Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/23/1997 03:40 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 23 STATE LAND MANAGEMENT: ACCESS & RESTRICT CHAIRMAN HALFORD announced HB 23 to be up for consideration. MR. ED GRASSER , Staff to Representative Beverly Masek, sponsor of HB 23, said HB 23 continues the effort to protect public access on public lands in Alaska. Last year this legislation had overwhelming support from the House and the Senate. They have worked on this version with DNR to make it apply to the proper sections. It protects the public's right to access public lands for traditional uses, like hunting, fishing, trapping, snow machining, and dog sledding. It also has a section protecting the interests of private property owners and people who hold a lease for mining and oil and gas exploration. He said they had received a lot of support from the public as well as the Alaska Boaters Association, the Alaska Outdoor Council, Matanuska Valley Sportsman, Tanana Valley Sportsman, Territorial Sportsman, the Alaska State Snowmachine Association, and other groups. TAPE 97-28, SIDE B SENATOR LEMAN noted they had a letter of opposition from the Environmental Lobby expressing concern about impacts from increasing helicopter activities, etc. He didn't see that as being recognized as a traditional means of access and asked if that was a valid concern. MR. GRASSER responded that the traditional means of access is predicted for traditional outdoor activities and he didn't think helicopter transportation provided a large array of traditional uses once the transportation gets you to where you are going. He didn't think the bill intended or allow for that to happen, because it ties the access to a traditional outdoor activity. MR. BISHOP testified that the Alaska Outdoor Council strongly supports HB 23. If access is limited or unavailable, the opportunities for trapping (a traditional use) are similarly limited. This insures that traditional activities, which include much more than trapping, are protected through access on State and private lands. MR. BILL PERHACH, Denali Park resident, said throughout the State, as development has intensified, the importance of professional planning and the land designation process has become more obvious. Future growth will make a case for designated use areas as well. Enacting HB 23 will make it more difficult to pursue a balance of uses; in fact, it will exacerbate conflict making it more difficult for the State to provide for common use of resources. The Alaska Environmental Lobby is opposed to CSHB 23 because it does not acknowledge the importance and value in establishing zones of quiet and areas for nonmotorized use, growing concern over impacts from ever-increasing helicopter activities, or potential impacts from motorized access to private property adjacent to State land. The majority of Alaskans and a majority of Alaska's visitors greatly value its natural landscape including the means by which we access it and this is best accomplished by maintaining a willingness to consider all viewpoints with a commitment to fairness and respect for differing interests. As an example, he said there was a squatter problem in his community. Over a period of years people, primarily summer employees from the Denali concessions, started living on State land, primarily in DOT right-of-way and the community tried to get some relief because the problem built to a point in 1992 when there were 130 -150 people living in the woods at Hornet Creek and about 40 - 50 people living in the woods at McKinley Village without no provision for sanitation or fire. Finally, when there was bear problem and one was finally killed, the State started to move which, he thought, was the first time the departments came together and closed the areas. The problem doesn't exist any more at this point and it is nice to have the process for that type of closure in place. He thought HB 23 eliminated that process. Another point, MR. PERHACH said, is that most people in his community use motorized and nonmotorized transportation on their trails and they work it out, but they don't have the level of use there is in the Park. He didn't think there was a problem in the snow machine community with having a place to ride, but it was in getting access to that place off the road system. He explained that a TRAK Board has been established made up of a combination of motorized and nonmotorized interests who work together and come up with solutions. They can also find small pots of money to fund projects and the legislature does not have time to find those federal sources of money. He wanted to see emphasis on something like TRAK rather than a divisive piece of legislation like this. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said he thought once there was private property, he didn't think they had the right to change the rules in which that private property originally got there unless the State bought it back and that's where he most strongly disagrees with his letter. MR. PERHACH responded that his intention was to call attention to the possibility that a private property owner might be affected by noise from a trail close-by or helicopter overflights. He said the bill mentions flying as if it's traditional access which fixed wing aircraft is. He was concerned that helicopters would be considered traditional access when it comes to certain operations in the Park and he would be happy to have language that excluded helicopters. Number 431 CHAIRMAN HALFORD announced an at ease from 4:45 - 4:50 p.m. MS. CAROL CARROLL, Director, Division of Support Services, said she did work with Representative Masek on this bill and agreed to not oppose the bill as it is now. It does limit some of their discretion to do some types of multiple use closures and that is something they are willing to live with. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if this bill had any retroactive affect. MS. CARROLL answered that it is prospective; however, they have not done many closures through the Division of Land. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if Representative Masek would object to including within the legislation restrictions on the same type of discretion by the Department of Fish and Game. MR. GRASSER replied that she would prefer to leave the bill intact, but HB 168 is her other bill addressing access on ADF&G closures. SENATOR GREEN moved to pass CSHB 23(RES) with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal note. There were no objections and it was so ordered.