Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/07/1997 03:40 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                   SENATE RESOURCES COMMITTEE                                  
                         March 7, 1997                                         
                           3:40 P.M.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Senator Lyda Green, Vice Chairman                                             
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 Senator Bert Sharp                                                            
 Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                    
 Senator John Torgerson                                                        
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Rick Halford, Chairman                                                
 Senator Robin Taylor                                                          
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 2                                            
 Relating to management of Alaska's wildlife resources.                        
  - MOVED CSSCR 2(RES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                        
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SCR 2 - No previous action to consider.                                       
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Mr. Joe Ambrose, Staff                                                        
 Senator Taylor                                                                
 State Capitol Bldg.                                                           
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Read the sponsor statement for SCR 2.                  
 Mr. Neil Plested                                                              
 Alaska Environmental Lobby                                                    
 1924 Baurick Ct.                                                              
 Fairbanks, AK 99709                                                           
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed SCR 2.                                         
 Mr. Dick Bishop                                                               
 Alaska Outdoor Council                                                        
 211 4th St, #302                                                              
 Juneau, Ak 99801                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SCR 2.                                       
 Mr. Ken Taylor, Deputy Director                                               
 Division of Wildlife Conservation                                             
 Department of Fish and Game                                                   
 P.O. Box 25526                                                                
 Juneau, AK 99802-5526                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on SCR 2.                                    
 Mr. Oliver Burris                                                             
 Alaska Wildlife Conservation Association %                                    
 Tanana Valley Sportsman's Association                                         
 2801 Talkeetna                                                                
 Fairbanks, AK 99709                                                           
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SCR 2.                                       
 Mr. Noel Putman                                                               
 Ketchikan Sports and Wildlife Club                                            
 846 Brown Deer Rd.                                                            
 Ketchikan, AK 99901                                                           
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SCR 2.                                       
 Mr. Jim Ramsdell                                                              
 Environmental Action Association                                              
 P.O. Box 2004                                                                 
 Seward, AK 99664                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed SCR 2.                                         
 Mr. Michael Tetreau                                                           
 P.O. Box 3046                                                                 
 Seward, AK 99664                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed SCR 2.                                         
 Mr. Mark Luttrell                                                             
 East River Kenai Peninsula Environmental Association                          
 P.O. Box 511                                                                  
 Seward, AK 99664                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed SCR 2.                                         
 Mr. Eric Coufal                                                               
 P.O. Box 2185                                                                 
 Seward, AK 99664                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed SCR 2.                                         
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
  TAPE 97-16, SIDE A                                                           
 Number 001                                                                    
            SCR  2 MANAGEMENT OF WILDLIFE RESOURCES                           
  VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN  called the Senate Resources Committee meeting           
 to order at 3:40 p.m. and announced  SCR 2  to be up for                      
  MR. JOE AMBROSE,  Staff to Senator Taylor, sponsor of SCR 2,                 
 explained that if it were implemented the State of Alaska would go            
 a long way toward solving the subsistence dilemma by managing                 
 wildlife for abundance.  The shortage of wildlife will not be                 
 solved by determining who may have the preference regarding                   
 Article 8, Section 3 of the Constitution explicitly states wherever           
 occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife, and waters are              
 reserved for the people for common use.  Our Constitution also                
 mandates that fish and game resources be managed on a sustained               
 yield principle.  The current administration has failed to                    
 implement an intensive management program that would insure an                
 abundance of wildlife.  Attempting to manage complex wildlife                 
 populations by only addressing human use will not work.  Alaskans             
 currently harvest less than 3% of the harvestable surplus.  An                
 abundance of fish and wildlife for all Alaskans is the only                   
 practical solution to the subsistence impasse.  Present policies              
 only perpetuate shortages.                                                    
  SENATOR LEMAN  said he didn't believe there was an impasse over              
 subsistence, but over subsistence priority.  MR. AMBROSE agreed               
 that's what he meant.                                                         
 Number 78                                                                     
  MR. NEIL PLESTED , Alaska Environmental Lobby, said at first the             
 legislation looks good, but there are ambiguities which create a              
 document that they can't support.                                             
 One of the phrases that's vague is "biological basis for                      
 abundance."  He asked if the sponsor applies the term equally to              
 predator species and prey species.  He asked if there are two                 
 species competing for the same habitat, like black tail deer and              
 elk, that may be introduced, which species is given preference for            
 He also felt that it restricted management options.  Wildlife                 
 issues frequently must be examined on a case specific basis.                  
