Legislature(1997 - 1998)
03/10/1997 03:40 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 consideration. 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 wording. 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 lands. 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 abundance. 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 ordered.