Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

02/04/2019 03:30 PM Senate RESOURCES

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03:30:06 PM Start
03:30:55 PM Confirmation Hearing(s)
04:33:04 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: TELECONFERENCED
Commissioner, Department of Fish & Game - Doug
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
<Bill Hearing Postponed>
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 4, 2019                                                                                        
                           3:30 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Chris Birch, Chair                                                                                                      
Senator John Coghill, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator Lora Reinbold                                                                                                           
Senator Click Bishop                                                                                                            
Senator Scott Kawasaki                                                                                                          
Senator Jesse Kiehl                                                                                                             
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CONFIRMATION HEARING(S)                                                                                                         
Commissioner, Alaska Department of Fish and Game                                                                              
Douglas Vincent-Lang                                                                                                            
CONFIRMATION ADVANCED                                                                                                           
SENATE BILL NO. 22                                                                                                              
"An Act relating  to management of enhanced  stocks of shellfish;                                                               
authorizing   certain  nonprofit   organizations  to   engage  in                                                               
shellfish enhancement projects; relating  to application fees for                                                               
salmon hatchery permits; and providing for an effective date."                                                                  
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
DOUGLAS VINCENT-LANG, Commissioner Designee                                                                                     
Alaska Department of Fish and Game                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified for his confirmation hearing.                                                                   
VIRGIL UMPHENOUR, representing self                                                                                             
North Pole, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported  confirmation of ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
MIKE CRAWFORD, representing self                                                                                                
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported  confirmation of ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
SAM ROHRER, President                                                                                                           
Alaska Professional Hunters Association (APHA)                                                                                  
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported  confirmation of ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
VIC VAN BALLENBERGHE, representing self                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT: Opposed  confirmation of  ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
NANCY BALE, representing self                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:  Expressed  concerns about  confirmation  of                                                             
ADF&G Commissioner Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                               
JOHN STURGEON, representing self                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported  confirmation of ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
MARK RICHARDS, Executive Director                                                                                               
Residents Hunters of Alaska                                                                                                     
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported  confirmation of ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
ROD ARNO, Executive Director                                                                                                    
Alaska Outdoor Council                                                                                                          
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported  confirmation of ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
SYLVIA PANZARELLA, representing self                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT: Opposed  confirmation of  ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
MICHAEL HAUKEDALEN, representing self                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT: Opposed  confirmation of  ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
STACEE KLEINSMITH, representing self                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported  confirmation of ADF&G Commissioner                                                             
Designee Douglas Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                  
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:30:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CHRIS BIRCH called the  Senate Resources Standing Committee                                                             
meeting to order  at 3:30 p.m. Present at the  call to order were                                                               
Senators  Kawasaki, Giessel,  Kiehl,  Coghill, Reinbold,  Bishop,                                                               
and Chair Birch.                                                                                                                
^CONFIRMATION HEARING(S)                                                                                                        
                    CONFIRMATION HEARING(S)                                                                                 
        Commissioner, Alaska Department of Fish and Game                                                                    
3:30:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  BIRCH announced  the confirmation  hearing  of the  Alaska                                                               
Department  of  Fish  and   Game  (ADF&G)  Commissioner  Designee                                                               
Douglas Vincent-Lang. Chair  Birch read the mission  of ADF&G: To                                                               
protect, maintain, and improve the  fish, game, and aquatic plant                                                               
resources of the  state, and manage their use  and development in                                                               
the  best interest  of  the  economy and  the  well-being of  the                                                               
people  of  the  state,  consistent   with  the  sustained  yield                                                               
CHAIR  BIRCH  noted  that ADF&G's  major  program  areas  include                                                               
