Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

03/04/2020 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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05:13:06 PM Start
05:13:50 PM Presentation: the State of Alaska's Outdoor Industry: Unsung Economic Powerhouse by the Alaska Alliance
06:21:47 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to a Call of the Chair --
+ The State of Alaska's Outdoor Industry: TELECONFERENCED
Unsung Economic Powerhouse by the Alaska Outdoor
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Public Testimony --
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 4, 2020                                                                                          
                           5:13 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Peter Micciche, Chair                                                                                                   
Senator John Coghill, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Click Bishop                                                                                                            
Senator Joshua Revak                                                                                                            
Senator Jesse Kiehl                                                                                                             
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator Scott Kawasaki                                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION:  THE STATE  OF  ALASKA'S  OUTDOOR INDUSTRY:  UNSUNG                                                               
ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE BY THE ALASKA ALLIANCE                                                                                      
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 130                                                                                                             
"An Act  relating to  a seafood  product development  tax credit;                                                               
providing for  an effective  date by repealing  secs. 32  and 35,                                                               
ch. 61, SLA 2014; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 189                                                                                                             
"An  Act relating  to the  fish and  game fund;  establishing the                                                               
sport fishing  enhancement surcharge;  relating to the  repeal of                                                               
the sport fishing facility surcharge;  providing for an effective                                                               
date  by amending  the effective  date of  sec. 21,  ch. 18,  SLA                                                               
2016; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                     
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
LEE HART, Executive Director                                                                                                    
Alaska Outdoor Alliance                                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided an  overview of the  Alaska Outdoor                                                             
DON STRIKER, Superintendent                                                                                                     
Denali National Park                                                                                                            
National Park Service                                                                                                           
U.S. Department of Interior                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed the national parks in Alaska.                                                                   
MICHELE STEVENS, President                                                                                                      
Petersville Community Non-Profit                                                                                                
Petersville, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION  STATEMENT:  Provided  an  overview  of  the  Snowmobile                                                             
Trails Advisory Council (SnowTRAC) program.                                                                                     
CHRIS BECK, Board Member                                                                                                        
Alaska Trails                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Provided an  overview on the Alaska Statewide                                                             
Trails Initiative.                                                                                                              
DIANA RHOADES, Director of Community Engagement                                                                                 
Anchorage Park Foundation                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided an  overview of the  Anchorage Park                                                             
Foundation's  work with  the Municipality  of  Anchorage to  fund                                                               
parks and trails.                                                                                                               
JEN LEAHY, Alaska Field Representative                                                                                          
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership                                                                                     
Seward, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION   STATEMENT:  Provided   an  overview   on  conservation                                                             
partnership  topics related  to adequate  funding for  sportsmen,                                                               
wildlife, and recreation issues.                                                                                                
TERESA WHIPPLE, Bear Viewing Guide                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided an overview of  the commercial bear                                                             
viewing economy in Alaska.                                                                                                      
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
5:13:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  PETER  MICCICHE  called   the  Senate  Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 5:13  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were Senators  Revak, Kiehl,  Bishop,  Coghill, and  Chair                                                               
^PRESENTATION:  The State  of Alaska's  Outdoor Industry:  Unsung                                                               
Economic Powerhouse by the Alaska Alliance                                                                                      
  PRESENTATION: The State of Alaska's Outdoor Industry: Unsung                                                              
           Economic Powerhouse by the Alaska Alliance                                                                       
5:13:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MICCICHE  announced that the  only order of  business would                                                               
be a presentation by the Alaska Outdoor Alliance.                                                                               
5:14:08 PM                                                                                                                    
LEE   HART,   Executive   Director,  Alaska   Outdoor   Alliance,                                                               
Anchorage,  Alaska,  said  the   Alaska  Outdoor  Alliance  (AOA)                                                               
delegation   would   provide    updated   information   and   new                                                               
perspectives  around the  original premise  of strengthening  the                                                               
state's  economy,  stimulating  rural economic  development,  and                                                               
improving  daily life  through  outdoor recreation.  It is  AOA's                                                               
belief that outdoor recreation should be a priority.                                                                            
5:15:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  HART began  her  presentation with  the  slide, The  Numbers                                                               
Speak for Themselves, Outdoors Means  Business. She displayed the                                                               
following  outdoor  recreational  data  from  the  University  of                                                               
Alaska Center for Economic Development  (CED) and the U.S. Bureau                                                               
of Economic Analysis (BEA):                                                                                                     
   • 7th largest outdoor recreation economy                                                                                     
        o Outdoor Recreation Value Added: Percentage of State                                                                   
          GDP, 2017                                                                                                             
             1. Hawaii: 5.4                                                                                                     
             2. Montana: 5.1                                                                                                    
             3. Maine: 4.8                                                                                                      
             4. Vermont: 4.5                                                                                                    
             5. Wyoming: 4.4                                                                                                    
             6. Florida: 4.3                                                                                                    
             7. Alaska: 4.2                                                                                                     
   • Nature Tourism Growing Fast                                                                                                
        o Nature-Based Recreation                                                                                               
             square4 GDP $424 million                                                                                           
             square4 $50 million since 2012                                                                                     
