Legislature(1999 - 2000)
02/03/1999 03:05 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE RESOURCES COMMITTEE February 3, 1999 3:05 P.M. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Rick Halford, Chairman Senator Robin Taylor, Vice Chairman Senator Pete Kelly Senator Jerry Mackie Senator Lyda Green Senator Sean Parnell Senator Georgianna Lincoln MEMBERS ABSENT All Members Present COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 7 "An Act relating to the University of Alaska and university land, and authorizing the University of Alaska to select additional state land." -MOVED OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5 Opposing the closure of the former Mount McKinley portions of Denali National Park and Preserve to snowmachine use. -MOVED OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 2 Relating to management of Alaska's wildlife and fish resources. -SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 7 - See Resources Committee minutes dated 1-25-99 and 2-1-99. SJR 5 - No previous action to record. SCR 2 - No previous action to record. WITNESS REGISTER Ms. Mel Krogseng, Staff Senator Taylor State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Staff to sponsor of SB 7. Mr. Jerry Luckhaupt, Attorney Legislative Legal Counsel 130 Seward, Ste 409 Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 7. Mr. Ross Coen, UAF Student Staff Member, Northern Alaska Environmental Center 218 Driveway St. Fairbanks, AK 99701 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 7. Ms. Jane Angvik, Staff Assistant/Special Projects Department of Natural Resources 3601 C Street Anchorage, AK 99503-5921 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 7. Ms. Wendy Redman, Vice President University Statewide System University of Alaska Fairbanks Wood Center Fairbanks, AK 99775-6640 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 7. Mr. Brett Huber, Staff Senate Resources Committee State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SJR 5. Mr. Stan Leaphart, Executive Director Citizens Advisory Commission on Federal Areas Department of Natural Resources 3700 Airport Way Fairbanks, AK 99709-4699 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 5. Ms. Tina Cunning ANILCA Program Coordinator Department of Fish and Game 333 Raspberry Rd. Anchorage, AK 99802-5526 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SJR 5. Mr. Kevin Hite, Vice President Alaska State Snowmobile Association 8050 Summerset Dr. Anchorage, AK 99518 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 5. Mr. Joe Gauna Anchorage Snowmobile Club 7421 Silver Birch Dr. Anchorage, AK 99502 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 5. Mr. Mike Eastham Snomads Club P.O. Box 3646 Homer, AK 99603 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 5. Mr. Bill Eastham, President Mat-Su Motormushers HC 03, BX 8286 Palmer, AK 99645 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 5. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 99-7, SIDE A Number 001 SB 7-INCREASE LAND GRANT TO UNIV. OF ALASKA CHAIRMAN HALFORD called the Senate Resources Committee meeting to order at 3:05 p.m. and announced SB 7 to be up for consideration. MS. MEL KROGSENG, staff to Senator Taylor, sponsor of SB 7, noted the proposed committee substitute was LS0072\H, Luckhaupt, 2/3/99. She explained that this bill would give to the University of Alaska 250,000 acres of state land to help fulfill the idea of a land grant college. She passed around maps and little dots which represented just a little more than the proposed acreage. She noted that some of the changes proposed by the Division of Lands have been incorporated into the bill. SENATOR TAYLOR moved to adopt the committee substitute to SB 7. There were no objections and it was so ordered. MR. LUCKHAUPT, Legislative Counsel, explained that section 5 on page 4 is new and deals with how the land is selected. He explained that the legislature has to approve the list of selections during the next regular session or it automatically goes into effect. The provisions about what land cannot be selected by the University have not changed - those that are subject to an existing mineral or oil and gas lease, permit, prospective sight, or any of those things cannot be selected. After the date of selection by the University, before the University would actually receive patent title to the lands, the State can still issue mining and oil and gas leases (mineral extraction) and the revenue from those leases goes to the State until the University actually receives title. In prior years there was an inconsistency with how those revenues were to be treated - specifically with regards to leases that were entered into after the date of selection and before the University received conveyance of the lands. Originally, there were to be no leases issued after a selection to resolve the issue of who the revenue went to. That was felt to unduly bind both interests in getting these lands into production. These changes are in 365 (a) and (d). Another section regarding oil and gas that's different provides that the University doesn't receive any oil and gas revenues for five years after the effective date of this act. The University could select lands that are subject to other