habitat,  commercial  fisheries,  sports  fish,  subsistence  and                                                               
wildlife conservation.                                                                                                          
3:31:48 PM                                                                                                                    
DOUGLAS  VINCENT-LANG, Commissioner  Designee, Alaska  Department                                                               
of  Fish and  Game, Juneau,  Alaska, shared  that he  grew up  in                                                               
Wisconsin.  He learned  to  fish and  hunt  with his  Grandfather                                                               
Otto. He  received his undergraduate  degree from  the University                                                               
of  Wisconsin.  In  1978  he  went  to  graduate  school  at  the                                                               
University of Alaska  Fairbanks to obtain a Master  of Science in                                                               
Biological Oceanography. He first  worked between the North Slope                                                               
and Anchorage  before getting a  job with ADF&G, where  he worked                                                               
for the next 34 years.                                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG said  he worked in  a variety                                                               
of projects and spent 20 some  years in the sports fish division.                                                               
He  worked as  a research  biologist for  marine fisheries  and a                                                               
research  and  manager  coordinator.   He  became  familiar  with                                                               
federal and international treaty processes.                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE VINCENT-LANG  said he  and another  person                                                               
developed a  funding plan  to build  hatcheries in  Anchorage and                                                               
Fairbanks using  a bond package  that did not use  general funds.                                                               
It  was paid  for using  a hatchery  surcharge on  sports fishing                                                               
licenses.  That  funding method  was  unique  across the  nation.                                                               
Those hatcheries are now producing fish.                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG  said he  spent  about  five                                                               
years  working in  the commissioner's  office on  Arctic, marine,                                                               
and the Endangered  Species Act policies. The last  three to four                                                               
years  he   was  the  Director   of  the  Division   of  Wildlife                                                               
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE VINCENT-LANG  said he  then retired.  When                                                               
the governor asked  whether he would be the  commissioner of Fish                                                               
and Game,  he took his  time to respond because  he knew it  is a                                                               
hard job. After  talking to the governor  about shared objectives                                                               
and goals, he said yes.                                                                                                         
3:36:37 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE VINCENT-LANG shared  his philosophy for the                                                               
job. The commissioner  of Fish and Game is  managing public trust                                                               
resources.  The   public  has  entrusted  him   to  manage  those                                                               
resources.  He must  have the  public's trust  to be  successful,                                                               
which means  he must talk  to people.  He will have  an open-door                                                               
policy.  Leadership  must  seek  a   lot  of  input  into  making                                                               
decisions. He  told staff that  they can hold him  accountable if                                                               
he's not asking for their  input, although he makes the decisions                                                               
based on many different factors.                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE VINCENT-LANG  said  his goals  are to  put                                                               
food on the table of Alaskans;  ensure trust by the public in the                                                               
department;  and preserve  the  state right  to  manage. That  is                                                               
critical. They fought hard as a  state to get the right to manage                                                               
their  fish  and game  resources.  They  fought hard  during  the                                                               
ANILCA [Alaska  National Interest Lands Conservation]  battles to                                                               
preserve those rights. The state is  a better manager of fish and                                                               
game  resources  than  the federal  government.  "I  think  you'd                                                               
rather be talking to me than  some bureaucrat back in D.C., 4,000                                                               
miles  away," he  said.  Finally,  he wants  to  ensure the  next                                                               
generation  of   hunters,  fishers,  anglers,  and,   of  course,                                                               
commercial (Indisc.) . . .  biologists to manage these resources.                                                               
It's  time to  get  the  next generation  out  there hunting  and                                                               
3:38:32 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE VINCENT-LANG said  some people have pointed                                                               
out  weaknesses in  his curriculum,  including his  background in                                                               
commercial fish,  but he's  been around  the Board  of Fisheries,                                                               
the   council,   the    IPHC   [International   Pacific   Halibut                                                               
Commission], and has  been involved in issues. He  has the skills                                                               
to learn commercial fisheries management.  He's been reaching out                                                               
to  the commercial  fishing sector  across the  state. As  he has                                                               
made  hires,  he  asked  them  what  they  want  in  terms  of  a                                                               