        o Other Recreation                                                                                                      
             square4 GDP $269 million                                                                                           
             square4 $11 million since 2012                                                                                     
   • Outdoor recreation spending in Alaska                                                                                      
        o $3.2 billion                                                                                                          
   • Outdoor recreation growing faster than overall economy                                                                     
        o Outdoor recreation: +19 percent                                                                                       
        o State of Alaska economy: -9 percent                                                                                   
   • Outdoor Recreation versus Construction                                                                                     
        o Outdoor Recreation: $3.2 billion                                                                                      
        o Construction: $1.8 billion                                                                                            
   • Percentage of Alaskans/other Americans who participate in                                                                  
     outdoor recreation                                                                                                         
        o 81 percent/48 percent                                                                                                 
   • Visitors who engaged in at least one outdoor activity                                                                      
        o 61 percent                                                                                                            
   • Alaskans say "opportunities for outdoor activities" are a                                                                  
     reason they live here.                                                                                                     
        o 58 percent                                                                                                            
MS. HART  reported that  in March 2019,  CED released  an outdoor                                                               
industry  study that  showed  the  outdoor recreational  industry                                                               
contributes  $3.2  billion  in  spending  in  Alaska.  Eighty-one                                                               
percent of  Alaskans participate  in outdoor  recreation compared                                                               
to the national average of 48 percent.                                                                                          
She detailed  that in  2019, BEA released  data showing  that the                                                               
gross  domestic   product  (GDP)  for  the   state  from  outdoor                                                               
recreation totals  4.2 percent.  She said  that makes  Alaska the                                                               
seventh largest outdoor  recreation economy of the  U.S., but she                                                               
believes the state can do better than that.                                                                                     
MS.  HART pointed  out that  while the  state's economy  declined                                                               
between  2012-2017,  the  outdoor  recreation  sector  gained  19                                                               
percent.  The  data  shows  that  outdoor  recreation  is  a  bit                                                               
recession  proof and  the industry  can weather  various economic                                                               
5:16:52 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  HART displayed  the slide,  Impacts  by Sector  Add Up.  She                                                               
pointed out  that the  state's outdoor  recreation industry  is a                                                               
big  tent   that  represents  summer  and   winter  recreation  ;                                                               
motorized  and  nonmotorized  interests;  hunters,  anglers,  and                                                               
wildlife  watchers; makers  and sellers;  stewards and  allies in                                                               
health care and  education. AOA works to  change the conversation                                                               
and  have a  seat at  the table  to talk  about natural  resource                                                               
development in  Alaska. She  emphasized that  there is  no reason                                                               
Alaska should  not be number one  in the nation for  investing in                                                               
outdoor recreation sectors.                                                                                                     
She  said AOA  continues to  look at  opportunities for  research                                                               
data to better inform the  legislature. AOA communicates with CED                                                               
and  the Institute  of  Social and  Economic  Research (ISER)  to                                                               
establish baseline data to measure against in future years.                                                                     
MS.   HART  summarized   that  investing   in  Alaska's   outdoor                                                               
recreation sector  should be a no-brainer.  Outdoor recreation is                                                               
an economic powerhouse that has  proven capacity to deliver jobs,                                                               
attract visitors who  bring cash into the  state's businesses and                                                               
communities,  and  improve  heath and  educational  outcomes  for                                                               
5:18:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. HART  displayed a  slide showing the  variety of  key players                                                               
that  have  engaged and  partnered  with  AOA to  strengthen  the                                                               
outdoor  recreational sector.  AOA has  attracted key  players in                                                               
the tourism  industry; local, state,  and federal  land managers;                                                               
enthusiast   groups;   conservation-minded   organizations,   and                                                               
She said the  outdoor recreation industry in Alaska  is rooted in                                                               
a  passion   for  sports,  favorite   places,  and   the  gateway                                                               
communities that  are basecamps for adventure.  The industry puts                                                               
roofs  over Alaskans'  heads,  sends kids  to  school, and  keeps                                                               
manpower  dollars  in-state  to  make  communities  stronger  and                                                               
better. The  industry provides individuals  lucky enough  to work                                                               
in the sector with an excellent work-life balance.                                                                              
MS. HART  concluded her comments  saying the AOA  delegation will                                                               
share  their perspectives  on why  it  makes sense  to invest  in                                                               
outdoor recreation.                                                                                                             
5:19:44 PM                                                                                                                    
DON STRIKER, Superintendent, Denali  National Park, National Park                                                               
Service,  U.S. Department  of Interior,  Anchorage, Alaska,  said                                                               
the National  Park Service (NPS)  is big business for  Alaska. It                                                               
represents a  $2 billion  industry throughout  the state  with 15                                                               
parks and  3 million visits a  year. NPS parks represent  many of                                                               
the tourism magnets in Alaska,  particularly Glacier Bay National                                                               
Park and Preserve and Denali  National Park and Preserve with the                                                               
Denali Park Road.                                                                                                               
He noted  that there were  misleading reports recently  about the                                                               
Denali  Park Road  closure due  to wetter  summers. He  clarified                                                               
that the park would remain  open for a good experience regardless                                                               
of short-term, temporary road closures.                                                                                         
5:22:46 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. STRIKER  detailed that  his previous  park assignment  was in                                                               
West Virginia  where a bad  relationship existed between  NPS and                                                               
its neighbors. He said he tried  to fix the situation by focusing                                                               
on common  areas of  interest. The NPS  worked with  the governor                                                               
and the delegation  to develop a harnessed-walk  over the state's                                                               
876-foot-high   bridge   above   the   New   River   Gorge.   The                                                               
