Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

04/03/2017 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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          SB  88-AK MENTAL HEALTH TRUST LAND EXCHANGE                                                                       
3:31:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL announced  consideration of SB 88,  which was first                                                               
heard on March  22. The bill is a proposed  land exchange for the                                                               
Mental  Health Trust  Land Authority  (AMHTA). She  opened public                                                               
REBECCA   KNIGHT,  representing   herself,  Petersburg,   Alaska,                                                               
opposed  SB 88  on  a  variety of  grounds  and  believed that  a                                                               
federal  buyout  of AMHTA's  proposed  land  exchange was  a  far                                                               
better alternative.                                                                                                             
SENATOR HUGHES joined the committee.                                                                                            
MS. KNIGHT asked the committee to  change the action to a federal                                                               
buyout with the lands to be  added to the Tongass National Forest                                                               
and  the proceeds  going  into the  trust.  While the  Petersburg                                                               
Borough  Assembly formerly  supported  the buyout  option if  the                                                               
federal legislation failed to pass  Congress by January 15, 2017,                                                               
Ms. Knight said this option  would satisfy the trust's mission to                                                               
improve the  lives of beneficiaries  as well as  mitigate impacts                                                               
to Petersburg and Ketchikan area  land owners while also avoiding                                                               
long-term  and  massive   landscape-level  impacts  elsewhere  if                                                               
exchange legislation is enacted.                                                                                                
As  presently  conceived,  the   bills  in  the  legislature  and                                                               
Congress would  allow continuous  clear cuts on  several thousand                                                               
acres  on  already heavily-logged  Rosella  and  Prince of  Wales                                                               
(POW) Islands.  For instance,  a total  19 square-mile  clear cut                                                               
will  result on  Rosella Island  when combined  with the  trust's                                                               
nearly  4,000-acre  existing  clear  cut  and  the  proposed  and                                                               
directly adjacent  8,000-acre exchange parcel. This  existing and                                                               
proposed  scale  of logging  is  in  the  direct flight  path  of                                                               
thousands of Ketchikan flight-seeing visitors each summer.                                                                      
A  federal buy-out  is a  reasonable  solution, because  Congress                                                               
created the  AMHTA and  endowed it with  land to  support itself,                                                               
and this would result in no  environmental harm. If SB 88 passes,                                                               
AMHTA could  finalize the action  much sooner and cost  the trust                                                               
only  about half  the  $6-million exchange  cost  for survey  and                                                               
appraisals since only about half the lands would be involved.                                                                   
Finally,  AMTHA's land  could  be  purchased for  a  few tens  of                                                               
millions of  dollars at fair market  value, which is a  sliver of                                                               
the  amount  saved  from  the  public  purse  for  mental  health                                                               
services since its inception 61 years ago.                                                                                      
3:34:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CHARLES  WOOD,  Mitkof  Highway  Homeowners  Association  (MHHA),                                                               
Petersburg, Alaska, supported SB 88. He  said the MHHA is a group                                                               
of  95 Petersburg  homeowners living  below  and commuting  along                                                               
State Highway  7, the Mitkof Highway,  which lies at the  foot of                                                               
the trust's  demonstrably steep,  unstable hillside  parcels. The                                                               
U.S. Forest  Service (USFS)  using orthophotographic  mapping has                                                               
designated  the  soils  across  most  of  the  trust  parcels  as                                                               
landslide  hazard soils  and  a majority  of  the parcels  exceed                                                               
Forest  Service  standards  pertaining  to  logging.  The  Mitkof                                                               
Highway corridor below  the trust parcels have  been analyzed and                                                               
mapped by the Division of  Forestry and the Landslide Science and                                                               
Technical Committee as a landslide hazard zone.                                                                                 
MR. WOOD said  the State Division of Forestry has  no criteria in                                                               
its  best   management  practices  specific  to   logging  steep,                                                               
unstable slopes within inhabited  landslide hazard areas. Yet, if                                                               
the trust  were to ever  log these slopes,  it would do  so under                                                               
the guidance of Alaska's Forest Resources and Practices Act.                                                                    
He said  the focus of  the MHHA over the  past 11 years  has been                                                               
entirely on public  safety; never once has  viewshed or community                                                               
backdrop, local  recreational opportunities,  wildlife corridors,                                                               
or tourism  been considered, though  each of the  issues presents                                                               
reasonable  arguments in  favor  of the  land  exchange. Nor  has                                                               
commentary  been  offered  on  the  trust  lands  next  to  other                                                               
communities  or  the  Forest  Service  lands  involved  with  the                                                               
Logging  the   slopes  above  their   homes  runs  the   risk  of                                                               