 Factors to consider are constantly changing, and new studies offer            
 fresh data to evaluation.  The formulation and coordination of                
 plans of action for management of a given population require that             
 complex decisions be made with the public forum.  To restrict                 
 biologists at ADF&G and members of the Boards of Game and Fisheries           
 to decisions based solely on the concept of biological abundance is           
 to deny the reality of the realm in which these people must                   
  SENATOR LEMAN  gave an example of moose eating trees and if they             
 were managed for abundance, their numbers would increase in the               
 urban areas as well and asked if there would be a harvest season              
 for those because of their impact on people.  MR. PLESTED replied             
 that's what he meant.  There are several things that have to be               
 considered and urban sprawl is one of them, another is clear-cut              
 logging which has a big effect on wildlife habitat.                           
 SENATOR LEMAN noted that this is a resolution which essentially is            
 a letter from the legislature stating their intent.  It may be                
 implemented by legislation or regulation.                                     
 MR. PLESTED said he didn't think they disagreed on the abundance              
 issue, at all, but the point is that the resolution suggests that             
 regulatory agencies deal only on a biological basis.                          
 Number 201                                                                    
  SENATOR LINCOLN  said she was glad he didn't take it too lightly             
 that this is just a resolution, because it is more than a letter.             
 It requests the Governor and everybody to do everything in their              
 power to manage solely on a biological basis.  She asked if by                
 saying biological use only, it meant disregarding other uses of the           
 area, like timber sales, etc. MR. PLESTED replied that that was one           
 of the difficult things to understand about it.                               
  SENATOR SHARP  said he thought a reasonable person would think               
 manage for abundance would be the opposite of managing for scarcity           
 and there are vast areas of perpetual scarcity out there in the               
 last 25 years compared to what the historical numbers in various              
 populations have been.  He said Commissioner Rue stressed the                 
 importance of continuing to spend tens of millions of dollars to              
 maintain biological scientific data so they could make management             
 decisions.  He asked if that biological data should not be the                
 driving factor.   MR. PLESTED  replied that he wasn't saying that at          
 all.  He thought data already in the files could be outdated and a            
 new study may be required and it might not be totally biological.             
 He said it is wrong to restrict agencies that have to deal with               
 these major problems.  They need a broad spectrum of methods and              
 tools to work with in order to carry out their function.                      
 SENATOR SHARP said he looked at this as setting goals for                     
 management, not as a specific directive to use certain techniques.            
 Number 324                                                                    
  MR. DICK BISHOP,  Executive Director, Alaska Outdoor Council,                
 supported SCR 2 as an important reminder that the opportunities we            
 all share in relation to wildlife uses do depend on sound,                    
 sustained yield management.  Through prudent management we can                
 contribute to the biological basis for abundant populations of                
 wildlife which will benefit all user groups.                                  
 He said it is important to remember that 60% of Alaska is in                  
 federal hands and there is no management directive to manage for              
 uses of wildlife.  It is simply a caretaker status, so there is no            
 opportunity on those lands for active management in order to meet             
 the needs of people be they hunters or viewers.  He thought that              
 only 10 - 15% of the State was available for active management                
 because of legal restrictions under federal or State law and                  
 because of ecological limitations.                                            
  SENATOR LINCOLN  asked, if managing solely on a biological basis,            
 how he would respond to those people who want to develop the                  
 Tongass, ANWR, etc.  Does that mean that development cannot take              
 place, if there is any indication that the abundance factor would             
 be in jeopardy, she asked.  MR. BISHOP replied that he didn't think           
 it meant that. For instance a development project is not inimical             
 to the well-being of wildlife and there can be management                     
 techniques that mitigate the effects, if they are anticipated.                
 Also, the term "abundance" is a relative term.                                
 Number 414                                                                    
  MR. KEN TAYLOR,  Deputy Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation,         
 said he thought most everyone on his staff and the people they                
 interact with on a daily basis would concur that managing for                 
 abundant wildlife in Alaska is the way to go.  Many of the                    
 Division's programs and those of the Commercial Fisheries are aimed           
 at doing just that.  It sounds to him as though the scope of the              
 legislation is narrowed by the phrase "solely on a biological                 
 basis."  Management of wildlife uses not just biological                      
 information, but economic impacts.                                            
 He said the Board of Fisheries and the Board of Game manage within            
 a biological framework, but they listen to public testimony                   
 balancing various public needs.                                               
 Number 435                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN thought it might work to delete "solely on a                    
 biological basis."  MR. TAYLOR said that sounded better than the              
 original bill.  MR. AMBROSE said he thought deleting "solely" would           
 solve the problem.                                                            
  SENATOR LEMAN  moved to amend lines 2 and 6 to delete "solely."              
 There were no objections and it was adopted.                                  
