Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

03/12/2009 03:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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03:33:05 PM Start
03:33:53 PM SB127
03:58:12 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 127 SOUTHEAST STATE FOREST TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
    SENATE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                  
                         March 12, 2009                                                                                         
                           3:33 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Donald Olson, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Joe Thomas, Vice Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
Senator Albert Kookesh                                                                                                          
Senator Linda Menard                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 127                                                                                                             
"An Act establishing the Southeast State Forest and relating to                                                                 
the Southeast State Forest; and providing for an effective                                                                      
date."                                                                                                                          
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
BILL: SB 127                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SOUTHEAST STATE FOREST                                                                                             
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/27/09       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/27/09       (S)       CRA, RES                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DEAN BROWN, Deputy Director                                                                                                     
Division of Forestry                                                                                                            
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)                                                                                           
Anchorage AK                                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 127.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
GREG STAUNTON                                                                                                                   
Department of Natural Resources                                                                                                 
Ketchikan AK                                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed SB 127.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DICK MYLIUS, Director                                                                                                           
Division of Mining, Land, and Water                                                                                             
Anchorage AK                                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 127.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:33:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DONALD  OLSON called  the  Senate  Community and  Regional                                                             
Affairs  Standing  Committee  meeting   to  order  at  3:33  p.m.                                                               
Senators Thomas, Kookesh, French,  Menard, and Olson were present                                                               
at the call to order.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                 SB 127-SOUTHEAST STATE FOREST                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON announced the consideration of SB 127.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:33:53 PM                                                                                                                    
DEAN BROWN, Deputy Director, Division  of Forestry, Department of                                                               
Natural  Resources  (DNR), Anchorage,  said  there  are only  two                                                               
state  forests  in  Alaska.  The  small  acreage  in  SB  127  is                                                               
extremely important to the timber  industry. The DNR manages over                                                               
156,000  acres  of forest  land  in  Southeast Alaska,  and  only                                                               
49,000  of those  allow forest  management. She  worked with  the                                                               
Division  of  Mining,  Land,  and   Water  Management  and  other                                                               
entities and  narrowed down  a proposed  forest of  25,291 acres.                                                               
The proposed forest  will be excellent for dedicating  as a long-                                                               
term land base  for timber management. Dedicated  land allows the                                                               
state to  invest money with  assurance that it will  be multiple-                                                               
use land, which will include logging  over a long time. "So money                                                               
can go into  thinning, for roading; at the same  time, we've seen                                                               
in  our other  two state  forests that  it has  greatly increased                                                               
public use for hunting and fishing,  for access, and is a benefit                                                               
to local communities." The proposal  includes 20 separate parcels                                                               
in Southeast  Alaska. It includes  general use lands that  are on                                                               
Prince  of  Wales,  Tuxekan,   Kosciusko,  Heceta,  Revilla,  and                                                               
Gravina Islands, and a small parcel on the mainland.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:36:14 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BROWN  said the bill  provides long-term  forest availability                                                               
to smaller local operations, so  transportation is more economic.                                                               
It  is  not  a lot  of  land.  The  state  doesn't have  much  in                                                               
Southeast. The  Division of Forestry  has been  successful making                                                               
timber sales available to local  industry, tiding them over until                                                               
the Tongass National Forest can  get additional timber sales out.                                                               
The state has an agreement to  assist the Tongass in making those                                                               
types of timber sales more economic.  There is a strong desire to                                                               
have a  dedicated land base to  invest in. The lands  are already                                                               
designated  for forest  purposes, so  they have  been through  an                                                               
extensive public  process. The division  selected lands  that had                                                               
no conflict.  They are not  available for  settlements. Municipal                                                               
entitlements are important, so the bill addresses that directly.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:38:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BROWN  said the bill will  not affect the amount  or location                                                               
of land  that the City  and Borough  of Wrangell can  select. The                                                               
boroughs  have to  select lands  that are  vacant or  unreserved.                                                               
There are  maps available  in the  committee packet.  A dedicated                                                               
state forest  is critical for the  state to maintain a  land base                                                               
for  timber  and multiple  use,  including  mining, hunting,  and                                                               
fishing.  This would  not preclude  any existing  uses. Once  the                                                               
state forest  is designated,  there are three  years to  create a                                                               
forest  plan, so  that gives  the public  another opportunity  to                                                               
comment on  the land.  The bill shows  a long-term  commitment by                                                               
the  state to  the Southeast  region. It  will assist  the timber                                                               
industry and help plan for the long term.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:40:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MENARD asked if anyone opposes this bill.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BROWN said  she  is not  aware of  any  opposition. The  DNR                                                               
worked hard to pick lands that had no conflicts.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked  if  this  is  to  make  more  state  land                                                               
available for logging.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. BROWN said  the lands are currently available  to logging, so                                                               
the intent  is to thin the  second growth to increase  the yield,                                                               
and make the  lands more productive and increase  multiple use by                                                               
the creation of roads.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH asked why that can't be done now.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:42:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BROWN  said the current  status allows for timber  sales, but                                                               
the lands  could go  to other interests.  So putting  state money                                                               
into timber  management and  roading wouldn't  make sense.  For a                                                               
60-year rotation  it makes sense  to invest the money.  The state                                                               
and the industry will get a good return.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked how the state will increase their coffers.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BROWN  said a dedicated  state forest can increase  the yield                                                               
