Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/10/1997 03:40 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                SB  64 SHUYAK ISLAND STATE PARK                               
  CHAIRMAN HALFORD  called the Senate Resources Committee meeting to           
 order at 3:40 p.m. and announced  CSSB 64  to be up for                       
  SENATOR TAYLOR  moved to adopt the Resources Committee CS.  There            
 were no objections and it was so ordered.   SENATOR LINCOLN  objected         
 to hear the changes.                                                          
  SENATOR MACKIE,  sponsor of SB 64, said the CS adopts the amendments         
 that were made in the House Resources Committee dealing with                  
 traditional access and protection of hunting and commercial fishing           
 activities within the Park.  He said he introduced the bill at the            
 request of Mayor Selby and the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly.  It            
 presents one of the final actions of a long and complex effort by             
 State and federal authorities and local affected municipalities to            
 compensate for the effects of the Valdez oil spill.  The bill adds            
 specific land and water areas to the Shuyak State Park which was              
 the first part of the Borough that was heavily impacted by the                
 westward streaming oil patches from the 1989 accident.                        
 The two large land owners on Shuyak Island are the State and Kodiak           
 Island Borough.  Previous litigation had imposed management                   
 restrictions that required the State to maintain wildlife habitat             
 and public recreation values while the Borough was partially                  
 prohibited from commercial or industrial uses on its lands.  In               
 1984 the Shuyak State Park was established from part of the State's           
 holdings to protect the areas fish and wildlife habitat and public            
 recreational activities while maintaining customary fishing and               
 hunting uses.                                                                 
 One of the provisions of the spill settlement was the establishment           
 of a joint federal/State Council to manage the remediation and                
 recovery efforts.  Those responsibilities include the replacement             
 of lost fish and wildlife habitat with the acquisition and                    
 protection of other high value habitat.  It is for this purpose               
 that the Oil Spill Trustee Council selected the Borough Shuyak                
 Island lands and purchased them in 1996.  The final part of this              
 effort is the consolidation of the lands under the protective                 
 management of the Shuyak State Park.  SB 64 completes this                    
 transaction by formally incorporating all State lands on the Island           
 into the Shuyak Island State Park.  The expanded park retains the             
 management goals, purposes, and allowed use of the original park.             
  SENATOR TAYLOR  asked what the fish and wildlife habitat were being          
 protected from.  SENATOR MACKIE said Mr. Selby should respond to              
 that question when he addresses the Committee via teleconference.             
  MR. JEROME SELBY,  Kodiak, said this is an effort from the community         
 that has been on-going for about 10-years.  Shuyak Island was                 
 identified as one of the highest value habitats for the injured               
 species long-term recovery after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.                  
 On Kodiak Island, he said, they don't look at it as locking                   
 something up, but as opening it to opportunities for a different              
 type of development, tourism.  He said they already have logging              
 going on Afognak Island and this gives them a chance to diversify.            
 He said the State Parks has about four cabins up there already that           
 are very heavily used.                                                        
 He said the language in the CS really deals more with establishing            
 the rights for use by people and enhances traditional public access           
 and use of the area's natural resources for various activities.               
 SENATOR MACKIE stated that he had no knowledge of opposition to               
 this bill including hunting groups and other recreational users,              
 both in Kodiak and other areas as long as the bill keeps this                 
  SENATOR LINCOLN  withdrew her objection.  There were no further              
 objections and the CS for SB 64 was adopted.                                  
 There was discussion of the acreage in the park.  SENATOR TAYLOR              
 asked for the total acreage.  MR. SELBY said it was 35,000 acres.             
 SENATOR TAYLOR calculated and said it had to be more than that -              
 around 38,000 acres.                                                          
  SENATOR MACKIE  asked if there were certain provisions requiring the         
 land had to be in State park status for it to be a valid agreement.           
 MR. SELBY replied that was right and basically were some deed                 
 restrictions on the sale of the land and that was reviewed by the             
 Legislative Budget and Audit Committee at the time they approved              
 the purchase.  However, the focus of the legislation is different             
 than a plain parks bill, because it's directed more towards                   
 hunting, fishing, and traditional uses.                                       
  SENATOR TAYLOR  said his concern is that this legislation                    
 significantly restricts other valid uses of the property.  He said            
 that changing the land to a park does not protect it from another             
 oil spill.                                                                    
  SENATOR SHARP  asked if there was anything in the agreement with the         
 Trustees Council on the purchase of the Borough land to be                    
 incorporated with the existing State Park that would require the              
 remaining State lands to be part of the deal.  MR. SELBY said there           
 was nothing in the agreement on that issue because it dealt only              
 with the 26,000 that was sold by Kodiak Island Borough and the deed           
 restrictions would apply only to land that was actually sold.                 
