Legislature(2001 - 2002)

05/02/2002 03:47 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                                                                                                                                
           HB 165-KENAI RIVER SPECIAL MANAGEMENT AREA                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  said Senator Halford had some  concerns about                                                              
HB 165 but was  called to the Governor's office.   He announced he                                                              
would  hear  the  bill to  get  the  issues  out  and hold  it  in                                                              
committee.    He  said  Representative  Lancaster  approached  him                                                              
earlier with a proposed CS that he  would like to get on the table                                                              
for consideration.   He asked  if Representative  Lancaster wanted                                                              
to make comments to the CS.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KEN  LANCASTER  said  yes.    He  noted  that  the                                                              
proposed CS was version J.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS wanted to make sure  that the township ranges had                                                              
been thoroughly  checked because there  were mistakes made  in the                                                              
past.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LANCASTER  said   there  were  mistakes  when  the                                                              
process was  started a  couple of years  ago that were  corrected.                                                              
He said HB 165 related to adding  lands to the Kenai River Special                                                              
Management Area (KRSMA).   The CS takes out 3,543  acres along the                                                              
south side of Kenai  Lake from Snug Harbor Road up  to the dam and                                                              
the  powerhouse at  Cooper  Lake.   He  hoped  this would  address                                                              
concerns that were expressed to him.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN   THERRIAULT  asked   if  the   road  went  through   the                                                              
highlighted area on the map in the bill packet.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER  said it did.   He said this  process has                                                              
been going  on for at least two  years.  As mayor of  Soldotna, he                                                              
sat on the board  that held public hearings about  the addition of                                                              
these lands.  He  noted they were all state lands  and there would                                                              
be no acquisition  or purchasing of  new lands.  HB 165  would put                                                              
the lands into  the Department of Natural Resources  (DNR) so that                                                              
the lands  could be managed  by DNR.   The plan was  adopted after                                                              
committee  meetings   and  public  hearings  over   two  years  in                                                              
Anchorage and  on the Kenai  Peninsula.   He said DNR  adopted the                                                              
language portion of the plan in December  1997.  The lands must be                                                              
transferred by the Legislature.   This was what HB 165 attempts to                                                              
do.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS asked how many acres were in the transfer.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER said about 4,200 acres.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS asked if that was reduced from 7,900.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER  said yes.  He  noted that HB 165  had no                                                              
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT   asked  if   moving  the  lands   into  this                                                              
designation added restrictions on the use of the land.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER  said DNR had  a process to  allow public                                                              
access or use of the lands.  The  other departments that currently                                                              
control this  land did  not.  He  believes HB  165 would  give the                                                              
public a process to be able to access the lands.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked if the lands were in  the general state                                                              
domain in DNR.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JIM   STRATTON,  Director,   Division  of  Parks   &  Outdoor                                                              
Recreation, Department  of Natural Resources, said  the lands were                                                              
currently in  general state lands  and managed by the  Division of                                                              
Parks & Outdoor  Recreation for outdoor recreation  purposes.  The                                                              
addition of  these lands would  allow DNR to improve  recreational                                                              
access to the lands.  He said there  were a couple of projects DNR                                                              
was interested  in but  they weren't able  to sign the  obligation                                                              
that  they  would manage  the  lands  and facilities  for  outdoor                                                              
recreation  access  in  perpetuity  because  the  lands  were  not                                                              
designated  to Parks  & Outdoor Recreation.    He said when  those                                                              
lands were designated, they would  be able to do that and begin to                                                              
develop some projects such as improved boat launch ramps.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if there  was any organized group in the                                                              
area that opposed HB 165.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. STRATTON said he was not aware of any.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER  said he was  not aware of any.   He said                                                              
Senator Torgerson  had some  concerns, but he  hoped the  CS would                                                              
clear those concerns up.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked if the  CS had been brought  to Senator                                                              