per acre. The value of the  timber sales will be higher. She said                                                               
the division is doing a timber inventory.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS asked who manages the remaining land on the map.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. BROWN said the maps just show the lands for a state forest.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH said 600,000 acres is Native-owned.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:44:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON asked how the division  can get to some of the sites.                                                               
"I'm assuming there's no roads out there."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. BROWN  said some areas  will have higher priority.  After the                                                               
timber  inventory,  there  may  be  land  that  lends  itself  to                                                               
thinning very  soon. There is an  optimal time for that.  Some of                                                               
the land will  go into the dedicated land base  and some probably                                                               
won't have active management for some years to come.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked what she means by "long term".                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:46:18 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BROWN said the time is  related to timber rotation, which can                                                               
be  60 years  in a  well-managed area  to over  100 years.  There                                                               
would be immediate action on some of these parcels.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON asked  if  she means  there will  be  data after  60                                                               
years.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BROWN said  she expects  some of  that information  within a                                                               
month. All inventories should be done in the next year.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:48:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON  said  there  must   be  other  landholders  besides                                                               
government and Native corporations.  He asked if other landowners                                                               
have an opinion.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. BROWN  said the  forest division has  spoken with  the Mental                                                               
Health  Trust  and  the  Division  of  Mining,  Land,  and  Water                                                               
management.  There  are  no   individual  landowners.  The  other                                                               
landowners have  felt that this  was a good opportunity  and none                                                               
have  opposed  it.  Any  action will  require  public  input  for                                                               
adjacent landowners and others.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD said she appreciates her detailed presentation.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH  said most areas  on the map have  extensive road                                                               
systems that  were put in  by the Native  corporations, including                                                               
Edna Bay,  Coffman Cove,  and Thorne  Bay. Sealaska  helped write                                                               
the Forest Practices  Act and left $1 billion of  wood because of                                                               
required buffer zones.  The bill covers a small  area, and roads,                                                               
stream buffers,  and eagle  nests will  probably cut  the logging                                                               
area  in half.  The inventory  may find  that there  is not  good                                                               
wood.  The overseas  market for  cedar is  good. This  is a  good                                                               
start and  he compliments DNR,  but it  should have been  done 10                                                               
years ago, and  all of Southeast should be a  state forest. Maybe                                                               
the rest of the land can go into a state forest later.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked if revenue from  harvesting the trees will be a                                                               
significant amount.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:51:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BROWN said  the worldwide  and Alaska  markets haven't  been                                                               
strong.  Putting  the  land  into   a  management  category  will                                                               
increase revenue but she doesn't know how much.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH said  the intent is to provide  for local demand.                                                               
There are  23 small,  mom-and-pop pulp mills  on Prince  of Wales                                                               
Island alone. There  is no major pulp mill  in Southeast anymore.                                                               
"If they could export all of  their timber, then they'd make some                                                               
money, but they  can't. This is all state forest  and it would be                                                               
only for use inside the state."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked if the small pulp mills are paying the state.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH  said they pay for  it. "A lot of  the pulp, it's                                                               
not worth  even dropping the tree  ... it's not worth  it. If you                                                               
have a lot of  pulp, you're in trouble, but we  did meet with the                                                               
guitar people  ... and  the people who  make the  Yamaha pianos."                                                               
Sitka spruce  is the  wood used  "in all  of guitar  country." It                                                               
makes the  best sounding boards. A  person would do well  by just                                                               
catering to the music industry in America.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:52:52 PM                                                                                                                    
GREG STAUNTON,  Department of Natural Resources,  Ketchikan, said                                                               
most of  the parcels on Prince  of Wales are accessible  by road.                                                               
"A  couple  off-island  parcels have  existing  road  systems  in                                                               
them." They  are "water-bound" but  they have LTFs  [log transfer                                                               
facilities]  for moving  timber. The  bill allows  DNR to  invest                                                               
time and  money into a piece  of land that can  be manipulated to                                                               
meet the market. "We are  basically encouraging a certain kind of                                                               
product, a  tree, to grow on  that land. A larger  diameter tree,                                                               
which will  be more  utilized by the  local market."  Leaving the                                                               
trees alone would  mean the stems would be smaller,  and it would                                                               
likely not  fit the local  demand. It would  be more of  a fiber-                                                               
based product instead of saw logs.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  asked if DNR  has heard  from Steve Burrell  and the                                                               
mining association.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DICK  MYLIUS,  Director, Division  of  Mining,  Land, and  Water,                                                               
Anchorage,  said he  hasn't heard  from him,  but the  lands will                                                               
still  be  open  to  mineral  development.  It  will  not  affect                                                               
existing mineral rights or the potential to stake mining claims.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked if there are any mines there.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MYLIUS said  not on  these lands.  There are  projects being                                                               
looked at on Prince of Wales Island, but not on state lands.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:56:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON asked what minerals are being looked at.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. MYLIUS said he doesn't know.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON said he  will hold the bill so he  can check with the                                                               
mining industry  to make sure they  know what is going  on. He is                                                               
surprised  that there  is no  opposition. It  sounds like  a good                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:56:59 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BROWN said  this bill has a good solid  land base that allows                                                               
the state to  support the forest industry  while allowing mining,                                                               
recreation,  hunting, and  fishing. The  division has  made every                                                               
effort to take care of any conflicts.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SB 127 was held over.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:58:12 PM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 3:58 p.m.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB127 Maps 1.pdf SCRA 3/12/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 127
SB127 Briefing.pdf SCRA 3/12/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 127
SB127 Maps 2.pdf SCRA 3/12/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 127
SB127 Maps 3.pdf SCRA 3/12/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 127
SB127 Sectional Analysis.pdf SCRA 3/12/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 127
SB127 Southeast Conference Letter.pdf SCRA 3/12/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 127
SB127 Sponsor Statement NEW.pdf SCRA 3/12/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 127
SB127 RDC Letter.pdf SCRA 3/12/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 127