accelerated  landslide   activity,  Mr.  Wood  said.   His  group                                                               
believes  that   the  Division  of  Forestry's   best  management                                                               
practices guidelines  provide insufficient safeguards  to protect                                                               
their homes and property from  unwise timber harvest. Conversely,                                                               
he  expects that  management of  the  hillside by  the USFS  will                                                               
entail other criteria, which will  ensure that public safety will                                                               
not be impacted by logging.                                                                                                     
DAVID  LANDIS,  Mayor,   Ketchikan  Gateway  Borough,  Ketchikan,                                                               
Alaska, supported SB  88. He said the borough  has repeatedly and                                                               
consistently supported the land exchange  referenced in SB 88. It                                                               
is  a win/win/win  proposition for  Ketchikan.  It is  a win  for                                                               
their timber  industry, because it  is economically  important to                                                               
provide a  consistent supply  of timber for  those jobs  that are                                                               
directly  involved in  the  industry in  Southeast  and the  many                                                               
private businesses who are vendors to it.                                                                                       
This is  also a win  for the citizens  of Ketchikan and  the over                                                               
one-million tourists who will visit  Ketchikan this year, because                                                               
the trust lands to be  exchanged are directly behind Ketchikan on                                                               
Deer Mountain and on Gravina  Island above the airport. These are                                                               
major view  sheds and the  Deer Mountain  parcel also has  a very                                                               
popular trail used by locals  and visitors. There is virtually no                                                               
support in Ketchikan  to log these areas; the  swap would protect                                                               
these lands  and provide  other lands  more practical  for timber                                                               
In  addition,  this  is  a   win  for  the  Mental  Health  Trust                                                               
Authority, because like all communities  in Alaska, Ketchikan has                                                               
citizens  who suffer  from mental  illness, substance  abuse, and                                                               
other  disorders,  and the  AMHTA  needs  revenue to  fund  their                                                               
efforts; this land exchange will provide that revenue.                                                                          
In closing,  Mr. Landis said,  this exchange  is as close  as you                                                               
can get to a "win" for everyone involved.                                                                                       
3:38:50 PM                                                                                                                    
LARRY EDWARDS,  representing himself,  Sitka, Alaska,  opposed SB
88 and  wanted it  amended to  a federal  buy-out of  the trust's                                                               
problematic  parcels. This  would  result in  a  "triple win"  of                                                               
needed funds  for the trust, the  end of logging threats  in five                                                               
communities and  No Name  Bay, and avoidance  of high  impacts on                                                               
new  trust  lands.  Amending  the  bill  would  also  direct  the                                                               
delegation to  amend its bills  in Congress. The  committee lacks                                                               
information to  get a  hard look at  impacts in  vicinities where                                                               
the  trust would  get new  land. Trust  and Division  of Forestry                                                               
testimony looked only at supposed  benefits during these impacts.                                                               
ADF&G's  Wildlife  and  Habitat  Divisions were  not  invited  to                                                               
testify  even though  the  trust  would get  33  square miles  of                                                               
forest  for logging  in large  blocks on  two islands  that would                                                               
have high landscape-scale cumulative  impacts. Their testimony is                                                               
MR.  EDWARDS  asked them  to  review  comments from  the  Greater                                                               
Southeast  Alaska   Conservation  Community  on   why  cumulative                                                               
impacts of the  land exchange are a very  significant issue. They                                                               
underscore why  a hard look by  the state is imperative.  He said                                                               
the  Alaska Constitution  obligates  state  government to  ensure                                                               
that  resource  development  is sustainable  and  in  the  public                                                               
interest. The  Alaska Supreme Court  said this means a  hard look                                                               
at salient  problems, genuinely engaging in  reasonable decision-                                                               
making,   and   considering   all  relevant   factors   including                                                               
cumulative impacts. But, under the  Forest Practices Act there is                                                               
no   state  hard-look   at  landscape-scale   impacts.  So,   the                                                               
constitutional  hard  look  obligation   for  the  proposed  land                                                               
exchange   falls  squarely   upon  the   legislature,  and   this                                                               
committee.  A  buyout  option, besides  being  the  best  option,                                                               
avoids the constitutional  problem. The state can't  afford to do                                                               
a buy-out, but the federal government can.                                                                                      
3:41:22 PM                                                                                                                    
DENNIS WATSON, Mayor, City of  Craig, Alaska, supported SB 88. He                                                               
said he  is also  the general manager  of the  Inter-Island Ferry                                                               
Authority.  He said  what usually  gets lost  in the  rhetoric is                                                               
that  this bill  will help  pave the  way to  a more  sustainable                                                               