  MR. OLIVER BURRIS , Alaska Wildlife Conservation Association and the         
 Tanana Valley Sportsman's Association, supported SCR 2.  He said              
 ever since the Sheffield administration the major impediment to               
 progressive wildlife management has been the administration                   
 especially in response to the intensive management law.  ADF&G                
 proposes that the Nelchina caribou herd be reduced from 55,000 to             
 40,000 and the harvest reduced proportionally.  They also propose             
 to maintain the moose herd at its lowest population level since the           
 early 1950s.  This is not managing for abundance.  There is no                
 incentive within the administration to manage for abundance and no            
 planning for the future of hunting or the health and diversity of             
 our wildlife population.                                                      
  MR. NOEL PUTMAN,  Ketchikan Sports and Wildlife Club, strongly               
 supported SCR 2 and would like to see the State game statutes                 
 enforced.  He said they have one predominant game animal there -              
 Sitka black tail deer.  They have a lot of wolves that have been              
 fictitiously put into a subspecies classification by word of mouth            
 which goes against any kind of biological information that has been           
 produced on the wolves.                                                       
  MR. JIM RAMSDELL,  Environmental Action Association, said the wild           
 in the wildlife of Alaska seems to be increasingly tailored to a              
 select group of the population.  This proposal by Senator Taylor              
 would solely benefit the consumptive users, he said.  It is a                 
 minority of people who purchase hunting licenses and if we continue           
 to manage wildlife towards that minority, rather than trying to               
 understand the natural cycles which produce knee jerk reactions to            
 fluctuation in the form of wolf, brown bear, and other predator               
 control, an imbalance could come back to haunt them.                          
 Number 500                                                                    
  SENATOR SHARP  agreed that regulation of hunter harvest was part of          
 the management techniques that have always been used by the                   
 Department, but there are large areas north of the Brooks Range               
 where there has been no hunter harvest what-so-ever and the                   
 population is still declining in spite of good winters.  This is              
 only because of the 365 day-a-year harvest by predators, not the              
 human element.                                                                
  MR. MICHAEL TETREAU  testified he thought the issued looked like it          
 boiled down to an abundance versus lack of abundance management               
 philosophy which was pretty much a no-brainer.  He didn't think               
 there was anyone in the State who would disagree that we want to              
 have wildlife.  He said that Senator Taylor was focusing in on the            
 biological aspect and there was nothing biological about the                  
 predator control programs he has supported in the past.                       
 MR. TETREAU said the last sentence of the resolution mentions                 
 restoring the abundance of wildlife in Alaska and asked to what               
 levels - pre sport hunting levels, pre-European levels, or what.              
 Number 559                                                                    
  MR. MARK LUTTRELL,  Director, East River Kenai Peninsula                     
 Environmental Action Association, opposed SCR 2 because it ignores            
 the best of 100 years of advancement in the natural sciences while            
 favoring the worst of a hundred years of short-sighted ignorance.             
 The fifth "Whereas" he didn't think was logically possible.  An               
 abundance of wolves in the same place where there's an abundance of           
 caribou cannot benefit all user groups.  This legislation hurts               
 Alaska's image and makes us look silly.  It's ambiguous, much too             
 simple, and should be discarded.                                              
  MR. ERIC COUFAL  said he owned a recreational tourism business and           
 he shuddered to think of what kind of impressions we were making on           
 the rest of the country.  He mentioned the time when people were              
 boycotting our State over the wolf control issue and asked if it              
 referred to both predator and prey stocks.                                    
 Number 580                                                                    
  SENATOR LINCOLN  said she has absolutely no problem with the State           
 of Alaska having good biological data in which to make decisions.             
 She also was not pleased with our fish and game populations.                  
  NUMBER 97-16, SIDE B                                                         
 However, there is too much ambiguity within the resolution for her            
 to vote it out of committee.  As an example she didn't understand             
 the legislature requesting the Governor, the Boards of Fisheries              
 and Game, etc. to use their significant powers and influence and              
 implement regulations, policies, and programs to restore these                
 things when for years we had seen the restricted funding to the               
 Division of Habitat and there have been reductions to the ADF&G.              
 She thought they would ask what is meant by the biological basis              
 for abundance, restoring programs, or developing new programs.                
 There are too many questions.  She said she supported having                  
 scientific data for healthy growth of our fish and game, but she              
 didn't think this was the way to do it.  She thought they needed to           
 look at funding ADF&G to the point where they could manage our                
 resources for everyone who has testified today and written to them            
 over the years.                                                               
  SENATOR SHARP  said he agreed with some of her statements, but               
 disagreed that the ADF&G, now in excess of $95 million, has gone              
 down.  He thought the funding has been close to what the Governor             
 has submitted to the legislature.  He noted that the Division of              
 Habitat has nothing to do with enhancing habitat.  They are a                 
 permitting and regulation division.                                           
 Number 559                                                                    
  SENATOR LEMAN  moved to pass CSSCR 2(RES) from committee with                
 individual recommendations.   SENATOR LINCOLN  objected.   SENATORS           
 no; and the motion passed.                                                    
  VICE CHAIRMAN GREEN  adjourned the meeting at 4:35 p.m.                      

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