Legislature(1997 - 1998)

01/29/1998 01:25 PM House RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SSHJR 49 - NAT'L FOREST ROAD-BUILDING MORATORIUM                               
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced the next order of business was Sponsor            
Substitute for House Joint Resolution No. 49, Relating to                      
opposition to a moratorium on the building of roads in the roadless            
areas of national forests.                                                     
Number 0400                                                                    
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON explained there was a committee substitute and              
asked for a motion to adopt it.                                                
Number 0407                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to adopt proposed committee                 
substitute for SSHJR 49, version 0-LS1402\B, Luckhaupt, 1/28/98,               
for discussion.  There being no objection, it was before the                   
Number 0415                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS, sponsor of SSHJR 49, read the                    
following statement into the record:                                           
"The Forest Service recently announced a sweeping two-year                     
moratorium on development of 'roadless' areas of national forests.             
Although the announced 'land freeze' appears to have exempted the              
Tongass National Forest from the policy, that is not necessarily               
the case.                                                                      
"The public has 30 days to comment on the roadless policy, after               
which the Tongass could be included in the moratorium.  Also, the              
Chief of the Forest Service, Mike Dombeck, has said that the final             
long term policy will apply to all forests.                                    
"The resolution speaks to the inappropriate manner in which the                
White House is dictating management of our national forests.  The              
Forest Service has turned the public process upside down by                    
announcing their policy first, then searching for scientific                   
evidence to support their position and reaching out for public                 
"The resolution also speaks to the Tongass Land Management Plan.               
We spent over 10 years and $13 million dollars revising how we                 
manage the Tongass.  It would be wrong to come back later with                 
unilateral amendments which alter the balance struck in the plan.              
"I urge your swift passage of the resolution, as the 30 day public             
comment clock is ticking."                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS stated there are a lot of things in the                
plan that have not been looked at, in particular, a socioeconomic              
study for the residents in Southeast Alaska.                                   
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON called on the first witness to testify.                     
Number 0521                                                                    
BUCK LINDEKUGEL, Conservation Director, Southeast Alaska                       
Conservation Council (SEACC), stated SEACC opposes the resolution.             
He explained SEACC was founded in 1970 as a coalition of 15                    
volunteer citizen groups in 12 different Southeast communities.                
The council is dedicated to preserving the integrity of Southeast              
Alaska's unsurpassed natural environment while providing for                   
sustainable use of its remarkable resources.  The council does not             
believe that the 1997 Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) is a                 
reason to exempt it from the roadless policy.  The forest service              
has failed to meaningfully consider a range of alternatives that               
address the needs of local communities in Southeast to protect the             
areas in terms of subsistence, recreation and commercial use of                
fish and wildlife.  He cited the following areas:  Cleveland                   
Peninsula, Port Houghton/Cape Fanshaw, East Kuiu Island, Poison                
Cove/Ushk Bay, Upper Tenakee Inlet, and Castle River.  The roadless            
area moratorium would not prejudge the ongoing TLMP appeal because             
there is a substantial amount of suitable and available timber                 
scheduled under the plan within a mile of the existing road system.            
It would not require expensive or environmentally damaging roads.              
The council believes the forest service should adjust its timber               
planning activities to take advantage of providing the timber needs            
of the transforming timber industry in Southeast Alaska.                       
MR. LINDEKUGEL cited in 1996 the industry cut only 100 million                 
board feet (mmbf).  In 1997 the industry cut about 109 mmbf.  At               
the same time, the forest service authorized for export 113 mmbf of            
cedar, spruce and hemlock logs from the Tongass National Forest.               
There is plenty of timber in the pipeline that could be used by the            
industry as the forest service goes through its transformation.                
MR. LINDEKUGEL stated, in conclusion, a strong moratorium is                   
consistent with SEACC's vision for the development of a new Tongass            
National Forest timber industry.  It would put Alaskans to work                
making products from Alaskan wood instead of exporting timber and              
jobs to the Pacific Northwest or Asia.  The industry would also be             
compatible with the long-term use and supply of fish and wildlife              
resources for subsistence, recreation and commerce in Southeast                
Number 0765                                                                    
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked Mr. Lindekugel, according to his                      
understanding, whether the resolution would apply directly to the              
Chugach National Forest.                                                       
MR. LINDEKUGEL replied, "Correct."                                             
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked Mr. Lindekugel, according to his                      
understanding, whether the Tongass National Forest would be exempt.            
MR. LINDEKUGEL replied, according to his understanding, the Tongass            
National Forest would be exempt from the moratorium by rule.  The              
forest service is taking comments on that portion of the rule for              
the next 30 days.                                                              
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated, therefore, it is not conclusive whether             
the moratorium would or would not apply to the Tongass.                        