revenue stream  for the  AMHTA that funds  programs for  the most                                                               
vulnerable  Alaskans. This  bill and  the timber  supply it  will                                                               
facilitate for the  Prince of Wales (POW) Island and  the City of                                                               
Craig  will keep  the island's  timber industry  and its  economy                                                               
going while efforts  to lift restrictions on  federal timber sale                                                               
areas are  allowed to  bear fruit. This  timber supply  will also                                                               
keep their largest  sawmill, the Viking Lumber,  in operation. It                                                               
provides a year-round  payroll and many direct  and indirect jobs                                                               
to Prince of Wales residents.                                                                                                   
He said the  wood wanes from the mill provide  energy in the form                                                               
of  heat for  the Craig  elementary  and middle  schools and  the                                                               
municipal swimming pool.  The wood waste is  also compressed into                                                               
bio-bricks,   further   increasing   the  percentage   of   total                                                               
utilization  of each  tree  processed. In  the  end, the  logging                                                               
roads built by  the mill will allow "Mom and  Pop" mill operators                                                               
to  access smaller  timber  sales and  salvage  timber for  their                                                               
lumber  cutting operations  and to  provide high  quality product                                                               
for the music  wood industry. These roads will  also allow island                                                               
residents access  to firewood, hunting, berry  picking, and other                                                               
subsistence and recreational activities.                                                                                        
MR. WATSON said the Viking  Mill is the island's largest consumer                                                               
on  the  Prince of  Wales  Island  electrical grid.  Ceasing  its                                                               
operation  would translate  into much  larger electric  bills for                                                               
island ratepayers.                                                                                                              
OWEN  GRAHAM,  lobbyist,  Alaska Forest  Association,  Ketchikan,                                                               
Alaska, supported  SB 88. The  lands that AMHTA would  receive in                                                               
this exchange are  areas that have had some logging  in the past;                                                               
the road systems are already in  and they are not adjacent to any                                                               
big communities.  These are areas  that were planned  for logging                                                               
by the  Forest Service in the  long term without any  harm to any                                                               
fish and wildlife. It is a win for everybody.                                                                                   
MR. GRAHAM said the last  federal administration couldn't provide                                                               
enough timber  for the last  surviving mill  that will be  out of                                                               
wood in less  than one year, and the Forest  Service says it will                                                               
be at  least three before  they can provide additional  timber to                                                               
it. So, the exchange really needs to go forward.                                                                                
He said several people testified that  they would like to see the                                                               
federal government  purchase the AMHTA  land and he  opposes that                                                               
idea,  because the  federal government  already owns  and manages                                                               
close to 95 percent  of the land in the region,  most of which is                                                               
kept idle.  If they purchase  the land it won't  benefit anybody,                                                               
and the community will lose 100 jobs.                                                                                           
3:46:10 PM                                                                                                                    
BRYCE   DAHLSTROM,  Vice   President,   Transportation  and   Raw                                                               
Materials, Viking  Lumber, Klawock,  Alaska, supported SB  88. He                                                               
said lack  of federal timber  has caused  many saw mills  to shut                                                               
down and  the loss  of thousands of  full-time skilled  jobs over                                                               
the last 30  years. SB 88 will provide the  much-needed timber to                                                               
keep the existing industry alive in  the short term. It will also                                                               
provide a stable  supply into the future. Exchange  of lands held                                                               
by the trust now will  protect the backdrops of several Southeast                                                               
cities and  give the trust the  ability to manage the  lands they                                                               
MR. DAHLSTROM  said Viking Lumber  directly employs 40  people on                                                               
POW Island  where they are 60  percent of the revenue  for Alaska                                                               
Power and  Telephone. Up to  250 jobs could  be lost if  they run                                                               
out of  timber. SB 88 will  allow Viking to keep  all these hard-                                                               
working  Alaskans  with  full-time employment.  The  unemployment                                                               
rate on  POW is  13.8 percent, almost  double that  of Southeast.                                                               
The island cannot stand to  have any existing business disappear.                                                               
He  said they  need to  be looking  at ways  to grow  sustainable                                                               
economies in Southeast, which is what SB 88 will do.                                                                            
CHAIR  GIESSEL,  finding  no   further  comments,  closed  public                                                               
testimony, and announced that Andrew  Naylor Department of Law on                                                               
was line for questions. She  also remarked that the bill requires                                                               
some  technical changes  that would  put them  in alignment  with                                                               
Congressional legislation  and invited  Mr. Menefee to  tell them                                                               