commercial fish  director and  deputy commissioner  that oversees                                                               
fisheries.  He  feels confident  about  his  abilities to  manage                                                               
commercial fisheries.                                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG  addressed  Prop  1  [Alaska                                                               
Ballot  Measure   1,  Salmon  Habitat  Protections   and  Permits                                                               
Initiative]. He  said as a  private citizen, he came  out against                                                               
Prop 1.  It is wrong to  rewrite salmon habitat regulations  by a                                                               
voter initiative,  but he  is a strong  supporter of  habitat. As                                                               
time goes  on, it is  appropriate to look at  habitat regulations                                                               
to make sure they are the  right set of regulations and rules and                                                               
update them as necessary.                                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE VINCENT-LANG said  the last weakness people                                                               
have pointed  out is  active management,  which he  does support.                                                               
The framers of  the Alaska constitution meant  for populations to                                                               
be  managed   actively,  not  passively.  They   will  do  active                                                               
management in  the Department  of Fish and  Game on  a scientific                                                               
basis for the benefit of Alaskans and the economy.                                                                              
3:40:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI  said he was going  to ask the same  question of                                                               
Mr.   Vincent-Lang   that  he   posed   to   the  Department   of                                                               
Environmental  Conservation  commissioner,  which is  whether  he                                                               
concurred  that  human  activity,  including  burning  of  fossil                                                               
fuels, agriculture,  deforestation, and industry, is  the primary                                                               
cause of climate change.                                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG responded  that he  did agree                                                               
that  climate change  is affecting  fish and  wildlife management                                                               
and  they should  be addressing  climate change,  as they  do any                                                               
other factor.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR KAWASAKI stated that the  question is whether he concurs.                                                               
His follow-up question  would be about mitigation,  but he wanted                                                               
a straight answer on that.                                                                                                      
CHAIR  BIRCH stated  that Senator  Kawasaki calling  for straight                                                               
answers was impugning the program they had going that afternoon.                                                                
SENATOR KAWASAKI said it is a  question because this is an agency                                                               
that deals with science.                                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG said  that the  Department of                                                               
Fish  and Game  is  the  only department  with  a climate  change                                                               
assessment  on  its  website.  Climate   is  affecting  fish  and                                                               
wildlife. He won't get into the  causes of climate change, but he                                                               
will pay attention to the factor  it plays in sustaining fish and                                                               
game resources.                                                                                                                 
3:42:32 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI stated that the  Chitina fishery is important to                                                               
him.  They  can tell  when  the  commercial fisheries  are  going                                                               
because there  is a dip  before the fish  migrate up to  where he                                                               
fishes.  He asked  how Commissioner  Designee Vincent-Lang  would                                                               
prioritize or allocate between  subsistence, personal use, sport,                                                               
and commercial.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG   answered  that  allocation                                                               
decisions belong  to the  Board of Fisheries,  so they  will work                                                               
with  the board.  Clearly,  subsistence is  the  priority of  all                                                               
those issues.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BISHOP  mentioned  that  he  and  Commissioner  Designee                                                               
Vincent-Lang had  had many  conversations in  the past  about cow                                                               
moose harvest. He said he  was glad to hear Commissioner Designee                                                               
Vincent-Lang say that he would  use science to make decisions and                                                               
that  he  would  talk  to  a  lot  of  people  to  make  informed                                                               
decisions. He  asked for his  opinion about using  UAVs [Unmanned                                                               
Aerial Vehicle] for pilot projects for cow moose surveys.                                                                       
3:44:21 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG answered  that when  they had                                                               
this discussion four  years ago, the state didn't  have the long-                                                               
range capacity  to use UAVs to  do aerial moose surveys,  but now                                                               
the  University  of  Alaska  Fairbanks (UAF)  may  have  a  drone                                                               
capable of flying  more than 20 or 30 minutes.  They need a drone                                                               
that will fly  100 miles, so he is very  interested in talking to                                                               
UAF about  the feasibility  of using that  drone to  count moose.                                                               
Counting  moose has  become increasingly  challenging, especially                                                               