Torgerson's attention.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER said a copy had been given to his aide.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. STRATTON said DNR supported HB 165 with the proposed CS.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT pointed  at the  map in the  bill packet  and                                                              
asked if the  highlighted area was the acreage the  CS dropped out                                                              
of the plan.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER & MR. STRATTON said that was correct.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT pointed at the  un-highlighted area of the map                                                              
and asked if that was the acreage that was being added.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LANCASTER said there  was more acreage than the map                                                              
showed.   In addition to that  acreage, there was also  acreage in                                                              
the Moose Pass area and on the upper part of the Kenai River.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if there  was anybody present to testify                                                              
regarding HB 165.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. TED  WELLMAN, President of the  KRMSA Advisory Board,  said he                                                              
had  served  on the  Board  since  1995  and was  instrumental  in                                                              
developing the plan that resulted  in HB 165.  He said he was also                                                              
vice-president  of the Kenai  River Property Owners'  Association.                                                              
He said  he was  a 55-year  resident of  Alaska and  had used  the                                                              
Kenai River all his life and had  owned property there for over 20                                                              
years.  He  supported HB 165.   The land additions  were developed                                                              
through  the public hearing  process with  meetings in  Anchorage,                                                              
Soldotna, Cooper Landing  and Moose Pass.  He said  the lands were                                                              
selected  close to the  Kenai River  so the  entire watershed  and                                                              
habitat  would be  protected.   He  said he  is not  aware of  any                                                              
opposition.   He  said  a number  of organizations  supported  the                                                              
addition  of these  lands, including  the  Cook Inlet  Agriculture                                                              
Association,  the  Cooper  Landing   Community  Club,  Alaska  Fly                                                              
Fishing,  Alaska Wildland  Adventures, the  City of Soldotna,  the                                                              
Kenai Peninsula  Borough, the  Friends of  Cooper Landing  and the                                                              
Kenai River Property Owners' Association.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRAIULT asked  if there  were any  questions for  Mr.                                                              
Wellman.  There were none.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. SAM MCDOWELL  said he has lived in Alaska since  1948.  He has                                                              
been involved  in resource  management issues  for over  50 years.                                                              
He said if  we don't support HB  165, we would never  have a river                                                              
like  the Kenai  again.   He said  habitat is  the most  important                                                              
thing, followed by resources and  then users, because if you don't                                                              
protect the  habitation, there  won't be  any resources  and there                                                              
won't be anything for the users.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT asked  if there  were any  questions for  Mr.                                                              
McDowell.  There were none.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. DALE  BONDURANT said he owns  property along 2000 feet  of the                                                              
Kenai  River, which  he  has put  in  a conservation  easement  to                                                              
protect forever.   He said the Kenai is one of  the most important                                                              
resources in  the country and we need  to protect it.   He said he                                                              
fully supports  HB 165.   He said he  believes in access  as well.                                                              
In 1997, he filed  a federal suit to make sure  that we had access                                                              
to all of the rivers in the country.   He said it's very important                                                              
that we continue  with this type of thing.  He  said he would like                                                              
to see the acreage that was removed in the CS protected as well.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT asked  if there  were any  questions for  Mr.                                                              
Bondurant.  There were none.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DON  RAMSEY said he  was a  35-year resident  of Alaska.   He                                                              
said he used the Kenai River to catch  fish for his family for the                                                              
winter.  He said he owned 430 feet  of frontage on the Kenai River                                                              
that he  has taken  very good care  of.  He  said he  supports the                                                              
acquisition  of the lands  to protect  the river  because it  is a                                                              
great  resource and  enjoyed  by residents  and  visitors and  has                                                              
great commercial value.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  noted that the  Future Management  section on                                                              
page  2 of  the  background information  provided  by KRMSA  said,                                                              
"Facility  development  for most  of  the new  land  would not  be                                                              
consistent with  KRMSA's intent."  He  said he had been  trying to                                                              
express  his concern  over  this in  his  previous question  about                                                              
development.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
He asked  if there was  anybody else who  wished to testify  on HB
165.  There was nobody.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB 165 was held in committee.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                

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