about the changes.                                                                                                              
3:48:24 PM                                                                                                                    
WYN MENEFEE,  Deputy Director, Land Office,  Alaska Mental Health                                                               
Trust Authority  (AMHTA), Department of Natural  Resources (DNR),                                                               
supported SB  88. He  explained that the  U.S. Senate  Energy and                                                               
Natural  Resources Committee  removed  a 54-acre  island from  No                                                               
Name Bay  in the exchange.  In the revision  the No Name  Bay map                                                               
got a different  date. So that there is no  confusion and to stay                                                               
in sync with  the federal bill, the map in  the state legislature                                                               
would also have to be revised with a new date.                                                                                  
CHAIR GIESSEL, finding no questions,  said they were working on a                                                               
committee (CS) that would be available by tomorrow.                                                                             
SENATOR MEYER  said language on page  2, line 14, said  the AMHTA                                                               
shall pay  all costs of the  exchange and asked Mr.  Menefee what                                                               
that would be.                                                                                                                  
3:50:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR VON IMHOF joined the meeting.                                                                                           
MR.  MENEFEE replied  that  the  biggest cost  will  be from  the                                                               
survey  and appraisal  and from  reimbursing  the Forest  Service                                                               
employees who  are doing  the follow up  title work.  He expected                                                               
the survey and appraisals would  cost about $3 million instead of                                                               
initially  anticipated   $6  million,  because   the  legislation                                                               
doesn't  require  a  NEPA  analysis.  The  bill  takes  away  the                                                               
discretion  of   the  Forest  Service   by  saying   "they  shall                                                               
exchange," leaving no alternatives to consider.                                                                                 
SENATOR MEYER asked what was meant by "karst" on page 3, line 7.                                                                
MR.  MENEFEE  answered  that  "karst"  is  a  form  of  limestone                                                               
formation. The  concern was specifically  in the Phase 1  area of                                                               
Nakabi  that  has  underground anadromous  fish  streams  through                                                               
which fish  migrate to get to  the next water body.  This area is                                                               
called out specifically, because  the Alaska Forest Practices Act                                                               
typically deals with surface water  and requires a buffer next to                                                               
anadromous fish streams to protect them from logging.                                                                           
SENATOR  MEYER  said  language  on  page  3,  line  8,  says  the                                                               
Department  of  Natural Resources  may  enter  into a  cost-share                                                               
agreement to cover  the cost of road maintenance  with respect to                                                               
any reciprocal road easements in  the exchange, and asked if that                                                               
is something DNR typically does.                                                                                                
MR. MENEFEE said  this is something that is normally  done by the                                                               
department.  The  issue is  if  the  state  is  going to  use  an                                                               
easement that  is owned by  somebody else  and make money  off it                                                               
by, for  instance, having a  timber operation and  logging trucks                                                               
running down  the road, it's hard  to expect that owner  to carry                                                               
the  increased   maintenance  of  that  road.   So,  cost-sharing                                                               
agreements are common for substantial impacts an easement.                                                                      
CHAIR  GIESSEL found  no  further  questions and  held  SB 88  in                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Agenda - 4 - 3 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65 - Version A.PDF SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 65 Sponsor Statement.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 65 Sectional Analysis.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 65 Supporting Document-General Land Use 11 AAC 96.016.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 65 Supporting Document-KRPUA Statute.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporing Document MSB Support Resolution.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporting Document-ADN Article.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporting Document-DNR Petition.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporting Document-Frontiersman Editorial.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporting Document-Jonesville Action Plan.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporting Document-KRPUA Bail Schedule.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporting Document-KTUU Article.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporting Document-Map of Area.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporting Document-MSB Letter.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB65 Supporting Document-Sutton Resolution.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 88 - Support - DNR Division of Forestry.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
SB 65 Fiscal Note - DFG - SSS - 3 - 30 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 65 Fiscal Note - DNR - MLW - 3 - 30 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 65 Fiscal Note - DPS - AST - 3 - 31 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 65 Fiscal Note - DPS - AWT - 3 - 31 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 65 - Comments - Al Barrette.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 65 - Support - Dylan Buzby - 4 - 3 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 65
SB 88 - Support - Suzanne Wood - 4 - 3 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
SB 88 - Support - Revised Maps - 4 - 3 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
SB 88 - Comments - Mike Sallee - 4 - 3 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
SB 88 - Support - Charles Wood - 4 - 3 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
SB 88 - Comment - Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community - 3 - 31 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 88
SB 88 - Comments - Larry Edwards - 4 - 3 - 17.pdf SRES 4/3/2017 3:30:00 PM
SB 88