 SENATOR SHARP asked if any of the streams were navigable for                  
 access.  MR. SELBY replied that the streams aren't large enough to            
 be considered navigable waters.                                               
  CHAIRMAN HALFORD  said he liked the agreement because it gets $42            
 million away from the Exxon Valdez trustees and gives it to one of            
 the municipalities.  He wished there was a way to get it to other             
 municipalities as well.                                                       
 Number 313                                                                    
  SENATOR LEMAN  asked what process was going to be followed to                
 determine what firearm prohibitions are and would the                         
 interpretation of "for personal protection" keep people from other            
 activities that they may currently be doing, like recreational                
 target practice, etc.  SENATOR MACKIE said there needed to be some            
 ability to restrict shooting around campgrounds and ranger stations           
 while still allowing people to carry sidearms.                                
  MS. CAROL CARROL,  Department of Natural Resources, explained that           
 the way the Division of Parks would implement any kind of                     
 restriction of discharge of a firearm would be through a park plan            
 and that plan would identify where areas would be developed.  If it           
 would be a campground, at the time that campground is developed,              
 they would put a regulation in place that would restrict discharge            
 of a firearm for a quarter mile around that area which is how the             
 public use cabins are now.                                                    
  SENATOR LINCOLN  asked why it was necessary to change the language           
 regarding the use of weapons in unique areas that may be closed for           
 purposes of public safety.  SENATOR MACKIE said the House Resources           
 Committee felt this language would better guaranteed that people              
 would be able to carry firearms for personal protection, sports and           
 hunting.  MS. CARROL said they were at that meeting and they do not           
 have a problem with this.                                                     
  SENATOR SHARP  said he would be more comfortable on line 5 if it             
 said "possession" instead of "use"  and on line 6 "restricted" use            
 of a weapon instead of "prohibited."  There followed some                     
 discussion as to the exact wording.  SENATOR LEMAN said he wanted             
 to protect the ability to carry and use a firearm, but the use can            
 be restricted.                                                                
  SENATOR TAYLOR  moved to insert on page 4, line 5 -7 (b)  Possession         
 and use of the weapon may be restricted only under extraordinary              
 circumstances and only in such areas where public safety is                   
 threatened.  There were no objections and it was so ordered.                  
 SENATOR MACKIE noted the other part they may be interested in                 
 starts on line 14 and speaks to traditional access for traditional            
 hunting, sport, and subsistence uses in State parks and State                 
  CHAIRMAN HALFORD  said the last sentence change at the bottom of             
 page 4 makes the idea more cumbersome and implies a statement                 
 supporting acquisition of private land.                                       
 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to amend page 5, line 1 to reinsert "not" and            
 delete the word "except" as underlined so the line would read, "The           
 Commissioner may not acquire land and water within the boundaries             
 of the Shuyak State Park by eminent domain."  There were no                   
 objections and it was adopted.                                                
  MS. KIM SCHMIDT  supported SB 64.  She said she had worked on Shuyak         
 Island in the summer of 1995 as an Alaska State Parks volunteer and           
 wanted to underscore how widely used this park is.   SENATOR TAYLOR           
  asked how many additional cabins needed to be built.  She said               
 projections would have to be made and rustic campsites would also             
 have to be considered.  She said there was possibly one private               
 business in the form of a hunting lodge on the Island; however, it            
 might be closed.                                                              
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked what impact there would be on the mining                 
 claims that are in the park.  MS. SCHMIDT said she knew of only one           
 that was in the park and it was used more as a fish camp than an              
 actual mining cite.                                                           
 SENATOR SHARP asked if there was other wildlife on there that was             
 hunted.  MS. SCHMIDT replied that there is a little bit of                    
 everything and the interior is densely forested, the shoreline has            
 open spaces; there is incredible marine mammal life.  She said it's           
 pretty low, the highest spot being 508 ft.                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR said that all the Sitka black tailed deer were                 
 introduced to that Island in 1927 by the federal government.                  
  MR. DICK BISHOP,  Alaska Outdoor Council, noted that 60% of Alaska           
 is in federal ownership and under ANILCA subsistence has priority             
 use on federal lands over other uses of fish and game except for              
 non-consumptive uses.  The potential is always there to lose                  
 opportunity for hunting and trapping and conceivably fishing.                 