with   delayed   winters.   They   are   looking   at   different                                                               
technologies, including infrared.                                                                                               
SENATOR  REINBOLD said  she had  had  a lot  of complaints  about                                                               
sports fishermen. She asked him if had directed any closures.                                                                   
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG  answered that  one  of  the                                                               
biggest closures  he had done  since taking the job  was Northern                                                               
Cook  Inlet. Within  the  first week  of taking  the  job he  saw                                                               
projections  for  chinook  salmon escapement  for  Northern  Cook                                                               
Inlet streams. Even  without any fishing, they  were projected to                                                               
get half the escapement they  needed for long-term sustainability                                                               
of  those runs.  They closed  sport fishing,  commercial fishing,                                                               
personal  use  fishing,   and  partially  restricted  subsistence                                                               
fishing based on  a discussion with Tyonek. He  won't hesitate to                                                               
close  fisheries  when  necessary  for  long-term  viability  and                                                               
sustainability, but they  will do it based on  talking to people.                                                               
The  biggest  criticism for  the  department  last year  was  not                                                               
giving enough notice regarding those  closures, so this year they                                                               
did  that   in  January  when   they  issued  the   forecast  and                                                               
3:46:41 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REINBOLD  asked what rivers  are impacted, what  areas of                                                               
commercial  fishing  and sports  fishing  are  affected, and  how                                                               
significant the impact  is. She also asked what  the pushback has                                                               
COMMISSIONER   DESIGNEE   VINCENT-LANG   replied   that   it   is                                                               
significant.  It  is basically  the  entire  Northern Cook  Inlet                                                               
drainages and the Little Susitna  River. It excludes the hatchery                                                               
runs going  into Eklutna  in the Anchorage  area. They  looked at                                                               
every  possibility  of  keeping  some fisheries  open.  Even  the                                                               
mortality rate  for catch-and-release  was too high.  The closure                                                               
came at a cost, but it was  the right thing to do considering the                                                               
long-term impacts.                                                                                                              
SENATOR  KIEHL said  that in  the  last round  of Pacific  Salmon                                                               
Treaty  negotiations,  they  gave  up  some  of  their  share  of                                                               
sockeyes from  the Taku River,  one of the big  sockeye producers                                                               
in  his district,  to  the  Canadians with  the  promise of  some                                                               
federal funding for  much better science, much  better counts. He                                                               
said it  is not clear to  him that that money  will come through.                                                               
He asked  Commissioner Designee  Vincent-Lang what  recourse they                                                               
have if that money does not come through.                                                                                       
3:48:28 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG  said that  other  than  the                                                               
Northern  Cook Inlet  drainages,  the Pacific  Salmon Treaty  has                                                               
caused  him to  get more  gray hair  since he  took this  job two                                                               
months ago.  The salmon treaty  was negotiated with  some chinook                                                               
and sockeye  reductions up and down  the coast. He wasn't  in the                                                               
room when the  treaty was negotiated, but  the chinook reductions                                                               
were probably somewhat justified  given the chinook levels across                                                               
the northern Gulf Coast. Sockeye  was reduced because of concerns                                                               
in  Canada  and  of  lower  48  streams.  The  whole  treaty  was                                                               
predicated on a premise of  a federally funded mitigation package                                                               
to offset some of Alaska's  losses, including increased money for                                                               
hatcheries  in Alaska.  A second  piece was  money for  Alaska to                                                               
manage  resources according  to the  stipulations of  the treaty.                                                               
And third, and  probably most importantly, money  was supposed to                                                               
be dedicated  to mitigating the  impacts to orcas  and endangered                                                               
species in  Puget Sound. For  some reason, the treaty  was signed                                                               
without the guarantee of money.                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG said if he  were a fisherman,                                                               
he would  be worried about  the money  for Puget Sound  orcas and                                                               
salmon because if the money  doesn't come forward, NMFS [National                                                               
Marine Fisheries Service] has threatened  Alaska with pulling its                                                               
incidental take  permits to prosecute all  of Alaska's fisheries.                                                               
They are working hard to  get that federal mitigation package. He                                                               
has put the U.S. commissioners of  the salmon treaty on notice of                                                               
what  will happen  in  two years  if the  state  doesn't get  the                                                               