collaboration put the  southern area of West Virginia  on the map                                                               
and  resulted  in  the  Boy  Scouts  of  America  establishing  a                                                               
permanent jamboree site  adjacent to the gorge  with $500 million                                                               
in private investment.  He said his intent is to  help figure out                                                               
how  Alaska can  capitalize on  an effort  like the  one in  West                                                               
5:24:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. STRIKER conceded  that there has been a history  in Alaska of                                                               
the  NPS not  necessarily being  a good  neighbor in  addition to                                                               
federal   overreach   perceptions.   However,  by   focusing   on                                                               
commonality  and  actively  seeking opportunities  with  Alaska's                                                               
awesome  resources,  a  delegation   can  work  together  to  put                                                               
together an  agenda. Tools are available  through infrastructure,                                                               
transportation, and  restorative legislation. He said  the NPS is                                                               
at   the  legislature's   disposal   in   looking  actively   for                                                               
opportunities to help advance the  State's agenda and truly being                                                               
good neighbors.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR BISHOP  remarked that  he floated the  New River  and was                                                               
told it is the second oldest river in the world.                                                                                
MR. STRIKER replied  the New River probably is  the second oldest                                                               
river  in the  world. The  Appalachian Mountains  are much  older                                                               
than  the Rocky  Mountains and  the  river was  there before  the                                                               
canyon formed. It used to flow north.                                                                                           
5:27:16 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHELE  STEVENS,  President, Petersville  Community  Non-Profit,                                                               
Petersville,  Alaska,  explained  that in  1997,  the  Snowmobile                                                               
Trails Advisory Council (SnowTRAC)  program was established under                                                               
Title 41  through the Division  of Parks and  Outdoor Recreation.                                                               
Its mission is  to fairly represent all Alaskans  by advising the                                                               
division   on  snowmobile   issues  such   as  funding,   safety,                                                               
registration,   education,  access,   trail  grooming,   marking,                                                               
development,  and  maintenance.  The   program  was  intended  to                                                               
provide economic support to local communities in the winter.                                                                    
She noted that statutes authorize  the Division of Motor Vehicles                                                               
(DMV) to collect snowmobile  and off-highway vehicle registration                                                               
fees. While the  statutory language does not state  what the fees                                                               
would go  towards, the promise and  understanding since inception                                                               
has been  for DMV to transfer  all fees to the  Division of Parks                                                               
and  Outdoor Recreation.  The  division  established SnowTRAC  to                                                               
oversee  expenditures on  snowmobile  trail grooming,  education,                                                               
and safety projects.                                                                                                            
MS. STEVENS clarified  that the funding for  the SnowTRAC program                                                               
is  through a  self-imposed user  tax or  snowmobile registration                                                               
fee.  The  program  is self-sustaining  through  the  reoccurring                                                               
registration  fees collected  from  DMV. The  program is  revenue                                                               
neutral  that users  ask  for and  fund  with their  registration                                                               
dollars. Twelve percent of the  funds cover the Division of State                                                               
Parks and Outdoor Recreation administration costs.                                                                              
5:29:34 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  STEVENS explained  that when  the SnowTRAC  program started,                                                               
there  were few  marked or  maintained trails.  This resulted  in                                                               
high  accident  rates,  lost  snowmobilers,  and  conflicts  with                                                               
private  property  owners.  She  said many  years  of  surveying,                                                               
mapping,  brushing,   and  cutting  trails  has   resulted  in  a                                                               
successful SnowTRAC  program. Communities that  received SnowTRAC                                                               
funding  have  succeeded  in  achieving  all  goals  the  program                                                               
intended. People  are getting  to their  cabins safely,  they are                                                               
buying and hauling  fuel supplies, more land  is being purchased,                                                               
cabins are being built, and remote businesses are flourishing.                                                                  
She noted that  funding for the SnowTRAC program  has declined in                                                               
the   past  few   years,  primarily   because   people  are   not                                                               
reregistering   their   snow   machines.   Since   the   previous                                                               
administration,  snowmobile  clubs, businesses,  and  non-profits                                                               
have had to fight for SnowTRAC fees  to go to the program and not                                                               
the general fund.                                                                                                               
5:31:59 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. STEVENS  explained that due  to registration fees  being only                                                               
$5 and a  lack of enforcement, SnowTRAC funding  has dropped from                                                               
$250,000  to $150,000  this year.  House Bill  23 would  increase                                                               
annual registration fees to $10.                                                                                                
She pointed out that snowmobilers  spend hundreds of thousands of                                                               
dollars  in  Alaska's winter  economy  which  otherwise would  be                                                               
slow.  Winter tourism  is  on  the rise  because  of the  groomed                                                               
trails  which  provide  responsible riding,  safety,  and  winter                                                               
highways. On  average, a single  snowmobiler spends $50,000  in a                                                               
season. A 2015 study by  Earth Economics of the economic benefits                                                               
of  trails, parks,  and open  space in  the Mat-Su  Borough found                                                               
that every dollar invested in open space returned $5.31.                                                                        
MS.  STEVENS  noted  that  if   the  SnowTRAC  program  does  not                                                               
continue,  the  result  would devastate  businesses,  clubs,  and                                                               
outdoor  activities  in  Southcentral Alaska.  For  example,  the                                                               
entire Mat-Su Valley  has 16 clubs, 20 businesses,  39 lodges, 15                                                               
snowmobile dealers, 10 dog  mushing events, Iditarod, Iditasport,                                                               
24 snowmobile  events, 3  fat tire events,  and more  than 66,000                                                               
registered snowmobile owners.                                                                                                   
She summarized  that the SnowTRAC program  is a one of  a kind in                                                               
the  state and  should be  an example  to other  user groups  for                                                               
their service  needs. SnowTRAC benefits  all Alaskans  and anyone                                                               
who wants  to enjoy all that  Alaska has to offer  in the winter.                                                               
The groomed trails,  signs, and maps have  helped considerably in                                                               
keeping Alaska's search  and rescue costs to  a minimum. SnowTRAC                                                               
saves  lives,  promotes  safety,   stimulates  the  economy,  and                                                               