leases and sales; for example, timber sales. The State would continue to get the revenues because they are the ones who issued the lease and were managing the land. SENATOR TAYLOR congratulated Mr. Luckhaupt on doing a good job of rewriting the bill and correcting a lot of problems that were in the previous legislation. He said the format flows and makes some sense. It also complies with a lot of requests they have received from the Department of Natural Resources. Number 200 SENATOR PARNELL asked what other kinds of leases could the land be subject to and the University still be able to select it. MS. KROGSENG suggested grazing leases. MR. LUCKHAUPT suggested recreational sights, non-profits, easements, and rights-of-way. He didn't think the University would want to select lands that were subject to encumbrances like those, however. On page 10, line 6 the bill deals with encumbrances. During the term of the lease the University doesn't get management of the land. MS. KROGSENG explained that the new draft tries to be more consistent with general principals of land management. MR. LUCKHAUPT explained that he tried to come up with a process where the revenues went with whomever was managing the land. Number 350 MR. ROSS COEN, student at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, opposed SB 7. As a student he recognizes the importance of adequate funding for the University, but he is vehemently opposed to this short-sighted funding plan and backhanded assault on the environment. The University is not a land management agency and should not be placed in the position of harvesting natural resources simply in order to survive. It excludes the public from participating in the process and might irrevocably harm the environment. He used the Yakutaga clear cut as an example. This bill will close or restrict access to 250,000 acres for hunting, fishing, skiing, etc. The University requires more funding; however, he supports it coming from the appropriations process, not short-sighted land give-aways. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked how long he was a resident of the Fairbanks area. MR. COEN answered for approximately three years and he was a resident of Alaska for two years before becoming a student. MS. JANE ANGVIK, Department of Natural Resources, said she appreciated the efforts to address some of their concerns; however the administration is still opposed to this legislation and believes that the University must be able to acquire income. She has been advised that Senator Murkowski and Secretary Babbit have had some communication with respect to the Governor's proposal for a portion of the federal receipts from the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA)to be provided to the University of Alaska. So there may be hope on the federal front. She said they hadn't had time to go through the committee substitute, but would provide them with a revised fiscal note. MS. WENDY REDMAN, Vice President for the University Statewide System, said she appreciated Mr. Luckhaupt's work on this bill over the years. She wanted to correct and clarify in response to some comments that the University didn't use local hire in its Yakutaga timber sale. In fact, all of the University's land contracts require local hire. They also provide, at their own expense, local training for people within the community if they want to be hired by the project. She said the destruction by the timber harvest at Cape Yakutaga was absolutely incorrect and continuing with that kind of misinformation doesn't help at all. She emphasized that the University has not ever been charged with any kind of environmental destruction. SENATOR TAYLOR compared the amount of acreage to the McNeil River Bear Refuge which has a little over 200,000 acres. He thought our children should have at least the same amount of land as the bears have. He said that comments that the revenues derived from lands would not be supplemented are completely false. This legislature has always supported the University and will continue to do so, but they want the University to have the land grant basis that it was supposed to have had at inception. He added, but for a couple of small changes that happened at statehood, our University would have had a million acres. Instead, the State acquired it with the assumption that we would do something with that acreage to support the University. Instead we are supporting the general fund. Frankly, SENATOR TAYLOR said, he would like to eliminate the entire selection process and do it much like the federal government did, which is to say every 16 and 32nd section within a township went to education. That's how most of the western states acquired their education lands which they manage to help support their school systems. He said Texas now has such valuable lands in education that they are not only paying for all their university costs, but they are paying a portion of the k through 12 costs, also. Whether Senator Murkowski is successful or not in his efforts to get the additional 500,000 acres out of the federal domain, this bill would grant the University the right to select 250,000 acres. The two bills are compatible and he has worked with Senator Murkowski's staff on his bill which will be submitted