Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124
05/02/2005 01:00 PM RESOURCES
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HJR 17-FEDERAL LANDS RECREATION ENHANCEMENT ACT CO-CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 17 Opposing the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. JENNIFER BAXTER, Staff to Representative Jim Elkins, Alaska State Legislature, said HJR 17 opposes the Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act, which allows the forest service, park service, bureau of land management, fish and wildlife service, and bureau of reclamation to charge fees for recreational use of federally managed land by the public. Once enacted, fees will be required to access certain lands, she said. She noted that the federal government manages two thirds of Alaska lands, and a fee would be regressive and impose an undue burden on rural people who use these lands. She listed other states that have suggested similar resolutions. 3:32:26 PM CO-CHAIR SAMUELS said he buys a sticker to go to the Chugach State Park, so he asked why the federal government shouldn't do the same thing. MS. BAXTER said it would be an additional fee on top of what our state already charges. CO-CHAIR SAMUELS asked if there is a charge now. MS. BAXTER said she doesn't believe so. CO-CHAIR SAMUELS moved to adopt the committee substitute (CS) for HJR 17, labeled 24-LS0847\Y, as a work draft. 3:33:36 PM CO-CHAIR SAMUELS asked if a person has to pay to use a federal park, like to raft in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. MS. BAXTER said, "The National Park Service, right now--one of our national forests is the Tongass National Forest, and our state isn't charging access fees, currently, to use certain lands, and I don't believe that the federal government is charging fees to use, like the national forest service, as far as in Southeast that I know of." REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked if the policy in Alaska is different, because she recalls user fees for Yellowstone. MS. BAXTER said she doesn't know. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO mentioned the federal government's Golden Eagle Pass for national parks. MS. BAXTER said the federal resolution proposes an annual pass. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said HJR 17 tells the government not to charge for the use of federal lands, but it already charges through the Golden Eagle Pass, and he asked if the resolution is asking for an exemption. MS. BAXTER said, "I believe that this is an additional fee. What this resolution would enact, an additional fee to what we already pay the federal government for the use of public lands." REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS said this is about all federal lands. "They don't charge you today to go hunting in the Tongass National Forest, but they could." 3:36:56 PM REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked if the resolution exempts parks. MS. BAXTER said it includes the National Park Service. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said, "We have been trying to get people that utilize the woods for -- the greenies -- the people that are using them for other than hunting, and that we've had the complaints that only hunters pay for the maintenance of trails and all these other things. Is the intent of this to mean that only hunters will pay ... through the hunting license fees for any of the maintenance and everything on all the federal lands, recreational lands in Alaska? MS. BAXTER asked if Representative Seaton is asking if it is in addition to fees for a hunting license. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON clarified that if recreationists aren't charged, only hunters will pay for federal lands. MS. BAXTER said, "What these fees would impose--they say the federal government would--the tax would go toward that certain site for maintenance, but our city and borough taxes pay for the facilities and upkeep, as is. So this would be in addition to what we are already paying for the maintenance of the facilities. And it wouldn't just be restricted to hunters." REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS said his hunting fee never went to maintain any federal lands. 3:40:06 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he misspoke, he didn't mean hunting licenses, but duck stamps and federal permits. REPRESENTATIVE OLSON moved to report HJR 17, labeled 24- LS0847\Y, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, CSHJR 17(RES) passed out of committee.