SENATOR BISHOP asked how much money.                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG  answered from  $50  to  $60                                                               
3:51:01 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KAWASAKI said  there is  now an  expedited environmental                                                               
impact statement  for the Pebble. Commissioner  Designee Vincent-                                                               
Lang  will  have  some  say   because  he  oversees  the  Habitat                                                               
Division. He  asked how  he will protect  the state's  rights and                                                               
whether he has  enough support in the department  to complete the                                                               
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE VINCENT-LANG  answered that  he can't  say                                                               
what  he  believes  about  Pebble  because  he  is  a  permitting                                                               
authority for  it. However, anyone  giving out permits  for large                                                               
projects such  as Pebble  should be cautious.  They will  look at                                                               
Pebble the  way they would  any big  project. They looked  at the                                                               
scoping document  and asked all  divisions at Fish and  Game what                                                               
should be  examined to evaluate  impacts as part of  that scoping                                                               
process. Everything  the staff wanted  to evaluate  was forwarded                                                               
to the  Department of Natural  Resources (DNR) and  eventually to                                                               
the Army  Corps of Engineers. There  was no vetting of  the kinds                                                               
of information  staff wanted  to evaluate.  He is  confident that                                                               
because it  is an environmental  impact statement  process, ADF&G                                                               
will have more  than enough information to evaluate  its Title 16                                                               
responsibilities as they move forward.                                                                                          
SENATOR KIEHL  said the Resource Committee  had discussions about                                                               
economic opportunities  in mariculture, in  hatchery restoration.                                                               
There  was   public  comment  about   the  balance   between  the                                                               
precautionary   principle   and   mariculture.   He   asked   how                                                               
Commissioner Designee Vincent-Lang  sees the department balancing                                                               
those internal tensions between both missions for the agency.                                                                   
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG answered  clearly there  is a                                                               
lot of  ocean out there  and some opportunity for  mariculture to                                                               
occur.  He   has  made  no   formal  commitment  yet   about  the                                                               
mariculture bill before  them. They are still looking  at that in                                                               
terms  of  fiscal impact  and  a  variety  of other  things,  but                                                               
clearly, hatchery  production across the  state is adding  to the                                                               
economy. He  wouldn't want to put  it on top of  the more heavily                                                               
used parts of the state, but the state has a lot of coastline.                                                                  
3:53:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL  said he has heard  a fair amount of  concern about                                                               
how  the  board  decision  was  made about  the  location  of  an                                                               
upcoming meeting  about Cook Inlet issues.  He asked Commissioner                                                               
Designee Vincent-Lang about  the value of hearing  from folks who                                                               
are directly impacted in a variety of areas.                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG  said   he  tries  to  leave                                                               
decisions about  where board wants to  meet to the board  as long                                                               
as it doesn't cost a significant  amount of money for his agency.                                                               
There was little  cost difference, so he left it  up to them. For                                                               
this  one they  will hear  from everybody  no matter  whether the                                                               
meeting is  in Kenai, Anchorage,  or the Mat-Su Valley.  It's all                                                               
relatively close to each other.                                                                                                 
3:55:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BIRCH opened public testimony.                                                                                            
VIRGIL UMPHENOUR, representing self,  North Pole, Alaska, said he                                                               
has  known Commissioner  Designee Vincent-Lang  for 25  years. He                                                               
has worked with  him on the state Board of  Fisheries and several                                                               
other projects  as the  chairman of the  Fairbanks Fish  and Game                                                               
Advisory  Committee.  He  is  exceptionally  well  qualified.  He                                                               
demonstrates  the   leadership  principles  taught   to  military                                                               
officers.  His integrity  is beyond  reproach.  He has  extensive                                                               
knowledge about fisheries management.                                                                                           
3:58:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE CRAWFORD,  representing self, Soldotna, Alaska,  said he was                                                               
chairman of  the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and  Game Advisory Committee                                                               
and    director-at-large   for    Safari   Club    International.                                                               
Commissioner   Designee   Vincent-Lang   is   open   minded   and                                                               
understands  the  importance  of opportunity  and  food  security                                                               
