Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

04/08/2010 03:30 PM Senate RESOURCES

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
03:35:00 PM Start
03:35:18 PM Overview from Conoco Philips
04:02:25 PM HB210
04:33:07 PM HJR40
04:45:27 PM HJR26
04:49:20 PM HCR10
04:58:35 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Overview from ConocoPhilips TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         HB 210-IZEMBEK STATE GAME REFUGE LAND EXCHANGE                                                                     
4:02:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  MCGUIRE   announced  consideration  of  HB   210  [CSHB
210(RES) was before the committee].                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON,  sponsor of HB  210, said this  bill deals                                                               
with  a  much  publicized  effort to  establish  a  30-mile  road                                                               
between the communities of King  Cove and Cold Bay. It authorizes                                                               
the   Department  of   Natural  Resources   (DNR)  to   make  the                                                               
transaction given that the actual  land exchange with the federal                                                               
government is  of unequal  values. Title 38  requires the  DNR to                                                               
authorize  land  transactions  of   that  nature.  Submerged  and                                                               
tidelands  are involved  as part  of the  overall transaction  as                                                               
well; so the department needs to be able to consummate that.                                                                    
With the  passage of HB 210,  he said, further work  will need to                                                               
be done at  the federal level to complete  the full authorization                                                               
for  the construction  of  the small  part of  the  road that  is                                                               
missing.  The  Department  of  Interior   would  need  to  do  an                                                               
environmental impact study (EIS) and a public interest finding.                                                                 
He explained that the proposed  route goes through about 10 miles                                                               
of some bird  migration and wilderness areas, which  will have to                                                               
be approved.  He said  the most harrowing  10 minute  flight he's                                                               
ever taken  is from  Cold Bay to  King Cove. With  the help  of a                                                               
hover craft  in the last  couple of years, transport  between the                                                               
two areas  is easier,  but it  is very expensive  and as  well as                                                               
cumbersome  to  keep  the  hover   craft  running.  For  the  750                                                               
residents at King Cove this  is about accessing the fifth largest                                                               
all-weather  runway  in  the  state   that  also  happens  to  be                                                               
straddled by both the Gulf of  Alaska and the Bering Sea. So, for                                                               
them this is a life and safety issue.                                                                                           
4:08:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MCGUIRE confirmed that she  has been contacted by people                                                               
from that area  who are concerned, and she  applauded his efforts                                                               
to deal with this problem.                                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  said he  can  understand  the health  and                                                               
safety issue, but this land  exchange is controversial because it                                                               
is  the first  time  it  has been  done  on  a national  wildlife                                                               
refuge. He asked what kind  of community outreach and involvement                                                               
process  it  had been  through,  and  was  it acceptable  to  all                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   EDGMON  answered   that  the   land  transaction                                                               
involves about  60,000 acres versus  the 206 acres  that comprise                                                               
the  very  narrow  one-lane transportation  corridor  that  would                                                               
complete  the road;  the US  Fish and  Wildlife Service  threw in                                                               
about  1,600  acres  off  of  Kodiak  Island  for  good  measure.                                                               
Converting  the National  Wildlife Refuge  into wilderness  areas                                                               
has been  going on since ANILKA  was established in 1980,  and it                                                               
has  been happening  without  any consultation  at  all with  the                                                               
community  members, fishermen,  the tribe  or the  city. So,  the                                                               
recent outreach effort has been unprecedented.                                                                                  
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI   asked  if  most  of   the  organizations,                                                               
particularly  environmental,   have  accepted  this  as   a  fair                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON replied  that  the  National Public  Lands                                                               
Bill that was passed  in March of last year took  a great deal of                                                               
effort including that of the  Alaska delegation. Certainly, there                                                               
was opposition  to it.  But many  sideboards were  enacted around                                                               
the construction of  the road - a single-lane  gravel road, steel                                                               
cables on both sides, specified  turnouts, and a road design that                                                               
has to  meet the  EIS. Further sideboards  are the  state process                                                               
and public interest finding.                                                                                                    
4:12:04 PM                                                                                                                    
STANLEY  MACK,  Mayor, Aleutian  Seas  Borough,  Alaska, said  he                                                               
lives in Sand Point, but also lived  in Cold Bay for years. He is                                                               
a  commercial fisherman  and supported  HB 210.  It is  the final                                                               
step in a  long legislative process authorizing a  trade of state                                                               
and  King Cove  Corporation  land to  the  federal government  in                                                               
exchange for approving a small  road through the Izembek National                                                               