 He thought this bill needed strengthening to reassure the                     
 opportunities for hunting and fishing were protected. It does not             
 mean they couldn't be properly restricted with regard to seasons              
 and bag limits and other measures that are necessary for sound                
 biological management.  He said the McNeil State Game Refuge was an           
 example where the legislature chose to leave the regulation of the            
 use of the fish and game to the Boards.  Everyone was happy with              
 that, but because it was politically correct, the Board of Game               
 eventually closed the McNeil Refuge to the opportunity to hunt                
 brown bears in that area.  He thought that set a dangerous                    
 precedent in terms of Board action.  This is why the Alaska Outdoor           
 Council would like to see additional assurance of the protection of           
 legitimate, lawful, appropriate, and traditional uses of the                  
 State's fish and wildlife by the public.                                      
  SENATOR SHARP  commented that he was present when that was put               
 through.  Assurance was even put in the statute about bear hunting,           
 in particular, being allowed.  The only justification for that bill           
 was that they had installed a fish ladder on the Paint River which            
 they thought would draw bears from McNeil.  Then they realized they           
 would be killing the bears with names.  SENATOR LEMAN said the fish           
 ladder never became functional because of lawsuits against Cook               
 Inlet Aquaculture Association.                                                
 TAPE 97-17, SIDE B                                                            
 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to adopt amendment #1, Luckhaupt3/10/97B.1               
 which would accomplish the substance of Mr. Bishop's testimony.  It           
 allows for the temporary implementation of emergency closures or              
 regulations due to a biological emergency which, he believed, would           
 allow sufficient leeway to allow the commercial fishing agencies to           
 move markers in and out of various bays which they have been doing            
 historically, anyhow.  If they were going to do a permanent                   
 closure, they would still have to come back to the legislature and            
 make that as a policy call.                                                   
  CHAIRMAN HALFORD  asked how this related to normal seasons, bag              
 limits, openings, closures, etc.                                              
  SENATOR MACKIE  asked if all seasons had to be approved by the               
 legislature, as well.  His two concerns with the amendment are that           
 he saw this amendment five minutes before the meeting started and             
 that he didn't know if it was good policy to bring management                 
 decisions back to the legislature for approval.  He does support              
 the efforts being made to make sure traditional access and use is             
 not restricted on public lands in the State.  Tying it in to this             
 one specific park gives him concern also.  He thought they should             
 find a solution for that particular problem (McNeil River), but               
 maybe address it in a bill that would include all parks.  He said             
 he would appreciate not adopting this amendment until they have an            
 opportunity to address his and the Chairman's concerns.                       
  CHAIRMAN HALFORD  said he thought it was legitimate to bring it up           
 specifically in this bill, but he thought they needed the correct             
 language.  His concern is if this bill passes, it's possible for              
 half the Island to become a viewing operation and be closed to                
 hunting, but being supported and managed through the fees of                  
 hunters and fishermen.                                                        
  SENATOR TAYLOR  moved on line 13 to insert "permanently" between the         
 words "not closed" and delete the words "temporary and" on line 16.           
 SENATOR MACKIE said he thought it would be really far fetched to              
 assume something like McNeil River would happen again especially              
 with it being in statute that they are not going to restrict lawful           
 use of sport, commercial, and traditional activities.                         
 MR. BISHOP said that in the State Game book there are two or three            
 proposals to close areas on Kodiak Island to hunting in order to              
 accommodate wildlife viewing.  Under federal regulations there are            
 numerous proposals restricting opportunities for the general public           
 to only local, qualified residents.  SENATOR MACKIE noted that some           
 of the proposals being looked at on federal land would apply here             
 and asked if this poses a problem as far as the administration's              
 powers are versus the legislature's in terms of being able to enact           
 regulations which they are charged with doing.  He is concerned               
 that there may be a problem generated by this amendment that will             
 bring down the whole bill.                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR said he thought there was a constitutional conflict            
 if the legislature is given the authority to impose regulations,              
 because there's probably an inherent authority within the                     
 Constitution for the Executive to impose those regulations that may           
 be necessary to carry out the laws that the legislature passes.               
 However, there's never been a finding of that on the State level.             
 The only case he's aware of on the federal level was the Babbit               
 decision that we never got to litigate.  In that decision the court           
 literally said Congress must have meant to give the authority to              
 impose those regulations and they just forgot to, so authority is             
 assumed.  He thought they could pass a law that says you cannot               
 pass any regulations upon this park and it would be upheld.                   
  SENATOR LINCOLN  said she had a real problem with line 15 of the             
 amendment, "approved by the legislature," and she suggested leaving           
 it out.  She thought the legislature could close an area not                  
 because of biological emergencies and the Board of Fisheries and              
 Board of Game is appointed to oversee and manage our resources for            
 Number 370                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR restated his motion and added to delete on line 15,            
 "(1) approved by the legislature; or) and on line 16 delete "(2)              
 temporary and."  There were no objections and it was so adopted.              
  SENATOR TAYLOR  moved to pass CSSB 64(RES) from committee with               
 individual recommendations.  There were no objections and it was so           

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