issues  for  Alaskans.  He  is an  expert  on  federal  overreach                                                               
issues.  He  has  diverse qualifications.  He  has  expertise  in                                                               
fishing and hunting.  He is pro state rights  and most important,                                                               
he has common sense. He is excited to see him on board.                                                                         
4:00:15 PM                                                                                                                    
SAM  ROHRER, President,  Alaska Professional  Hunters Association                                                               
(APHA), Kodiak, Alaska, said he  is a hunting guide and president                                                               
of APHA. Their support for  Commissioner Designee Vincent-Lang is                                                               
based  on   three  considerations:  sound   wildlife  management,                                                               
commitments to building  public trust, and a desire  to see ADF&G                                                               
set  the   highest  standards  nationally.   During  Commissioner                                                               
Designee  Vincent-Lang's  tenure  as Director  of  Wildlife,  his                                                               
number  one   priority  was   wildlife  conservation   and  sound                                                               
scientific management.  He brought  science and  defensibility to                                                               
intensive management  (IM), which can be  controversial. Alaskans                                                               
who rely  on wildlife and enjoy  hunting recreationally generally                                                               
support IM. Others  do not. Everyone does agree  that the program                                                               
should be  justified by sound  science and research.  As director                                                               
of  Wildlife  Conservation,  Commissioner  Designee  Vincent-Lang                                                               
recognized the need to reform  the division's approach to IM. His                                                               
tough   reforms  as   director  of   Wildlife  demonstrated   his                                                               
commitment  to science-based  wildlife  management. Mr.  Vincent-                                                               
Lang was  a fierce advocate for  his staff and division  but also                                                               
was available  to meet with  stakeholders and work  through tough                                                               
issues.  Mr. Vincent-Lang  successfully  built  trust with  APHA.                                                               
Alaska was  granted full  authority to  manage fish  and wildlife                                                               
within its  borders when  it became  a state.  Mr. Vincent-Lang's                                                               
staunch  support  of  state   wildlife  management  authority  is                                                               
balanced  by  his  commitment  to  sound  management.  Under  his                                                               
leadership, ADF&G  will maintain  its position as  the preeminent                                                               
fish and game department in North America.                                                                                      
4:04:11 PM                                                                                                                    
VIC VAN BALLENBERGHE, representing  self, Anchorage, Alaska, said                                                               
he has  worked as a wildlife  biologist. He was appointed  to the                                                               
Board of  Game three times  by two different  governors. Governor                                                               
Dunleavy was sworn in on December  3, 2018. One of his first acts                                                               
was  to  appoint  Doug Vincent-Lang  as  acting  commissioner  of                                                               
ADF&G.  One month  later Mr.  Vincent-Lang sent  a letter  to the                                                               
U.S. Department  of the  Interior with a  41-page enclosure  of a                                                               
long list of grievances against  the department and its agencies.                                                               
Included were at least 65  specific recommendations pertaining to                                                               
fish and  wildlife management. These  were generally  intended to                                                               
appeal  federal  regulations,   amend  federal  statutes,  modify                                                               
federal policies,  and revise agency  directors' orders  in order                                                               
to  rectify   perceived  federal  overreach  of   authority.  The                                                               
recommendations would  hamper the federal agencies  from managing                                                               
fish  and wildlife  on federal  land according  to directives  in                                                               
federal  statutes.  Since  the passage  of  the  Alaska  National                                                               
Interest  Lands  Conservation  Act   (ANILCA)  in  1980,  federal                                                               
managers have  sought collaborative relationships with  the state                                                               
of Alaska.  These relationships  have eroded  in recent  years as                                                               
the  state is  taking an  increasingly aggressive  posture toward                                                               
wildlife  management  issues.  Mr. Vincent-Lang  will  accelerate                                                               
this  unfortunate  process.  The  resulting  conflicts  will  not                                                               
benefit  the   state  or  federal  government.   They  deserve  a                                                               
commissioner  who  understands  the importance  of  working  with                                                               
federal partners.  Mr. Van Ballenberghe encouraged  the committee                                                               
to read his submitted written testimony.                                                                                        
4:08:04 PM                                                                                                                    
NANCY BALE,  representing self, Anchorage, Alaska,  said that she                                                               
has lived  in Alaska since 1971.  She spent over 20  years living                                                               
in the Alaska Bush and  working in Denali National Park. Although                                                               