Wildlife Refuge.                                                                                                                
The road  corridor will allow for  a one-lane gravel road  so the                                                               
residents of King  Cover will finally have a  safe and dependable                                                               
access  to  Cold  Bay  Airport. Not  all  of  the  transportation                                                               
challenges can be resolved, but  King Cove's problem is different                                                               
because it can be solved. He  couldn't express how happy he is to                                                               
think  that  this  is  going   to  happen  in  his  lifetime.  It                                                               
represents  a  successful  partnership between  state  and  local                                                               
government to achieve.                                                                                                          
4:16:25 PM                                                                                                                    
HENRY  MACK, Mayor,  King Cove,  Alaska, said  he supported  CSHB
210(RES). He said he had lived most  of his life in King Cove and                                                               
was a commercial fisherman for  40-plus years. This road has long                                                               
been  in  the  making  since  1976  when  they  first  adopted  a                                                               
resolution identifying the need.  King Cove's small plane airport                                                               
is unusable 30 to 40 percent of  the time due to high winds. This                                                               
will  resolve  the  problem  for  many  people  whose  lives  are                                                               
impacted by the lack of reliable access to the Cold Bay Airport.                                                                
4:19:56 PM                                                                                                                    
DICK  MYLIUS,  Director,  Division  of Mining,  Land  and  Water,                                                               
Department of  Natural Resources (DNR),  said under AS  38.50 his                                                               
division is  responsible for conducting land  exchanges involving                                                               
state land and  they support this legislation. It  is before them                                                               
for  two reasons.  The first  one is  that AS  38.50.020 requires                                                               
legislative  approval  of land  exchanges  for  other than  equal                                                               
appraised fair market values and  secondly, one of the provisions                                                               
of this exchange  is that certain state tide  and submerged lands                                                               
would be added to the Izembek State Game Refuge.                                                                                
He said a road  from King Cove to Cold Bay  has been talked about                                                               
for many years  and DNR's original Bristol Bay  area plan adopted                                                               
25  years ago  identified the  need for  this corridor.  Regional                                                               
transportation prepared  by the Department of  Transportation and                                                               
Public Facilities (DOTPF) has also  identified this need. Several                                                               
years  ago the  Aleutian Seas  Borough, City  of King  Cove, King                                                               
Cove  Village Corporation,  Governor's Office  and DNR  agreed to                                                               
revive  the   discussions  about   a  land  exchange   to  enable                                                               
construction  of the  road  and it  was  largely because  borough                                                               
leaders had found  that the hover craft was not  providing a safe                                                               
economical long-term  solution to  King Cove's access  needs. So,                                                               
the state, the borough, the city  and corporation met with the US                                                               
Fish and  Wildlife Service to  develop the land exchange  that is                                                               
before them now.                                                                                                                
MR.  MYLIUS  said the  parties  all  recognize that  the  biggest                                                               
hurdle for  such a  land exchange would  be securing  approval of                                                               
the  Congress,  because  it involves  federal  wilderness  refuge                                                               
lands. The exchange legislation  was introduced by Lisa Murkowski                                                               
and Representative  Young in 2007;  Governor Palin  wrote letters                                                               
in support,  the state  testified before  the House  Committee on                                                               
Natural Resources  and the land  exchange which was  originally a                                                               
separate piece of legislation was  wrapped into the Omnibus lands                                                               
bill that  was considered late  in 2008,  and passed in  2009 and                                                               
signed into law by President Obama in March.                                                                                    
In putting together  the exchange, he said it was  clear that due                                                               
to concerns  over the  unique wildlife  and wilderness  values of                                                               
the refuge that  a simple fair market value  would not adequately                                                               
address  the public's  and Congress'  concerns for  those values.                                                               
So, it was determine at the  start that the package would require                                                               
state legislative approval.  Statute already requires legislative                                                               
approval for  exchanges for  other than  an equal  appraised fair                                                               
market value.                                                                                                                   
The  existing  values  of  most  of these  parcels  of  land  are                                                               
wilderness and  wildlife values which  are difficult  to quantify                                                               
in  a  land  appraisal,  and similarly  with  health  and  safety                                                               
concerns  of the  local  residents, the  primary  reason for  the                                                               
Acreage-wise the  exchange is clearly  skewed in favor of  the US                                                               
Fish and  wildlife Service. The state  will acquire approximately                                                               