creates jobs.                                                                                                                   
5:34:32 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MICCICHE commented that as an  owner of a winter cabin that                                                               
was  built  more than  30  years  ago,  and well  before  groomed                                                               
trails, he knows the importance  of the SnowTRAC program. He said                                                               
the legislature must,  at least, ensure that  the program remains                                                               
funded the way it has been in the past.                                                                                         
He said he  annually pays his snowmobile renewal  because that is                                                               
what you  are supposed to  do. He  admitted that people  are less                                                               
focused on things that they are  supposed to do. He remarked that                                                               
he does not know that people  should pay double, but he will wait                                                               
and  see what  happens with  HB 23.  He remarked  that the  State                                                               
should  enforce  the  current registration  rules.  He  said  the                                                               
groups involved with  SnowTRAC do a great job and  he is glad the                                                               
legislature  returned the  funding.  He  concurred that  SnowTRAC                                                               
experienced trimmed funding in the past.                                                                                        
SENATOR  BISHOP  commented  that  he  does  not  have  a  problem                                                               
increasing the  fee because Alaska's growing  season has extended                                                               
on  both ends.  Longer  growing seasons  increases brush  removal                                                               
costs to keep the trails open.  He noted that local utilities are                                                               
having  to  outsource  or  get more  contractors  to  keep  their                                                               
rights-of-way clear.                                                                                                            
He said  the legislature  needs to  apply the  registration money                                                               
because the  user group came  forward with the  self-imposed fee.                                                               
The  program should  go away  if  the funds  do not  go to  their                                                               
intended use.                                                                                                                   
MS. STEVENS agreed with Senator Bishop.                                                                                         
5:36:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL said the snowmobile  trails have been significant                                                               
for  search and  rescue. He  asked if  there has  been snowmobile                                                               
trail  activity  on  the  northeast side  of  Fairbanks  and  the                                                               
Richardson Highway area.                                                                                                        
MS. STEVENS answered  yes, there are some  trails. However, there                                                               
has not  been a  whole lot  of interest  in the  northern region.                                                               
Groomed trails exist  in the Chena and Chatanika  areas. There is                                                               
a problem with  registration. Some people in  the northern region                                                               
have  applied for  signage and  marking grants  but there  are no                                                               
groomed trails.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  COGHILL said  trail  signage is  very  important due  to                                                               
activities  bumping  up  against   each  other  such  as  skiing,                                                               
trapping,  and snowmobiling.  He said  SnowTRAC has  done a  very                                                               
good job in  the Mat-Su Borough. He said he  did not realize that                                                               
snowmobile signage started in the Chena area.                                                                                   
5:38:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BISHOP commented  that  keeping  trails for  snowmobiles                                                               
means  less impact  in  Fairbanks on  dog  mushing trails  within                                                               
Creamer's Field.                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  remarked that there is  trail work to do  in the                                                               
Fairbanks area.                                                                                                                 
MS. STEVENS noted  that snowmobile trails in  the Petersville and                                                               
Denali  Highway area  are wide,  groomed, and  multi-use for  dog                                                               
sled teams and  everybody. However, the snowmobilers  pay for the                                                               
trail.  She detailed  the  150-mile trail  system  in the  Mat-Su                                                               
Borough area to committee members.                                                                                              
SENATOR  REVAK said  he  appreciates the  groomed  trails in  the                                                               
Willow area. They have benefitted communities and saved lives.                                                                  
MS.  STEVENS noted  that lodges  in the  area that  he referenced                                                               
would not be open in the winter without the trail system.                                                                       
5:41:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS BECK, Board Member, Alaska  Trails, Anchorage, Alaska, said                                                               
Alaska has  amazing outdoor recreation  resources, but  the State                                                               
has never  made thoughtful effort  to take full advantage  of its                                                               
resources  through  investments  in  infrastructure  and  planned                                                               
maintenance.  For example,  the  previous presentation  addressed                                                               
how to combine or split out dog mushing and snowmobiling.                                                                       
MR. BECK  said the  Alaska Statewide  Trails Initiative  tries to                                                               
address recreational  opportunities. One striking  opportunity is                                                               
to  look at  the amount  of spending  that existing  out-of-state                                                               
visitors  are  doing when  visiting  Alaska.  Visitors spend,  on                                                               
average, nine days  in Alaska. If half of the  visitors spend one                                                               
more day  in the  state, an additional  $137 million  in spending                                                               
will occur. In New Zealand,  a similar destination to Alaska, the                                                               
average stay for  visitors is 19 days. He  suggested that pushing                                                               
9 days to 11  or 12 days equates to $250  million to $500 million                                                               
in additional spending.  In many ways Alaska is  leaving money on                                                               
the table  by not making  the kind of investments  that competing                                                               
destinations  are making  in trails,  trailheads, boat  launches,                                                               
and all  of the things  that might give  people a reason  to stay                                                               
one more day.                                                                                                                   
5:43:51 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BECK  displayed  the following  slide,  Spring  2020  Trails                                                               
Investment Strategy, Fairbanks to Seward Adventure Corridor:                                                                    
   • Recommendations for Priority Trails/Access Infrastructure -                                                                
    Draft in progress Reasons for "OMD" (One More Day in AK)                                                                    
   • Fairbanks North Star Borough  Pioneering Partnerships                                                                      
        o Rosie Creek Trails/Timber Management project                                                                          
        o Equinox Marathon loop                                                                                                 
        o Other projects being identified                                                                                       
   • Denali Borough  Front-country Alternatives                                                                                 
        o Bison Creek Parking/Trailhead & Trail  Phase 2                                                                        
        o McKinley Village Bridge/Trailhead & Trail                                                                             
        o Expanded winter rec opportunities, Denali Hwy and                                                                     