she  moved  to  Anchorage,  she continued  to  pay  attention  to                                                               
wildlife management  Wildlife Management  Units 20A and  20C. Mr.                                                               
Vincent-Lang is qualified based  on executive experience with the                                                               
department,  but based  on his  public statements  and management                                                               
focus, she  is concerned. She hunted  and ate moose meat.  She is                                                               
not  antihunter.  She  believes  in using  resources  to  benefit                                                               
Alaskans. She  believes the federal  presence of Denali  Park and                                                               
other federal units in Alaska is  a good thing and is undervalued                                                               
by  the legislature  and Department  of Fish  and Game.  Tourists                                                               
come from  all over to hunt  and fish on federal  and state land.                                                               
There is a  good balance, but little state celebration  of it. So                                                               
much  of  what she  sees  from  Mr. Vincent-Lang  is  antifederal                                                               
sentiment  and  accusations.  Sometimes  it is  not  accurate  or                                                               
reasonable  or  reflective  of  the  broad  public  consensus  in                                                               
Alaska.  She  disagrees  with   Mr.  Vincent-Lang  about  whether                                                               
federal  park preserves  have the  authority to  prohibit certain                                                               
hunting  practices. The  federal barriers  are not  a significant                                                               
impediment to Alaska  game managers or to her  access to hunting.                                                               
It is  important to  recognize the  role federal  land management                                                               
plays. She  hopes Mr. Vincent-Lang  and committee will  tone down                                                               
dangerous antifederal rhetoric on fish and game policy.                                                                         
4:12:33 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN STURGEON, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, shared that                                                               
he  is on  the boards  of  the Safari  Club International  Alaska                                                               
Chapter,  the  Alaska  Wild  Sheep  Foundation,  and  the  Alaska                                                               
Outdoor Council. He  has worked with Mr.  Vincent-Lang in various                                                               
capacities. Mr. Vincent-Lang is  a professional and knowledgeable                                                               
person  with  extensive  experience. The  federal  government  is                                                               
trying  to usurp  state  authority. Mr.  Vincent-Lang  will be  a                                                               
strong advocate of state rights                                                                                                 
4:14:15 PM                                                                                                                    
MARK RICHARDS,  Executive Director, Residents Hunters  of Alaska,                                                               
Fairbanks,  Alaska,  said  as   Executive  Director  of  Resident                                                               
Hunters  of  Alaska  he  represents   2,000  Alaskans  and  their                                                               
families. Mr. Vincent-Lang is unique  among past commissioners in                                                               
that he  has experience in both  fisheries and game. When  he was                                                               
director of the Wildlife Division  in the Parnell administration,                                                               
he  always  engaged  the  public on  various  issues,  some  very                                                               
controversial.  He always  sought  to bring  people together.  He                                                               
will protect Alaska's  right to manage wildlife  as Alaskans deem                                                               
best. Mr. Richards urged the committee  to read the letter to the                                                               
Department  of  the  Interior defending  the  state's  rights  to                                                               
manages  its own  fish and  game. Mr.  Vincent-Lang is  supremely                                                               
qualified for this position.                                                                                                    
4:16:58 PM                                                                                                                    
ROD  ARNO, Executive  Director, Alaska  Outdoor Council,  Palmer,                                                               
Alaska, said the  Alaska Outdoor Council has  over 10,000 members                                                               
statewide representing 47 different  outdoor clubs. He has worked                                                               
with Mr.  Vincent-Lang for  decades. He  has always  made himself                                                               
available to the public. The  council has seen Mr. Vincent-Lang's                                                               
knowledge  of dealing  with federal  legislation that  determines                                                               
the  use of  public resources  of fish  and game  on 220  million                                                               
acres  of this  state grow.  At this  juncture in  Alaska history                                                               
they are fortunate  to have a person qualified and  willing to be                                                               
commissioner and  work through issues with  federal land managers                                                               
and continue  to make Alaska a  national example, if not  a world                                                               
example, of  a publicly-run  fish and  game department  that gets                                                               
allocation decisions  from the  public. Many  of the  hunters who                                                               
buy  hunting  and  fishing licenses  trust  Mr.  Vincent-Lang  to                                                               
ensure  that those  funds will  be used  for the  ability of  all                                                               
Alaskans to participate in fish and game outdoor activities.                                                                    
4:20:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SYLVIA  PANZARELLA, representing  self,  Anchorage, Alaska,  said                                                               