soon. However, the bills are not dependent on each other. SENATOR TAYLOR moved to pass CSSB 7 with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SJR 5-SNOWMACHINE USE IN DENALI NAT'L PARK CHAIRMAN HALFORD announced SJR 5 to be up for consideration. Number 470 MR. BRETT HUBER, Senate Resources Committee Aide, said SJR 5 is designed to send a clear message to the Department of Interior, the National Park Service, and our congressional delegation that the Alaska State Legislature opposes the closure of Denali National Park and Preserve to snowmachine access outside of the process set forward by law. An equally important message carried by this resolution is a message to Alaskans that the Legislature is in support of their continued use of their public lands. MR. STAN LEAPHART, Executive Director, Citizens Advisory Commission on Federal Areas, supported SJR 5. As a brief background, he explained that Mt. McKinley National Park was created in 1917 and sometime in the mid-to-early 1970's the Park was closed to snowmachine use. However, in 1980 ANILCA expanded the Park from its former 2 million acres to over 6 million acres opening the Park and all the other parks that were created to snowmachine use (as well as to the use of motor boats, airplanes, and other non- motorized surface transportation methods for traditional activities). The Act, itself, does not define "traditional activities." In June 1981, the National Park Service adopted its first set of permanent regulations to implement ANILCA making it very clear that the section on snowmachine use applied to all park units in Alaska, including the pre-1980 park areas. That was confirmed when in 1983 the Park Service proposed to close some portions of Denali National Park to snowmachine use. They weren't proposing as comprehensive a closure as they are today and it was to protect key wildlife concentration areas. MR. LEAPHART explained that at the time it was clear that the Agency recognized that ANILCA had opened the Park to snowmachine use. Those regulations were never finalized. In 1986, the Department of Interior adopted regulations implementing Title 11 of ANILCA and the section we're concerned with today is the section 11.10(a). The Park Service in 1981 had adopted regulations implementing that section in 1981. The 1986 Department of Interior regulations replaced them. Comments from the public suggest that the authorization to use snowmachines did not apply to the pre-1980 parks and monuments. Department of Interior responded that it was their determination that their interpretation that there was no exception for the pre-ANILCA areas. In 1990, they saw the first written evidence of closing the Park to snowmachines in the superintendent's compendium for Denali National Park. This is a tool used by the Park Service to list areas that may be closed to camping, boating, or any number of things. His Commission was most interested in the part that closed the Park to snowmachiners. MR. LEAPHART said there were other compendiums for other parks and they tried to get the Park Service to clean up some of the procedural flaws and have had very little movement other than the standardization of the form that they use to write the compendia. One of the major points they raised with the Park Service was their failure to follow the process that's outlined in ANILCA which involves making findings and determinations that use of snowmachines in that particular park area would be detrimental to park resources before they could actually do a closure. Alaskan park units and wildlife refuges are open to these sorts of activities unless they are specifically closed through regulatory action. This is very different from the lower-48 units where these kinds of activity are prohibited unless they are authorized through regulatory actions. Even though they brought this to the attention of the Park Service whose own attorneys advised them that they would not prosecute any citations, the Park Service continued to discourage public use by posting signs along the highway, putting fliers on windshield and by contacts with park rangers. In early 1997, the Park superintendent and head ranger formally discussed shutting down snowmachine use. They held that the ANILCA authorizations did not apply to the old part of the Park, that snowmachine use was not traditional and could not, therefore, be allowed and they were making no provision to do studies or findings to support the closure. This is about the time that snowmachine groups started getting involved. In November 1998, the Park Service announced they were going to temporarily close the old Park to snowmachine use while they considered additional permanent closures for the entire Park. What took him most by surprise was their efforts to justify the proposal with no finding of resource damage and no documentation of impacts - none of the procedural requirements outlined in ANILCA. It was based on a collection of misinformation and half-truths. MR. LEAPHART said he had spoken this morning with Congressman Young's staff for the Resources Committee and they were provided a draft press release by the National Park Service stating that the closures would be effective tomorrow and they had made a finding which he found was a compilation of studies