been landing there for decades and no            
 harm has come to the resource as yet.  The value of this lake and             
 the surrounding land has decreased for most Alaska citizens as the            
 reasonable access to it is now a signature away from being                    
 prohibited.  He felt that HB 447 will allow citizens more control             
 in the management of their land and take away the power of                    
 bureaucrats deciding what is best for us.                                     
 Number 1905                                                                   
 LINNEA GREAVES, Far North Tours, testified in support of HB 447               
 saying that winter tourists look forward to snowmobiling and snow             
 cap tours.  She expressed concern that some recreational access               
 will be limited.  She asked the committee to look at extending its            
 authority to Title 41.                                                        
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN announced that the committee had received written           
 testimony from Roy C. Bowdre, Delta Junction, in support of HB 447.           
 DANA OLSON, Amber Lake Homeowners Association, testified that HB
 447 supersedes the land planning process and has the potential of             
 constitutional challenges because it affects the equal opportunity            
 to obtain state ownership.  She believes that the public has the              
 right to obtain land, but has a problem with a bill that affects              
 the state's ability to do land planning and to dispose of land                
 simply for recreational or subsistence uses.                                  
 MS. OLSON said her property in Amber Lake includes a seismic trail            
 with signs posted no trespassing.  Keep Out.  Still, there are                
 snowmachine races down the trail destroying the fences, the                   
 shrubbery and the agricultural crop.  She forewarned that the                 
 legislature will have a problem with enforcement.                             
 MS. OLSON felt that HB 447 is being generated by the self-interests           
 of the bill's sponsor and the Talkeetna area.  She said the                   
 proponents of HB 447 are very vocal about being involved in the               
 land planning process, and recommended that these issues be                   
 addressed in the staff plan.                                                  
 Number 2141                                                                   
 DAVID ROGERS, Attorney, Lobbyist, Council of Alaska Producers and             
 Echo Bay Alaska, testified that he is concerned about implications            
 with respect to mining and other development projects.  He said he            
 would follow the progress of the bill.                                        
 Number 2179                                                                   
 MR. STANCLIFF said it is not the sponsor's intention to thwart                
 mining or development or private land ownership.  The bill only               
 involves decisions that are major, public access decisions.  The              
 planning processes can go on "ad infinitum," and this does not take           
 away powers of planning.  But, if HB 447 passes, the legislature              
 would have a say in the matter.  We have in statute protected                 
 access for mining.  What has not happened is to balance the agenda            
 with regard to recreation.                                                    
 MR. STANCLIFF said the DNR's comments were not exactly correct in             
 that this bill is addressed to the commissioner's authority.  In              
 the case of Blair Lake, the commissioner's representative stated              
 that if we wanted to get into parks, we needed to move from Title             
 38 to Title 41.  Representative Masek started with Title 38 because           
 land managers allowed the Division of Parks to extend 640 acres               
 into general land management and shut off access.  There is nothing           
 to prevent this from happening.  This bill would allow some                   
 protection for future development as it coincides with traditional            
 access.  He said the Senate version may be the vehicle that is                
 used, but he asked the committee to consider moving HB 447.                   
 Number 2298                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN clarified that HB 447 is an amendment to Title              
 38.  He asked if the Senate version is the same.                              
 MR. STANCLIFF said the bills are identical, but more and more folks           
 want to extend into the Department of Fish and Game land, who will            
 block access; and they want to extend into Title 41, Division of              
 Parks, because of winter tourism.  The Alaska Visitors Association            
 and the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council have listed "access" as a            
 major part of their agenda.  He said there are 54 million acres of            
 federal wilderness in this state and access has been blocked on it.           
 It is called national parks.                                                  
 MR. STANCLIFF reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is             
 also in the process of blocking motorized access in all kinds of              
 areas.  The BLM has blocked access in recognition of archeological            
 discoveries along the Denali Highway.  What is left for Alaskan               
 citizens really exists only on state lands.                                   
 Number 2351                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN referred to the Jim Stratton memo and asked for           
 clarification on ILMA's.  He asked Mr. Stancliff if he feels the              
 Department of Natural Resources is exceeding its intent.                      
 MR. STANCLIFF said the statutes cited in the memo make no reference           
 to restricting access to state land.  He said there have been 500             
 uses of this discretionary authority and the department has been              
 asked to provide explanation of how they have affected access.                
 Number 2437                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN  asked Mr. Stancliff if he characterizes this             
 action as an abuse of the ILMA process.                                       
 MR. STANCLIFF said Representative Masek feels it is a blatant abuse           
 of the process.                                                               
 Number 2447                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if Representative Masek would consider a            
 "friendly amendment" to include "horseback riding and packing" in             
 the allowable means of traditional means of access?                           
 MR. STANCLIFF responded that would be considered a friendly                   
 amendment and said another friendly amendment would include                   
 "recreational mining."  It is not limited to those....end Side A.             
 TAPE 96-12, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN referenced earlier testimony from witnesses                 
 concerned about mining and safety issues.  He asked if the sponsor            
 would consider an amendment to include the posting of notices.                
 MR. STANCLIFF said that would be considered a friendly amendment.             
 When the state parcels out land disposals or mining claims and they           
 are across a trail that has been used for forty years, there is               
 going to be conflict.  Proper marking and a provision in the                  
 legislation that says it does not authorize unacceptable incursions           
 into private land or development lands would be proper.                       
 Number 057                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN discussed with Mr. Stancliff whether the sponsor            
 would prefer that the bill be amended in the Resources Committee or           
 the House Finance Committee.                                                  
 MR. STANCLIFF indicated that the Senate version will probably be              
 the version that is passed.  He recommended that the committee pass           
 HB 447 out of committee with the attached friendly amendments.                
 Number 106                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved to pass HB 447 out of the Resources                 
 Committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note.           
 REPRESENTATIVE ALAN AUSTERMAN objected, advising the committee not            
 to pass the bill until the committee's amendments are incorporated.           
 He stated that the committee may not like the Senate version, and             
 said he wants to further research Title 41.                                   
 Number 161                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN concurred with Representative Austerman and               
 withdrew his motion.                                                          
 Number 200                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN appointed a subcommittee for HB 447 comprised of            
 Representative Nicholia, Co-Chairman Williams and Representative              
 Ogan, chair.                                                                  
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN brought HB 439 before the House Resources                   

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