she and  her husband  are not against  ethical hunting,  but from                                                               
what  she  has  read about  Commissioner  Designee  Vincent-Lang,                                                               
instead  of representing  the state,  he represents  an extremist                                                               
group, Safari Club International.   The Safari group puts notches                                                               
on their  belts from how many  animals they have killed,  not how                                                               
much meat they  have put in the freezer. Mr.  Vincent-Lang is the                                                               
treasurer  of  Alaska  chapter  of the  Safari  Club.  As  acting                                                               
commissioner, he appointed Edward  Grasser, a registered lobbyist                                                               
for the Safari  Club, as director of the  Wildlife Division. This                                                               
is  not  the  balanced  opinion that  Alaskans  need.  She  wants                                                               
someone who  represents the  state more  than a  special interest                                                               
group like the Safari Club.                                                                                                     
4:23:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  HAUKEDALEN, representing  self, Anchorage,  Alaska, said                                                               
Mr. Vincent-Lang  represents continuation  of the status  quo and                                                               
business as usual for ADF&G and  the Board of Game. He works with                                                               
individuals  in  grass  roots organizations  who  understand  and                                                               
respect  sports  hunting,  especially  subsistence  hunting.  The                                                               
department falls short of its  mission to manage shared resources                                                               
in the  best interests of the  economy and the people  of Alaska.                                                               
Two examples  discussed have been predator  control and intensive                                                               
game management. This  is, at best, questionable  science. He has                                                               
found   consistent  opposition   in  the   legislature  and   the                                                               
Department  of Fish  and Game  to listen  to anything  that comes                                                               
from  outside--peer-reviewed  scientific articles  and  opinions.                                                               
One  example of  predator  control problems  is  the Upper  Yukon                                                               
Tanana wolf  control program, which  ADF&G itself admitted  was a                                                               
failure.   Another  example   is   the   department  refusal   to                                                               
reestablish the  Denali buffer zone,  which imperils  the tourism                                                               
economy.  The  board  has  approved  a  buffer  before  and  then                                                               
rescinded the buffer, an arbitrary and capricious decision.                                                                     
4:26:46 PM                                                                                                                    
STACEE  KLEINSMITH, representing  self,  Anchorage, Alaska,  said                                                               
she  is an  active outdoor  enthusiast  and bow  hunter. She  has                                                               
served  on  boards  with  Mr.   Vincent-Lang.  He  is  an  ardent                                                               
conservationist and very approachable.                                                                                          
4:28:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  BIRCH closed  public  testimony.  He invited  Commissioner                                                               
Designee Vincent-Lang to address the committee again.                                                                           
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE VINCENT-LANG explained  that he did write a                                                               
41-page letter to the Department of  the Interior to respond to a                                                               
request from the Secretary of  the Interior Zinke. When he called                                                               
the Department of  the Interior to ask what type  of response the                                                               
department  wanted,  the answer  was  a  comprehensive list.  The                                                               
staff  had  been   working  on  the  list   during  the  previous                                                               
administration.  This  is what  the  Department  of the  Interior                                                               
wanted from them.                                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER DESIGNEE  VINCENT-LANG concluded  by saying  that he                                                               
is  excited about  serving  as commissioner.  There  are lots  of                                                               
challenges  ahead in  finding the  right balance  among different                                                               
users. He's ready for it and excited about it.                                                                                  
4:30:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  BIRCH stated  that in  accordance with  AS 39.05.080,  the                                                               
Senate Resources Committee reviewed  the following and recommends                                                               
the   appointment   be  forwarded   to   a   joint  session   for                                                               
consideration: Commissioner, Alaska Department  of Fish and Game,                                                               
Doug Vincent-Lang.                                                                                                              
CHAIR BIRCH  reminded members that signing  the reports regarding                                                               
appointments  to  boards  and  commissions  in  no  way  reflects                                                               
individual members'  approval or  disapproval of  the appointees;                                                               
the nominations are merely forwarded  to the full legislature for                                                               
confirmation or rejection.                                                                                                      
At ease                                                                                                                         
4:33:04 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Birch adjourned the Senate  Resources Standing Committee at                                                               
4:33 p.m.