MR. LINDEKUGEL stated an announcement excluding the nation's                   
largest national forest is a pretty strong indication of where the             
forest service will end up.  It is not final at this point,                    
Number 0829                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS stated, in regards to the testimony of 100             
and 109 mmbf, he lives in Ketchikan and Saxman and works as a                  
longshoreman.  He is aware of the amount of work going on in the               
timber industry today.  The sawmill in Ketchikan last year ran for             
only four months.  There were jobs for only four months.  And there            
were fewer jobs in Metlakatla.  Therefore, the amount of 100 mmbf              
is totally bogus.  It is agreeable that the TLMP is not complete               
because a socioeconomic study has not been done.  And, as a result,            
the Southeast is feeling it today where 83 percent of timber                   
receipts have been cut.                                                        
Number 0921                                                                    
MR. LINDEKUGEL replied, according to SEACC, there is sufficient                
timber under contract right now for operators.  There is over 500              
mmbf that will be going to the mills during the next several years.            
Therefore, the impact of the moratorium would be negligible on the             
industry.  In addition, the industry is going through a tremendous             
transformation, and SEACC is trying to work with operators who are             
interested in avoiding controversial areas.                                    
Number 0971                                                                    
CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated a company would not build a new road if              
it did not have to.  "We don't want a moratorium on building new               
roads when it is clearly, economically, in the best interest of                
getting to good, harvestable timber."  A blanket moratorium would              
stifle even legitimate economic opportunities.                                 
Number 1015                                                                    
MR. LINDEKUGEL replied road credits are subsidized by federal tax              
payers.   Therefore, there will always be concern nationwide about             
how much money is used to subsidize development.                               
Number 1049                                                                    
RACHAEL MORELAND, Representative, Alaska Forest Association, Inc.,             
testified via teleconference in Ketchikan and read the following               
statement into the record:                                                     
"The forest products industry in Southeast Alaska is heavily                   
dependent upon the purchase of timber from the Tongass National                
Forest.  The Tongass Land Management Plan Revision of 1997 has                 
greatly reduced the land within the Tongass that is available for              
timber harvest from 1.7 million acres to a mere 676,000 acres, and             
the maximum average annual allowable sales quantity from 520                   
million board feet (mmbf) to 267 mmbf.  This is considerably below             
the amount the industry needs to sustain the remaining mills in the            
region.  The promises made by Congress in 1990, at the time the                
Tongass Timber Reform Act was made law, that sufficient volume                 
would be made available to sustain direct timber employment in                 
Southeast Alaska have now proven to be hollow.                                 
"The impact on southeast Alaska of the reduced harvest of Tongass              
timber has been drastic.  Thousands of jobs have been lost through             
mill closures, and Federal payments to communities in the form of              
timber receipts have fallen to a tiny fraction of what they were               
previously.  Recently released data indicate that timber receipts              
this year will be down by 83 percent compared to last year.  This              
money is used for schools and road maintenance, so the decline                 
hurts all the residents of the region.                                         
"Now comes the Clinton Administration with its proposed roadless               
moratorium.  This policy is being superimposed upon the National               
Forest System in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act            
and the National Forest Management Act, both of which require a                
public process, not unilateral government actions unrelated to                 
sound science and public review.  The government's new roadless                
policy is top-down management of the worst sort.  It subverts                  
public process and asserts a political strategy in place of sound,             
scientific, professional forest management.  It is bad public                  
policy and is aimed only at promoting the radical environmental                
agenda of stopping all logging on federal land.  The much-touted               
'exemption'  for the Tongass and other Western forests is not, in              
fact, an exemption, but an announcement that the policy will be                
applied through a different mechanism; that is, through forest plan            
"The recent TLMP revision took more than 10 years to write and cost            
the taxpayers more than $13 million.  It includes protection of                
some 90 percent of the roadless areas remaining on the Tongass.                
The Chugach Land Management Plan revision is just beginning, and               
the Chugach National Forest is more than 98 percent roadless.                  
Application of the new roadless policy to the Chugach amounts to               
predetermining the plan revision in the direction of no development            
at all.  Among other consequences, this will effectively prevent               
the Forest Service from addressing the growing spruce bark beetle              
devastation through active forest management.  In the case of both             
Alaska national forests, the roadless policy is unnecessary and                
very harmful to Alaska's economic future.                                      
"The estimated impact on the Tongass timber program is 202.5 mmbf              
per year over the life of the plan.  Given an Allowable Sale                   
Quantity of 267 mmbf, and expected offerings of around 200 mmbf, it            
doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this would                  
finally spell the end to industrial logging in the Tongass.                    
