Legislature(1999 - 2000)
02/11/1999 10:15 AM Senate FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 12 "An Act classifying anadromous streams and tributaries; relating to the designation of riparian areas; establishing buffers on certain streams and relating to slope stability standards on certain streams; and requiring retention of low value timber along certain water bodies where prudent." SENATOR JERRY MACKIE referred to the sponsor statement but said he would not read it into the record. SB 12 was a return from last session. It passed the Senate and the House but got caught up in the last shuffle when the Legislature got ready to adjourn, according to the sponsor. He told the committee that this bill was a consensus agreed to by the forest industry, the fishing communities and the environmental community. The bill would make changes to the Forest Practices Act, which governs forestry in Alaska, and specifically deals with Region One. Region One is essentially made up of the coastal areas from Southeast Alaska north to Kodiak; were anadromous streams and rivers occur. The bill would add more protection to those streams where salmon are running, Senator Jerry Mackie said. In doing that it would add different types of classifications. As far as he knew there was no controversy for the bill. It would go a long way to provide better public policy in the management of Alaska's fish streams. Co-Chair John Torgerson asked if this was the exact same bill as the one passed by the Senate during the prior session. Senator Mackie responded that while the bill was not exactly the same as came out of the Senate, it contained the exact changes that were adopted by the House of Representatives. It was the current version that all parties agreed to, he stated. Senator Al Adams stated that because the bill had the support of all stakeholders, he was ready to move it from committee. JEFF JAHNKE, State Forester, Division of Forestry, Department of Natural Resources testified on behalf of the department and the State Board of Forestry in favor of the bill. He said that this bill was a consensus as a result of a review of the Forest Practices Act in Region One. It would do a couple of things. I would change the stream classification and riparian management standards to allow for coverage of all anadromous streams and their tributaries. All anadromous streams would be classified either as either type "A" or "B" and buffered and flexibility standards would be applied to them, he said. Tributaries to anadromous would be classified as either type "C" or "D" and flexibility standards would be applied to them. Mr. Jahnke pointed out some important key points behind the consensus reached resulting in this bill. First, the process and the resulting recommendation were based on the best available scientific information. Secondly, the process was open to the public. He stressed that many different interests were involved in each of the steps. The next key point was that the results were supported by a wide range of interests represented by the Board of Forestry and the three natural resource agencies. Those interests included commercial fishing, forest industry, native corporations, environmental organizations, mining, fish and wildlife biologists, professional foresters and recreationalists. He concluded by saying this was a good bill. It provided additional protection to key water bodies in coastal Alaska in a way that was workable for the timber industry. Senator John Torgerson asked if more trees would be harvested as a result of this legislation. Jeff Jahnke replied that it would not impact the harvesting of timber. Senator John Torgerson commented that he felt the correct answer would be that the state would then put up more timber sales because this protects the habitat, fishing and the division had now identified more areas away from anadromous streams that could be put up for sale. Jeff Jahnke responded that this bill would strengthen the compliance with clean water requirements and would allow for increased harvest. JACK PHLEPS, Executive Director, Alaska Forest Association testified that the timber industry fully supported the bill. It will cost some money in terms of additional protections but it demonstrated the association's commitment to following science and forest practices. He urged the committee to move the bill through quickly. Senator Al Adams offered a motion to move SB 12 from committee with the accompanying fiscal note. Without objection, the motion carried.