206 acres in the road corridor  and about 1,600 acres on Sitkinak                                                               
Island; US  Fish and Wildlife  Service will acquire  43,000 acres                                                               
of  state  land that  will  be  added  to the  National  Wildlife                                                               
Refuge, 2,500 acres of Native  corporation land and another 5,430                                                               
acres   of   Native   corporation   selections   that   will   be                                                               
relinquished. In  addition, the King Cove  Native Corporation has                                                               
agreed  that it  will sell  additional land  to the  US Fish  and                                                               
Wildlife Service at  fair market value should  the service desire                                                               
to purchase that land.                                                                                                          
In addition to the road corridor,  the state will acquire a 1,600                                                               
acre parcel on  Sitkinak Island which is located  south of Kodiak                                                               
Island; the remainder of that  island is already state or borough                                                               
land used  for grazing. The  1,600-acre parcel is a  former Coast                                                               
Guard facility.  The value of  the two townships the  state would                                                               
trade to  the US Fish  and Wildlife Service primary  is primarily                                                               
wildlife habitat  for fish, caribou  and brown bear.  These lands                                                               
drain the  western side of  Pavlov Volcano and have  been offered                                                               
for oil  and gas leasing in  previous state lease sales  but have                                                               
received no  bids. State geologists  say that the likely  oil and                                                               
gas resources lie further north or offshore of these parcels.                                                                   
4:24:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MYLIUS  said the  second provision  requires approval  by the                                                               
legislature for  adding 3,000 acres  of state tide  and submerged                                                               
lands in Kinzarof  Lagoon, at the head of Cold  Bay, to the state                                                               
game refuge. These lands have  resource values similar to Izembek                                                               
Lagoon including valuable eel grass  beds, which are critical for                                                               
water fowl  that migrate through or  reside in the area.  He said                                                               
the department and the governor support this legislation.                                                                       
SENATOR  FRENCH  moved to  adopt  the  proposed Senate  committee                                                               
substitute (SCS)  to CSHB 210,  labeled 26-LS0788, Version  E, as                                                               
the working document of the  committee. There being no objection,                                                               
the motion carried and SCS CSHB 210() was before the committee.                                                                 
TIM  CLARK,   staff  to  Representative  Edgmon,   explained  the                                                               
differences. He said the SCS is  comprised of three lines on page                                                               
5,  line 27,  that say:  "The construction  and operation  of the                                                               
road described in (b)(1) of  this section is authorized after the                                                               
state receives  the land described  in (b)(1) of this  section in                                                               
accordance  with PL11-11(Ombibus  Public Land  Management Act  of                                                               
The reason  for this  minor addition  was to  make it  clear that                                                               
construction and  use of the road  is allowed if the  exchange is                                                               
authorized. It is similar to  access provisions in existing state                                                               
law affecting  other state game refuges  including the Mendenhall                                                               
Wet Lands State Game Refuge and  the Goose Bay State Game Refuge.                                                               
What might not be immediately  clear is that the Izembek National                                                               
Refuge is  actually super-imposed  over a  state game  refuge, so                                                               
while the corridor  becomes state land, it  also becomes arguably                                                               
state game  refuge land. This  being similar to  other provisions                                                               
for access in  state game refuges they thought  it seemed prudent                                                               
to add it to the bill.                                                                                                          
4:28:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  CLARK said  it  is  rather complex  for  a seven-page  bill,                                                               
mainly  because this  bill answers  the three  mechanisms in  the                                                               
federal legislation that  can render the exchange  null and void:                                                               
a finding by  the Secretary of the Interior that  the exchange is                                                               
not in  the public  interest, a voluntary  rendering of  null and                                                               
void  by  the  state  or   the  Native  Corporation  made  before                                                               
construction  of the  road commenced,  and if  permitting of  the                                                               
road  was not  accomplished  within seven  years  of the  federal                                                               
act's passage. The  clock began in March 2009  when the President                                                               
signed the legislation.  The challenging structure is  if for any                                                               
reason  the exchange  is  voided,  there is  no  need to  revisit                                                               
statute to ensure  that all involved lands are  returned to their                                                               
original status. But if that is  not the case, the legislature is                                                               
saved the  trouble of having to  convene to dismantle any  of the                                                               
CO-CHAIR  MCGUIRE, finding  no  further  comments, closed  public                                                               
testimony and set the bill aside.                                                                                               
4:31:54 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease from 4:31-4:33.                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects