Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/23/1997 03:40 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                
  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           
 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.                                             

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