Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/02/2001 01:10 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 165-KENAI RIVER SPECIAL MANAGEMENT AREA CO-CHAIR SCALZI announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 165, "An Act relating to the Kenai River Special Management Area; and providing for an effective date." [There was a motion to adopt HB 165 for discussion purposes, but it was already before the committee; in committee packets, however, not yet adopted, was a new proposed committee substitute (CS), Version C.] Number 0200 REPRESENTATIVE KEN LANCASTER, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of HB 165, informed the committee that technical corrections to the bill were made by the department; he indicated those corrections are encompassed [in CSHB 165, Version C]. CO-CHAIR SCALZI reminded committee members that at the prior hearing on HB 165 [those amendments were discussed]. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN referred to an e-mail from Dale Bagley, Mayor, Kenai Peninsula Borough, which notes the mayor's opposition to HB 165 because he believes there is enough protected land. Representative Green requested the sponsor's comments on Mr. Bagley's e-mail. Number 0377 REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER characterized the e-mail as "a general negative e-mail in regard to the addition of the KRSMA [Kenai River Special Management Area] land." Representative Lancaster informed the committee that Mr. Bagley did initiate a lawsuit against the state and that issue was resolved. He noted that perhaps [Jim Stratton, Director, Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation, Department of Natural Resources] could speak to that issue. CO-CHAIR SCALZI remarked that there is quite a bit of history with the issue [brought forth by Mayor Bagley]. He agreed with Representative Lancaster that the issue had been resolved. REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA relayed concern she has heard because it has been some time since the public hearing process on this land. She asked when the last public hearings were held. REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER deferred to Mr. Stratton. Number 0516 JIM STRATTON, Director, Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), testified via teleconference. He informed the committee that there were extensive public hearings on the KRSMA update in 1997 and 1998. [The KRSMA update] made the recommendation for the acreage included in HB 165. In the Fall of 1999, the Kenai Area Plan public comment period also included these same recommendations. Although Mr. Stratton didn't have the exact number of hearings, he said perhaps Chris Degernes, Superintendent, Kenai Peninsula Area, Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation (DNR), may have that information. REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER pointed out that most of the resolutions have been updated within the last week, since the committee last heard the bill. Representative Lancaster informed the committee that he had individual testimony and letters of support as well as a few letters of opposition to this bill. He offered to provide those to the committee. Number 0785 CO-CHAIR SCALZI, after determining that some teleconference sites had "fallen off," announced that HB 165 would be taken up again later in the hearing. HB 165-KENAI RIVER SPECIAL MANAGEMENT AREA Number 2040 CO-CHAIR SCALZI announced that the committee would return attention to HOUSE BILL NO. 165, "An Act relating to the Kenai River Special Management Area; and providing for an effective date." REPRESENTATIVE FATE made a motion to adopt the proposed CS for HB 165, Version C, 22-LS0389\C, Luckhaupt, 3/29/01, as a work draft. Number 2065 RED SMITH testified via teleconference. He referred to 1970 and the Seward National Recreation Area Act. He said "they" asked for 1.4 million acres and "we" defeated the federal proposal in Congress three different times. Finally, "we" thought we'd settled it "under AS 9 of the 'D2' settlement." Mr. Smith referred to a letter from U.S. Senator Stevens, which said it had finally been accomplished; however, today this just refers to about 8,000 acres. It is down to a much smaller acreage, he remarked, but the philosophy remains the same: if "we" lock up and lock out, something will be protected. "We" are not protecting the Alaska Statehood Act, the state constitution, or the idea that development will occur in that area, he added. MR. SMITH said he has concerns about parks. He remarked that the settlement agreement was reached in June 2000, and he doesn't believe there is any evidence that these agreements have been fulfilled. The selection right is still ignored and abused; "we" are going too fast with the "set-asides" when proper funding isn't available to manage them. The programs for utilization and Article VIII [of the state constitution] have been totally ignored, with fisheries as the exception. MR. SMITH stated that he was part of a group that requested "public interest intervenor" status on July 10, 2000; he said he would send a copy [of the request] to the committee for consideration prior to taking action. He related his belief that Alaska has gone entirely too far "underground" in these "set-asides," and now management in the Cooper Landing area is critical. MR. SMITH commented that putting a stop sign solved the problem of a bad intersection in front of the Cooper Landing School, but it gets run over because of poor design; he said these are the kinds of solutions [put in place] by the Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation in his community. MR. SMITH commented that [the state] has given the division a lot of authority that it doesn't know how to properly exercise, and land that it can't manage. He said [Alaska] has many federal, state, and local parks, and more attention could be paid to the word "settlement." [A portion of the tape was inaudible.] In 42 years, 3.82 acres of land was made available for community (indisc.). MR. SMITH remarked that he would like to see this bill reviewed in its entirety. Number 2384 EDWARD D. MARTIN, JR., testified via teleconference. He said he has been very vocal on the addition of the Kenai River Special Management Area (KRSMA) and the Kenai Area Plan when it comes into conflict with the borough's selection of lands. The borough signed an agreement that says certain things will be done; however, he is not certain that the legislature would be privy to those. Therefore, he suggested that the legislature review the decision made by the Kenai Peninsula Borough with regard to its selection and the deal made to ensure that the Kenai Area Plan could become a reality. MR. MARTIN clarified that it wasn't really whether or not the borough was getting a selection of land, but rather that the borough was going to get a denial and a relinquishment of borough-selected lands. He directed the committee to the last line in Section 7, which he said makes it very clear. He objected to this; he said after 40 years of statehood, with numerous undermanaged and underfunded parks, people of the state [still] have little land available for settlement. The communities and the state can't be sustained for revenues if money continues [to be allocated] for state parks, rather than placing it on the tax rolls. MR. MARTIN remarked that this situation is affecting whether his children can stay in Alaska and find land or will be taxed out of existence because there isn't enough land in the tax base to support schools. Alaska has a dead national forest and no revenue is coming from it, he said. This is another negative effect on our constitution, Article VIII, Section 1, which reads as follows: "It is the policy of the State to encourage the settlement of its land and the development of its resources by making them available for maximum use consistent with the public interest." MR. MARTIN said he wished [the legislature] would realize that the constitution already has a policy and thus doesn't give [authority] to the departments to create a new ad hoc policy. He urged the legislature to look into this more deeply. He said [former commissioner] John Shively has created a de facto law, and the departments are currently managing [KRSMA] as such. Number 2553 DALE BONDURANT testified via teleconference. He remarked that he is in full support of the addition to KRSMA and the added protection for habitat. He maintained that there is a constitutional mandate that Alaska's fish, wildlife, and water public trust resources be protected for current and future generations. As time goes on, [Alaska] is going to need added protection for public trust resources. Now is the time to move this addition forward, because later will be too late. Number 2615 CHRIS GARCIA testified via teleconference. He stated that he is not in favor of locking up land just for the sake of locking it up; however, when KRSMA was first formed, he attended most of the meetings, and [KRSMA] has done a "pretty fair job." He couldn't say whether he was in favor or opposed to the legislation, he told the committee, because he hasn't done enough research to know what it encompasses. Number 2665 REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI noted that former Representative and Speaker of the House Gail Phillips was present at the meeting. Number 2695 REPRESENTATIVE FATE moved to report CSHB 165, version 22- LS0389\C, Luckhaupt, 3/29/01, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSHB 165(RES) was moved out of the House Resources Standing Committee.