          other locations                                                                                                       
   • Matanuska Susitna Borough  New/Improved Destinations                                                                       
        o South Denali Visitor Center                                                                                           
        o Kesugi-Curry hut-to-hut & trail system                                                                                
       o Traverse Trail  Skeetawk to Govt Peak Rec. Area                                                                        
        o Independence Mine                                                                                                     
        o Mat Su Visitor Center/Three- way Trails Hub                                                                           
        o Knik River Valley trail systems                                                                                       
   • Anchorage Bowl  "Destination Anchorage"                                                                                    
        o Chugach State Park  "Five Front Doors to the Alpine                                                                   
          Front-country" plus new "signature trails".                                                                           
        o "The Moose"  in town trail system                                                                                     
        o "Mountain to Sea" Trail Connector                                                                                     
   • Seward  Anchorage  AK's Most Accessible Alpine Terrain                                                                     
        o Fill key gaps the Iditarod & related trails                                                                           
        o Whistle Stop hut to hut system                                                                                        
       o "Trail towns"  Girdwood, Cooper Landing, Seward                                                                        
        o Turnagain Connector/Windy Corner  filling a critical                                                                  
          gap in existing bike/hiking trails                                                                                    
   • Not included: comparable, worthy projects in Southeast and                                                                 
     Rural Alaska                                                                                                               
MR. BECK  said the strategy is  to develop a more  systematic and                                                               
comprehensive  investment  approach.  Part  of  what  drives  the                                                               
Seward to Fairbanks  corridor strategy is that the  corridor is a                                                               
major population area in the state.                                                                                             
He noted that there most  likely will be a substantial investment                                                               
in  a  new  port  facility  in Seward.  The  Alaska  Railroad  is                                                               
partnering  with the  Alaska  Industrial  Development and  Export                                                               
Authority  (AIDEA) to  invest  $100 million  to  $150 million  in                                                               
building  a new  cruise ship  terminal that  would offer  greater                                                               
capacity.  Seward is  already receiving  400,000 visitors  coming                                                               
across  the Gulf  of Alaska  and  the new  terminal would  likely                                                               
increase traffic.                                                                                                               
He reiterated  that the  proposals might get  people to  spend an                                                               
extra  day or  two. He  clarified that  the proposals  are coming                                                               
from each  location. For example,  Alaska Trails recently  met in                                                               
Fairbanks  with the  Economic  Development Commission-North  Star                                                               
Borough, the  borough's tourism organization, trail  user groups,                                                               
and  several individual  businesses  to  come up  with  a set  of                                                               
ideas. One idea is to find  $100,000 for a working landscape, the                                                               
Tanana Valley  State Forest, and  to fix up  deteriorating timber                                                               
roads for trails.                                                                                                               
MR.  BECK noted  that  Alaska  Trails is  working  in the  Denali                                                               
Borough to expand front-country  opportunities because there is a                                                               
limit  on sending  more people  up the  Denali Park  Road. People                                                               
would like to  spend more time in the front  country if there are                                                               
things to  do like ATV  tours, horseback riding, hiking,  or just                                                               
hanging out.                                                                                                                    
5:46:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BECK  detailed  that  Alaska  Trails  is  working  with  the                                                               
Division of  Parks and  Outdoor Recreation  in the  South Denali,                                                               
Hatcher Pass  area. In Anchorage,  the organization is  trying to                                                               
get  new   front  doors   into  the   Chugach  State   Park.  The                                                               
organization is working with the  US Forest Service (USFS) at the                                                               
Chugach  National  Forest  to  fill  gaps  with  bridges  in  the                                                               
Iditarod  Trail.  The  potential  through-trail  from  Seward  to                                                               
Girdwood would be something that could be recognized worldwide.                                                                 
He conceded that  the obvious issue is  identifying where funding                                                               
would come from to build  the outdoor recreation projects. Alaska                                                               
is  increasingly  stuck  in  a   poverty  mentality  rather  than                                                               
evolving into  an investment mentality. He  said snapping fingers                                                               
will not  make investment happen,  but the absence  of investment                                                               
means the State is leaving billions of dollars on the table.                                                                    
He  pointed  out  that  funds   are  available  via  the  federal                                                               
government. However,  the State  has chosen  not to  take federal                                                               
funds. Last  year the State  did not establish  receipt authority                                                               
to access  $2 million from  the Land and Water  Conservation Fund                                                               
(LWCF). He noted that the LWCF requires a 50 percent match.                                                                     
CHAIR MICCICHE for more detail on the LWCF.                                                                                     
MR. BECK explained that the  LWCF is federal dollars derived from                                                               
offshore  oil  and gas  drilling.  The  Pittman-Robertson Act  is                                                               
another federal fund that generates  money from the sales of guns                                                               
and ammunition.  He said he did  not want to speak  in pejorative                                                               
terms about the  Alaska Department of Fish and  Game (ADF&G), but                                                               
the department returns millions of  dollars every year because it                                                               
does not  have the administrative  capacity to take  advantage of                                                               
the act.  He noted that  a resolution  passed last year  to allow                                                               
third parties to apply for those federal funds.                                                                                 
He  emphasized that  there are  federal moneys  available if  the                                                               
State were to switch to an investment mentality.                                                                                
5:48:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BECK said  Alaska Trails hopes that there will  be a national                                                               
infrastructure  bill.  Having  projects shovel-ready  allows  for                                                               
front-of-the-line     consideration    the     moment    national                                                               
infrastructure legislation passes.                                                                                              
He asked the  legislature to begin to consider  a capital budget.                                                               
In  lieu  of  a  capital   budget,  Alaska  Trails  suggests  the                                                               
legislature  look  at  general obligation  bonds.  He  said  they                                                               
require an investment mentality to borrow money into the future.                                                                