Furthermore, full implementation of the roadless policy (whether               
through direct application or through a plan amendment) will                   
immediately result in a further reduction in timber receipts -                 
amounting to as much as $2.5 million in FY98.  Alaska simply cannot            
afford this government boondoggle into anti-development politics.              
"In short, the government's proposed roadless policy is bad for                
national forests, bad for the American public, and particularly bad            
for Alaska.  The Alaska Forest Association urges the legislature to            
take immediate action to protest this terrible public policy by                
quickly passing House Joint Resolution 49.  We should send a                   
message to the Clinton Administration on behalf of Alaskans and on             
behalf of our counterparts in other states, that the Alaska people             
will not tolerate the Administration's attempts to force a radical             
agenda upon the people of this state and of this country."                     
Number 1340                                                                    
DICK COOSE, Representative, Concerned Alaskans for Resources and               
Environment (CARE), testified via teleconference in Ketchikan.  He             
stated CARE wants responsible access to economic development of                
Alaska's natural resources, therefore, it strongly supports HJR 49.            
Political medaling of the Clinton Administration of our national               
forests needs to stop.  It is causing economic disaster in many                
communities that rely upon national forest resources for                       
MR. COOSE recommended including language in the resolution to                  
prevent any moratorium on any national forest in the United States.            
In addition, he suggested inserting an additional "WHEREAS" on page            
2, line 8, that reads, "the proposed moratorium would eliminate the            
timber industry that remains on many national forests to nearly                
zero."  He also suggested inserting the language "or any national              
forest land management plan" on page 2, line 19 after the word                 
Number 1495                                                                    
MIKE WILLIAMS, Vice President, Chugach Alaska Corporation (CAC),               
testified via teleconference in Anchorage.  The CAC supports HJR
49.  The CAC is currently trying to build a road across Chugach                
National Forest land to access lands given to the corporation under            
the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in the Copper River            
area.  The CAC owns approximately one million acres of land of                 
which 40 percent requires road access across forest service lands.             
Therefore, the CAC is very concerned that the moratorium on no new             
roads would kill or delay plans.                                               
MR. WILLIAMS further stated the roadless policy would frustrate the            
intent of ANCSA and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation            
Act (ANILCA) resulting in costly and timely appeals.  The forest               
service is already subverting its own planning regulations under               
Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations which require the                  
agency to solicit tribal and Alaskan Native input on all planning              
processes that impact the management of Native and Indian owned                
MR. WILLIAMS further stated the roadless policy would restrict the             
CAC from developing its resources valued in excess of $1 billion,              
a payroll value worth $250 million.  It would also impact revenues             
statewide due to ANCSA's sharing provision between Native                      
MR. WILLIAMS further stated the actions of the forest service have             
been developed in a vacuum.  The forest service has forgotten that             
its policies impact in-holders and adjacent landowners.  Ninety-               
eight percent of the Chugach National Forest is inventoried as                 
roadless and virtually all of its roadless area is either within or            
adjacent to conservation units which would result in automatic                 
lock-ups of almost the entire national forest under the proposed               
roadless policy.                                                               
MR. WILLIAMS further stated, in conclusion, with so much of the                
Chugach National Forest and the state of Alaska already protected              
and in a roadless condition, there is no need for this policy in               
Number 1660                                                                    
SCOTT ANAYA, Alaskan Sportsman, testified via teleconference in                
Anchorage.  He stated roads are an irreversible impact and there is            
sound science that indicates roads negatively impact the fish and              
wildlife.  Fish and wildlife are a far more lasting and long-term              
investment for Alaskan families, businesses and economies that                 
thrive on them.  The roadless policy would allow other types of                
logging without the irreversible damage or roads.  For example, on             
the Kenai Peninsula, the brown bears have lost 70 percent of their             
habitat.  There has not been a fall brown bear hunt for the past               
three or four years.  And, in addition, thousands of dollars are               
being spent to study the impact of logging roads on the world-class            
fishing streams.  This is an example of the cost that logging roads            
would bring to the Tongass National Forest and Alaska.                         
Number 1776                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS asked Mr. Coose to fax his recommendations             
to him.  He would like to move the resolution out of the House                 
Resources Standing Committee today.  He would consider                         
recommendations either on the floor of the House of Representatives            
or the Senate.                                                                 
Number 1814                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to move the proposed committee              
substitute for SSHJR 49, version 0-LS1402\B, Luckhaupt, 1/28/98,               
from the committee with individual recommendations and attached                
zero fiscal note.  There being no objection, CSSSHJR 49(RES) moved             
from the House Resources Standing Committee.                                   

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