Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/14/1993 03:43 PM Senate RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 SENATOR MILLER announced  HJR 28  (SUPPORT KANTISHNA AREA                     
 TOURISM DEVELOP'T) to be up for consideration.                                
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE, prime sponsor of HJR 28, explained this                 
 resolution basically supports the concept of having the state                 
 establish a rail utility corridor that it can lease to the                    
 private sector for the development of an electric rail                        
 transportation system.  Currently over 400,000 people are                     
 being turned away from Denali Park who would like to go in.                   
 This corridor would provide the access.  It is environmentally                
 sound and is contained access.                                                
 CHAD COURSEY, Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism                        
 Association, read testimony from Nancy Lethcoe, President.                    
 The testimony opposed HJR 28, because it is an anti-small                     
 business bill masquerading as tourism development.  He also                   
 opposed development of a visitor activity area and the                        
 establishment of a utility corridor into Kantishna by private                 
 Number 174                                                                    
 LENORE SAPPINGTON, Denali Citizens Council, strongly opposed                  
 HJR 28, because a road entrance from the north side would not                 
 be good for tourism, wildlife, or visitors.  The Kantishna                    
 Resource Management Plan, released in 1990, said commercial                   
 development was not good for the park.  HJR 28 is not an                      
 environmentally sensitive plan.                                               
 MS. SAPPINGTON said there are rumors that people have been                    
 turned away from the park which is simply not true.  She                      
 suggested the Finance Committee look at how much a new                        
 corridor would really cost.                                                   
 SENATOR MILLER said the co-chairmen of Finance would be                       
 looking at that.                                                              
 Number 280                                                                    
 DAN ASHBROOK, Denali Park, supported HJR 28.  He said the                     
 tourist trade is just going to increase and the road is                       
 saturated now.                                                                
 Number 303                                                                    
 JOSEPH FIELDS, Kantishna Group, Incorporated, supported HJR
 28. He said Mount Denali should be accessible.  There should                  
 also be a study of tourism and its impact to the land.                        
 Tourism should have the same standing as the other resources                  
 of the state, MR. FIELDS said.                                                
 Number 342                                                                    
 VALERIE MUNDT, member of Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce,                       
 supported HJR 28 and development in the Kantishna area by the                 
 private sector.  She said there is not a watershed in the area                
 that hasn't been mined.  It is not yet a wilderness.  Every                   
 opportunity there has developed from mining.                                  
 MS. MUNDT suggested changing "rail utility corridor" to a                     
 "transportation corridor."                                                    
 IRENE MORRIS, Alaska Environmental Lobby, opposed HJR 28,                     
 because it advocates aggressive pursuit of a new access route                 
 and more development in Denali Park's Kantishna area.  She                    
 said DOT is currently conducting a location study for improved                
 access to Kantishna.                                                          
 MS. MORRIS stated the proposed railroad would cost $189                       
 million dollars.  She asked how they would do that without                    
 public money and who would pay to maintain and repair it?                     
 SENATOR MILLER asked if the Alaska Environmental Lobby was                    
 against a southern entrance.  MS. MORRIS said they were not                   
 against it.  SENATOR MILLER said that many environmental                      
 groups opposed southern development.                                          
 Number 424                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY asked if there could be essentially a circuit                  
 of traffic from south to north.  He asked what was so                         
 sensitive in that area where mining had been a thriving                       
 industry.  MS. MORRIS said she would have to get back to them                 
 on that.                                                                      
 Number 439                                                                    
 CLYDE STOLTZFUS, Special Assistant, Department of DOT,                        
 supported HJR 28 and access to Kantishna, in general.  He said                
 they are currently doing a location and environmental study                   
 for access from the Parks Highway to McGrath, with access into                
 Kantishna.  This resolution would not change their activity.                  
 That is why there is a $0 fiscal note. They will look at both                 
 road and rail access.                                                         
 MR. STOTLTZFUS said there are  9 - 10 RS2477's in the northern                
 part of the Park.  That means there has been a lot of mining                  
 activity in the northern part of the Park - a lot more than                   
 in the southern part.  So it is actually more environmentally                 
 benign to go into the northern part of the Park.                              
 Number 459                                                                    
 CONNEL MURRAY, Director of Tourism, supported the general                     
 concepts in HJR 28.  He said Alaska is getting more and more                  
 independent visitors (as opposed to those who come on a                       
 "package deal").  They don't have advance arrangements made                   
 for them.  Based on mail and telephone calls to the Division                  
 of Tourism, they know there are many thousands of visitors who                
 come to Alaska with the express purpose of visiting Denali who                
 cannot get into the park.  The people who do go are jammed                    
 into a narrow and overcrowded corridor.  The addition of a                    
 Kantishna access could double the number of people who could                  
 enjoy the Park.                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER thanked everyone for their testimony and closed                
 the public hearing on HJR 28.                                                 

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