MR. BECK summarized that outdoor  recreation is growing when many                                                               
areas are not. It provides a  chance for children to have reasons                                                               
to come  back and live  in Alaska,  is good for  communities, and                                                               
allows the  State to keep the  things that are best  about Alaska                                                               
going while making money from that.                                                                                             
5:49:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MICCICHE  conceded that  the State may  have missed  out on                                                               
infrastructure  that potentially  would encourage  more activity.                                                               
He  pointed  out that  Duluth,  Minnesota  has snowmobile  trails                                                               
through the middle of the  city, whereas in Soldotna snowmobilers                                                               
have  to transport  their  machines four  miles,  which makes  no                                                               
He asked  if the Alaska  Statewide Trails Initiative  is planning                                                               
corridors throughout the state.                                                                                                 
MR. BECK replied the comparison  between Duluth and Soldotna is a                                                               
great  example of  the  kind of  thing that  the  State could  do                                                               
better. He said  a summer example is Bend, Oregon  that went from                                                               
a  dying timber  town to  a phenomenally  successful multi-season                                                               
recreation destination because the  trails come into town. Having                                                               
snowmobile trails in cities like  Talkeetna and Soldotna would be                                                               
a huge thing  to do. Alaska and its communities  are not thinking                                                               
as thoughtfully  about how  to take  advantage of  its recreation                                                               
CHAIR MICCICHE remarked  that there is an  evolution with outdoor                                                               
recreation. He  noted that people were  proud 40 or 50  years ago                                                               
to not  have the woods  in their way,  but they forgot  about the                                                               
value of having wooded corridors  next to each other. He conceded                                                               
that the gap is big, but  not dealing with outdoor recreation now                                                               
would result in eventual and permanent loss of opportunities.                                                                   
MR. BECK commented that acting now  is hard and acting later gets                                                               
5:52:04 PM                                                                                                                    
DIANA RHOADES,  Director of Community Engagement,  Anchorage Park                                                               
Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska, explained  that the Anchorage Park                                                               
Foundation (APF)  is the non-profit  partner to  the Municipality                                                               
of Anchorage  Parks and Recreation  Department. Founded  in 2004,                                                               
APF  recognized that  parks and  trails required  private funding                                                               
sources to  compliment federal, state,  and local  resources. She                                                               
said  APF has  benefitted  greatly from  appropriations from  the                                                               
legislature  over  time  to   help  develop  Anchorage's  natural                                                               
She said APF  misses the capital budget  appropriations, but they                                                               
recognized  initially the  need  to advocate  for municipal  park                                                               
bonds. They  were not supported initially  but 10 of the  last 13                                                               
park  bonds have  passed  with voters  supporting  the program  8                                                               
years in a row.                                                                                                                 
MS. RHOADES said  there are willing voters who  would support the                                                               
legislature offering  a general obligation  bond to fill  gaps in                                                               
outdoor recreation and  transportation infrastructures. She noted                                                               
that the last  general obligation bonds from the  state level was                                                               
in  2012  and  65  percent  of the  voters  supported  them.  She                                                               
suggested that  the time  might be right  for the  legislature to                                                               
consider bonds for the future.                                                                                                  
5:54:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  RHOADES  stated  that  the   other  way  APF  advocates  for                                                               
increased   infrastructure   investment    is   through   federal                                                               
transportation    dollars.   The    Fixing   America's    Surface                                                               
Transportation  (FAST)  Act  is the  current  authorization  bill                                                               
which sunsets  in September  2020. She  said now  is the  time to                                                               
advocate for more federal dollars  through two main programs: The                                                               
Recreational Trails Program (RTP),  and the Active Transportation                                                               
Program (ATP).                                                                                                                  
She  detailed that  RTP  is  federal funding  that  comes to  the                                                               
Division of Parks and Outdoor  Recreation and the division offers                                                               
the  funds as  matching grants  to local  communities. APF  is an                                                               
organizational  example  within  the  state  that  helps  provide                                                               
matching  funds  to receive  the  RTP  funds for  investments  in                                                               
She   explained  that   ATP  is   a  program   started  by   U.S.                                                               
Representative Don Young. It is  a successful program that passes                                                               
through  the  Alaska  Department  of  Transportation  and  Public                                                               
Facilities  (ADT&PF). In  Anchorage, ATP  funds pass  through the                                                               
Anchorage  Metropolitan  Area   Transportation  Solutions  (AMTS)                                                               
[Metropolitan Planning  Organization (MPO).]  The ATP  provides a                                                               
way to build important multi-use trails.                                                                                        
MS. RHOADES detailed that Anchorage  has investments in multi-use                                                               
trails  that includes  the Tony  Knowles  Coastal Trail,  Chester                                                               
Creek Trail, Ship  Creek Trail, and the Campbell  Creek Trail. An                                                               
exciting  new project  called The  Moose Loop  would connect  the                                                               
trails via a  $13 million bridge. The Moose Loop  could host huge                                                               
events and become a destination trail for Anchorage.                                                                            
She reiterated  that getting  visitors to spend  one more  day in                                                               
Alaska would leverage $137 million  to local economies. Anchorage                                                               
has  a gap  project with  the Moose  Loop, but  there are  little                                                               
projects across  Alaska that need investment.  She encouraged the                                                               
legislature  to  think  about developing  and  investing  in  the                                                               
state's outdoor recreation economy, an  act that would leverage a                                                               
lot in the long term.                                                                                                           
5:57:04 PM                                                                                                                    
JEN  LEAHY,  Alaska   Field  Representative,  Theodore  Roosevelt                                                               
Conservation Partnership (TRCP), Seward,  Alaska, stated that she                                                               
works  on behalf  of hunters  and anglers  across the  state. The                                                               
TRCP focuses  on federal  policy that  helps safeguard  access to                                                               
public land,  ensures healthy wildlife  habitat and  clean water,                                                               
