Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124
01/27/2017 01:00 PM RESOURCES
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HB 6-JONESVILLE PUBLIC USE AREA 1:56:51 PM CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 6, "An Act establishing the Jonesville Public Use Area." 1:57:15 PM REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER, speaking as the sponsor, informed the committee HB 6 was written to address problems that have existed since 2009 or longer. The area of the Jonesville coal mines has been progressively deteriorating; the [Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977] provided federal funds for mines that did not have accounts or bonds for reclamation, such as mines in operation in the 1930s and earlier. After the Jonesville coal mines closed in the 1970s, millions of dollars in reclamation funds have been used for roads, recreational vehicle parking, and to suppress coal fires. However, after roads and parking were provided, the area grew in popularity. Public use also grew due to the establishment of the Knik River Public Use Area, because some of its former users moved to Sutton for activities. He opined a management plan for the Jonesville area was not anticipated, thus many activities ensued that the state is unable to curtail. Representative Rauscher stated that as more people come to recreate, management of the area is needed so that activities can coexist safely to prevent shooting across an unmarked trail where four-wheelers are riding, or shooting near homes. Without signage, people are unaware of private property and because that is not a healthy situation for homeowners, local residents contacted local and state representatives for guidance. Government representatives advised that property owners should organize, gather information, and canvas the communities and user groups. He referred to documents provided in the committee packet. The Sutton Community Council formed a committee that contacted all of the users to ensure that all of the user groups recognized the problem. The Department of Natural Resources and the Alaska State Troopers also provided guidance, and it was decided to model a solution after the Knik River Public Use Area. No government money was spent except for that of the local communities, and a document was produced that described how to achieve a management plan for the land, including the enabling legislative agreement to create a public use area. In the meantime, a person was shot, and many other accidents have happened in the area. Representative Rauscher advised that the community seeks to write a management plan which would be revised and/or adopted by the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, without cost to the state. 2:06:29 PM DARRELL BREESE, staff, Representative George Rauscher, Alaska State Legislature, said Section 1 of the bill states the purpose of creating the Jonesville Public Use Area and its goals: • year round public recreation for an area popular for camping, hiking, skiing, and riding snow machines • protect wildlife such as waterfowl, fish, and game • provide full spectrum of public uses for motorized and non-motorized recreation, ATVs, snow machines, mountain bikes, horses, sled dogs • allow continued access for mining and to private property MR. BREESE explained that Section 2 deals with management and after adopting the public use area the process of developing a management plan begins with public hearings. After the community process of drafting the plan, the commissioner [of DNR], in consultation with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, will adopt the plan. On page 2, line 29, the bill allows the commissioner to define and restrict incompatible uses to certain areas. On page 3, line 6, the bill defines what the commissioner cannot restrict, including lawful hunting, fishing, trapping, the use of weapons and firearms, and other recreational opportunities. Mr. Breese paraphrased from HB 6 on page 3, beginning on line 17, as follows: (B) include all-terrain vehicles, aircraft, watercraft, snowmachining, horseback riding, hiking, bicycling, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, skijoring, camping, hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing, photography, and, where permitted, rifle and pistol ranges, parking of vehicles, and mineral exploration and mining; and MR. BREESE said the intent is to provide access that all Alaskans can enjoy. On page 4, beginning at line 8, is a legal description of the boundary area which is to be corrected by a forthcoming amendment. On page 5, beginning at line 17, the bill describes enforcement authority to that of Alaska State Troopers. On page 5, beginning at line 21 and continuing to page 6, line 2, other authority is held as follows: (1) an employee of the department or another person authorized by the commissioner; (2) a peace officer, as that term is defined in AS 01.10.060. (b) A person designated in (a) of this section may, when enforcing the provisions of AS 41.23.280 - 41.23.289 or a regulation adopted under AS 41.23.280 - 41.23.289, (1) execute a warrant or other process issued by an officer or court of competent jurisdiction; (2) administer or take an oath, affirmation, or affidavit; and (3) issue a citation or arrest a person who violates a provision of AS 41.23.280 - 41.23.289 or a regulation adopted under AS 41.23.280 - 41.23.289. (c) A citation issued under (b) of this section must comply with the provisions of AS 12.25.175 - 12.25.230 MR. BREESE said the final section describes penalties that may be imposed. CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON deferred a question related to the penalty portion to the next hearing of the bill. 2:12:41 PM ED FOGELS, Deputy Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Natural Resources, agreed that the situation in the Jonesville area has been accurately described by the bill's sponsor. The department has special areas of which it has enforcement authority and active management, but it does not have the resources to exercise active management of the majority of state land. Situations develop, such as that of the Knik River Public Use Area, where there were significant issues, and after a similar bill was passed, the problem was "essentially solved." He advised DNR does not have objections to the bill, but he pointed out that the Knik River Public Use Area bill was successful because it attached a fiscal note granting DNR resources to actively management the area; however, HB 6 lacks fiscal resources. The department will be involved in the creation of the management plan that may be adopted by the commissioner if it meets all of the state's interests. Although DNR does not have staffing for active management and enforcement, he said the department is very interested in solving issues in this area. 2:15:25 PM CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON announced HB 6 was held over.