Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/25/1996 03:38 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSHB 58(RES) CHICKALOON FLATS CRITICAL HABITAT AREA CHAIRMAN LEMAN brought CSHB 58(RES) before the committee. REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE , prime sponsor of HB 58, explained Chickaloon Flats is an extremely accessible area across the inlet from Anchorage, and there is some concern among hunters about the existence of resting and hunting areas for waterfowl. The legislation will create a critical habitat area that does not preclude but, in fact, encourages hunting and access. However, it provides that if there is anything that would disrupt the nesting of waterfowl, it would have to go through the Department of Fish & Game. The legislation is to assure adequate habitat for waterfowl, and it does not create any stumbling blocks for future development, nor will it inhibit access for any outdoor recreational purpose. Number 368 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked what potential encroaching dangers the hunters are concerned about. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE responded that he doesn't think there is any potential development in that area planned at this time, but that the hunters are just looking down the road twenty or thirty years to protect the habitat of the area and the access to the area. Number 400 SENATOR LINCOLN commented that a section of the bill permits entry within the Chickaloon Flats Critical Habitat Area for the exploration and development of oil and gas resources when it is compatible with the purposes for which the critical habitat area is established, but she didn't how that entry could ever be compatible with the guarantees that have been established for the area. SENATOR FRANK asked if there is any scientific data to support the notion that oil and gas development on the North Slope has affected waterfowl in that area. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE , speaking from his own experience of working on the slope for 15 years, said production has had not any serious impact. However, he thinks exploration and seismic activity during the nesting and staging area could create a problem. SENATOR FRANK voiced concern about allowing access to the area by all-terrain vehicles and possibly horses because of the potential tearing up of the vegetation. GERON BRUCE , Legislative Liaison, Department of Fish & Game, stated the department is in support of HB 58. He noted this area is authorized under AS 16.20.500, which is the enabling legislation setting up the fish and game critical habitat areas. He believes some of the concerns expressed are addressed by the linkage between that enabling legislation and this particular bill that sets out this specific critical habitat area. He said it is basically a multiple-use area, but the significance of authorizing it as a critical habitat area is that other uses conducted there have to be compatible with its primary function. In the case of an all- terrain vehicle, there might be certain circumstances in which it would not be damaging to the primary purpose of protecting that habitat, but there might be other situations where it would be, and the department has the flexibility within this program to make those calls. SENATOR FRANK said he thought the legislation should be clear that users of all-terrain vehicles have to have permission from the commissioner of the department before taking them into the area. TAPE 96-35, SIDE B Number 001 SENATOR LINCOLN noted that subsection (c) on page 2 provides that the state may acquire more lands for inclusion in the Chickaloon Flats Critical Habitat Area, so it appears that the area could be expanded beyond what is currently shown on the map. She then proposed an amendment to page 2, line 23, changing the word "shall" to "may." She said if there is going to be an expansion of the area and then the exploration of development of oil and gas, it shouldn't be automatic. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE pointed out that there are two small islands out in the bay that are privately owned and that is the only private property that would be available for expansion, and the only reason that was considered was so that those people wouldn't be frozen out of access to their property. SENATOR FRANK asked Mr. Bruce if the department feels that there is adequate protection in state law and existing authority to handle any threat to this bird area rather than passing this legislation. MR. BRUCE responded that he doesn't think that impetus for it is motivated so much by a threat as it is more from the standpoint that these people regard it as a special area and they look at this provision as a way to gain that kind of recognition. SENATOR FRANK asked if this area is open to mineral entry. MR. BRUCE acknowledged that it is a multiple use area, and unless specifically prohibited in the statute establishing the critical habitat area, it would be open to mineral entry as long as it was compatible with the fish and wildlife habitat in the area. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE pointed out it is below mean high tide, and the only reason the exploration and development of oil and gas is mentioned is that they are the only resources that anybody has indicated that there's a possibility of locating there. Number 150 SENATOR TAYLOR questioned the total number of acres involved in this critical habitat area, and what number of acres do they propose removing from another critical habitat area so that it will be available for multiple use. Number 200 SENATOR LINCOLN moved the following amendment to CSHB 58(RES): Amendment No. 1 Page 2, line 23: Delete "shall" and insert "may" SENATOR FRANK objected to the adoption of the amendment. After further discussion on the amendment, the roll was taken with the following result: Senator Lincoln voted "Yea" and Senators Frank, Halford, Pearce, Hoffman and Leman voted "Nay." The Chairman stated the motion failed. SENATOR TAYLOR moved the following amendment to CSHB 58(RES): Amendment No. 2 Page 2, line 13: Between the words "boat" and "aircraft" insert "hovercraft, helicopter, ultra lite and crawler tractor" SENATOR LINCOLN objected to the adoption of the amendment. The roll was taken with the following result: Senator Taylor voted "Yea" and Senators Halford, Lincoln, Hoffman, Leman, Pearce and Frank voted "Nay." The Chairman stated the motion failed. There being no further discussion on CSHB 58(RES), CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR HALFORD moved CSHB 58(RES) be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR TAYLOR objected. The roll was taken with the following result: Senators Hoffman, Leman and Halford voted "Yea" and Senators Taylor, Lincoln, Pearce and Frank voted "Nay." The Chairman stated the motion failed.