and  advocates for  adequate funding  for conservation  programs.                                                               
The TRCP focuses on federal  policy benefits not just for hunters                                                               
and anglers,  but for the  entire outdoor recreation  and tourism                                                               
industries as well.                                                                                                             
She  said  by  TRCP  investing in  her  position  for  year-round                                                               
presence in Alaska, TRCP is  growing its capacity to support more                                                               
federal land  management efforts  in the  state. Wildlife  is the                                                               
heart  of  Alaska's  cultural  heritage   and  global  brand.  It                                                               
provides recreation opportunities, nourishing  food, and helps to                                                               
fuel  the  state's  economy. Both  residents  and  visitors  like                                                               
interactions with wildlife.                                                                                                     
5:58:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEAHY said ADF&G commissioned  a study several years ago that                                                               
helped determine the economic importance  of wildlife for Alaska.                                                               
She detailed the following:                                                                                                     
   • Residents and visitors spent $3.4 billion on activities                                                                    
     related to hunting and wildlife viewing, excluding fishing.                                                                
   • The spending generated a $4.1 billion economic return                                                                      
     throughout the state, which was 8 percent of the state's                                                                   
     overall output.                                                                                                            
   • The spending supported 28,000 jobs, $1.4 billion in labor                                                                  
     income, and $340 million in government revenue.                                                                            
   • Fishing, recreational personal use and subsistence sectors                                                                 
     generated $200 million in the state.                                                                                       
MS.  LEAHY  said  all  the  economic  activity  is  dependent  on                                                               
continuing  public   access  to  healthy  wildlife   habitat  and                                                               
fisheries  which is  why conservation  funding  is so  important.                                                               
Hunters  and  anglers pay  their  way  through excise  taxes  and                                                               
license  purchase,  a  user-pay-user-benefit model.  Hunters  and                                                               
anglers pay  for things like  hunter education  programs, special                                                               
projects in  refuges, wildlife  health and  disease surveillance,                                                               
and fish cleaning tables.                                                                                                       
She  concurred with  Mr. Beck  that taking  advantage of  federal                                                               
funds  to support  wildlife and  fish  restoration is  important.                                                               
Alaska receives more money through  the Pittman-Robertson Act and                                                               
the Dingell-Johnson  Sport Fish Restoration Act  for wildlife and                                                               
habitat activities than  all other state but Texas.  For ADF&G to                                                               
receive  federal  funds, the  State  needs  to contribute  a  25-                                                               
percent match  which hunters and anglers  typically cover through                                                               
hunting and license purchases.                                                                                                  
MS.  LEAHY noted  that in  2019, hunters  and anglers  spent more                                                               
than $30 million  in license fees in Alaska.  The governor vetoed                                                               
a  $300,000 allocation  as part  of the  State's match  for funds                                                               
from  the Pittman-Robertson  Act,  but the  match was  thankfully                                                               
reallocated by the legislature.                                                                                                 
MS. LEAHY  summarized that  programs supporting  healthy wildlife                                                               
and fisheries are  important to not just  sportsmen, but Alaska's                                                               
entire  outdoor  and tourism  sectors.  Hunters  and anglers  pay                                                               
their own  way and the  State should  not leave federal  money on                                                               
the table.                                                                                                                      
6:01:43 PM                                                                                                                    
TERESA  WHIPPLE,   Bear  Viewing  Guide,  Juneau,   Alaska,  said                                                               
commercial  bear  viewing  is  economically  significant  in  the                                                               
state, especially in Southcentral Alaska.                                                                                       
She  explained  that her  bear  viewing  advocacy is  a  12-month                                                               
commitment with 8 months spent as  a guide and 4 months educating                                                               
people about bears.  Black, brown, and white bears  are her life,                                                               
passion, and source of her entire annual income.                                                                                
MS. WHIPPLE said the reason  Alaska has such good commercial bear                                                               
viewing  is due  to amazing  bear habitat,  especially in  Katmai                                                               
National  Park  and  Preserve,   Lake  Clark  National  Park  and                                                               
Preserve,  Bristol  Bay,  Western  Cook Inlet,  and  the  Tongass                                                               
National Forest.  She said bears  are iconic in Alaska  and noted                                                               
that the artwork in the committee room featured bear imagery.                                                                   
She said  it's important to  remember commercial bear  viewing as                                                               
an outdoor  recreational activity when considering  the competing                                                               
uses  for  natural  resources  in good  bear  habitat  areas.  In                                                               
Southcentral  Alaska, including  Katmai, Lake  Clark, and  McNeil                                                               
River, commercial bear viewing operations  reported sales in 2017                                                               
of over  $34 million. She also  pointed out that when  polled, 70                                                               
percent of  visitors who come  to Alaska do  so with the  goal of                                                               
viewing or photographing a wild bear.                                                                                           
She  summarized  that bear  viewing  is  a growing  and  thriving                                                               
industry  that   needs  protection,  conservation,   and  habitat                                                               
6:04:04 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REVAK asked  if a typical bear viewing  customer comes to                                                               
Alaska specifically to view bears.                                                                                              
MS. WHIPPLE answered yes. Typical  bear viewing clientele combine                                                               
a  bear-specific trip  with  a  visit to  Denali  or Glacier  Bay                                                               
national parks. She  noted that in 2017,  commercial bear viewing                                                               
surpassed  sport  fishing  which  historically  had  always  been                                                               
Alaska's number-one outdoor recreation moneymaker.                                                                              
SENATOR  COGHILL  said  thank  you  for  making  commercial  bear                                                               
viewing your  business because most people  who see a bear  do so                                                               
without guides  to make their  experience safe. He noted  that he                                                               
has friends who watch the Katmai bears online.                                                                                  
MS. WHIPPLE  noted that the  bear cam  at Brooks Falls  in Katmai                                                               
National Park and Preserve has millions of online viewers.                                                                      
6:06:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MICCICHE said in his  area there are longstanding companies                                                               
that have  safely operated  bear viewing  opportunities. However,                                                               
due  to commercial  bear  viewing growth,  newcomers  are not  as                                                               
conscientious  and  have  created   conflicts  that  have  become                                                               
dangerous. He  asked if bear  viewing newcomers should  learn how                                                               
to operate responsibly to avoid conflicts.                                                                                      
MS. WHIPPLE  replied that her  company, Urus Major  LLC, provides                                                               
bear training  and consulting. She  suggested that  Alaska should                                                               
standardize bear view guiding  certification with assistance from                                                               
companies like hers.                                                                                                            
6:08:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MICCICHE remarked  that Alaska  needs  to further  develop                                                               
expectations  for wildlife  guides.  He pointed  out that  master                                                               
hunting guide certification is extensive.                                                                                       
MS.  WHIPPLE agreed  and noted  that the  bear viewing  community                                                               
views good bear habitat promotion  and protection as an important                                                               
issue to take  care before moving forward  with standardized bear                                                               
guide training.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR  MICCICHE said  standardizing bear  guide training  is good                                                               
news because some  people are worried about  individuals hiring a                                                               
bear guide who has no idea  of what safety looks like, especially                                                               
when flying into bear viewing areas.                                                                                            
MS. WHIPPLE explained  that ADF&G, USFS, NPS,  or any combination                                                               
of regulatory agencies historically  regulate bear viewing areas.                                                               
However, in bear viewing locations  without official status there                                                               
is   no   agency   taking    the   educational   and   regulatory                                                               
responsibility and  that results in wild-west  areas. Private and                                                               
non-profit   organizations  are   taking   on   the  project   of                                                               
standardizing bear training.                                                                                                    
6:10:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL said being born and  raised in Alaska, there is a                                                               
balance. The  state has gone from  a survival and wonder  mode to                                                               
an  organized approach  on  accessibility  and awareness.  People                                                               
must be aware of moose,  bear, high speed snowmobiles, and search                                                               
and rescue  to enjoy the  adventure of Alaska. Guiding  must take                                                               
all  of that  into  consideration. When  looking  at more  public                                                               
funding  for  outdoor  recreation,  awareness must  go  with  it.                                                               
Attracting  people to  Alaska for  high  value experiences  comes                                                               
with liability. He thanked Ms. Whipple for her work.                                                                            
6:14:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KIEHL asked  what constitutes  bear viewing  guiding and                                                               
where do  the guiding standards need  to be for safety.  He asked                                                               
how  bear viewing  guiding draws  distinctions  between the  Pack                                                               
Creek  Bear viewing  area versus  the Mendenhall  Glacier Visitor                                                               
MS. WHIPPLE  explained that  a bear viewing  guide at  Pack Creek                                                               
generally manages the bears around  the person whereas the [USFS]                                                               
created  protocols at  the Mendenhall  Glacier Visitor  Center to                                                               
manage the large numbers of people coming into bear habitat.                                                                    
6:17:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MICCICHE thanked  all the presenters and  admitted that the                                                               
committee barely scratched  the surface of an  outdoor economy in                                                               
the state of  Alaska. When the rest of the  state was floundering                                                               
in a self-imposed recession, tourism  fired on all revenue stream                                                               
cylinders. There are amazing things  happening all year long that                                                               
the State is not taking advantage of, he said.                                                                                  
He said the  committee supports outdoor recreation  and asked the                                                               
presenters to advance their ideas.                                                                                              
MS. HART stated  that AOA encourages the  legislature to consider                                                               
the following:                                                                                                                  
   • Balance the budget and get fiscal policies and practices                                                                   
     sustainable  to  allow  for conversations  on  how  to  make                                                               
     Alaska  shine  as  the  world   class  destination  that  it                                                               
     deserves to be renowned for.                                                                                               
   • Please tackle the ferry question. In addition to being a                                                                   
     lifeblood   for   Southeast   Alaska,  the   ferries   bring                                                               
     independent travelers  to communities  that are not  part of                                                               
     the big cruise ship industry.                                                                                              
   • Pass House Joint Resolution 25 (HJR 25) for the Denali Park                                                                
     Road, a valuable asset.                                                                                                    
   • After getting the budget under control, catch up on a $60                                                                  
     million deferred maintenance budget  in Alaska's state parks                                                               
     to  help those  assets shine  for the  economies in  gateway                                                               
   • Do not leave money on the table. The State can tap into $50                                                                
     million  in  federal  funding  with  receipt  authority  and                                                               
     matching funds.                                                                                                            
   • Support user-funded programs like SnowTRAC.                                                                                
   • Support next-level research to provide the legislature with                                                                
     the tools to make good decisions.                                                                                          
   • Expand the definition of what resource development means so                                                                
     that maximum use consistent with the public interest also                                                                  
     considers outdoor recreation in the equation.                                                                              
   • Address the issue on transportation infrastructure for                                                                     
     outdoor recreation.                                                                                                        
MS. HART summarized  that in coming sessions,  AOA will hopefully                                                               
bring  forward concepts  that remove  barriers  and obstacles  to                                                               
grow the outdoor recreation industry.  She asked the committee to                                                               
always vote for  the outdoors any time they make  a decision that                                                               
affects the outdoor recreation sector.                                                                                          
6:21:47 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Micciche adjourned the Senate Resources Standing Committee                                                                
meeting at 6:21 p.m.                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Alaska Outdoor Alliance Presentation to Senate Resources 3.04.2020.pdf SRES 3/4/2020 3:30:00 PM
Alaska Outdoor Alliance Presentation 3.04.2020