that were done in other park areas. The findings were based on the potential for impacts rather than actual impacts for Denali National Park. MS. TINA CUNNING, ANILCA Program Coordinator, explained that in the final rules of management of park units passed in June 17, 1981 it states "perfected snowmachine users should note that the legislative history of Section 11.10(a) defines a traditional activity in terms of its generally occurring in a park area prior to its designation." It goes on to cite both the House and Senate Committee reports that adopt that definition. An activity that is generally occurring in the area includes perhaps hunting, fishing, and trapping which is of foremost interest to her agency, but also wildlife viewing and some general recreation. It was an essential part of the compromise agreement under ANILCA that the traditional lifestyle and activities of Alaskan residents be protected in exchange for the establishment of TAPE 99-7, SIDE B Number 590 104 million acres of conservation system units in addition to the already existing conservation system units in Alaska which were redesignated and expanded under ANILCA. Therefore, these definitions apply to all units. They went through a grueling process with all the interior agencies and the Forest Service towards the adoption of the access regulations to implement Title 11 of ANILCA between 1982 and the final rules in 1986. The Alaska Land Use Council, the work groups representing all the State agencies, the native corporations, AFN, and the federal agencies went through what was intended in all the pieces of ANILCA relating to access. When they adopted the final rule making in September 4, 1986 in the preamble the Department of Interior says, "Other comments suggest that the provisions of this section should not apply to parks and monuments which predated ANILCA." The argument is made that Congress did not intend to open the pre-ANILCA area to the uses described in Section 11.10(a) since these pre-ANILCA areas had been closed to such uses prior to the enactment of ANILCA. Interior does not find any statutory support for this position since Section 11.10(a) provides no exceptions to the pre-ANILCA areas. Accordingly, no exception for pre-ANILCA areas is provided for in these regulations. The regulations, then, go on in Section 13.30 to describe the very specific closure process including a finding of detriment to resources, and a closure period. A temporary closure cannot exceed 12 months. Anything beyond that is a permanent closure. If there is a permanent closure, there must be a formal process and a finding made to reopen it. It's going to be very important to watch the language in the rule being published tomorrow. It states, "...a temporary closure of one to three years." So there is already a problem. Number 558 The important thing for ADF&G is the continuation of access for hunting, fishing, and trapping activities. Many millions of acres in Alaska were expanded, designated, or reestablished as conservation system use under ANILCA that would come under the process the Park Service developed here. There would be problems with other units trying to follow suit. MS. CUNNING explained there was a similar situation in a Kodiak Refuge where the Fish and Wildlife Service manager was interested in closing snowmachine use. In that case, with much encouragement, he was able to work with the local snowmachine group to come up with an agreement of where they would and would not travel so as not to impact denning bears. They are continuing to have their snowmachine activities without detriment to the resources in that area. A precedent of making a finding that an activity is traditional or not or that there is resource damage without having had studies could set a precedent for Kodiak, Kenai, the Alaska Peninsula, the Yukon Delta Refuge, and other parks and refuges across the State. SENATOR TAYLOR asked other than our passage of this resolution, what other action might the legislature take to cause the federal government to abide by the laws they, themselves, made. MS. CUNNING said she couldn't advise on that, but she knows that some snowmachine groups have been in communication regarding filing litigation. Because of the impacts she foresees coming down the line for many Alaskan residents we would want to engage in conversation with the administration policy makers to consider the possibility of joining that. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the administration is contemplating litigation to defend the rights of snowmachiners. MR. KEVIN HITE, Vice President, Alaska State Snowmobile Association, responded that he had sent two letters to the administration requesting input and help on the issue as they see it and to join their lawsuit which seems inevitable. They haven't had any response so far. MR. HITE said his Association supports the resolution 100 percent. MR. JOE GAUNA, Anchorage Snowmobile Club, said he works with Mr. Hite on this issue. He said they have never had one response from the National Park Service. The Ccurry Ridge Riders from "up North" asked him to send their support for the resolution as did the owner of Ardor Art Recreation Distributors. SENATOR TAYLOR said he is sincere in asking his question. The legislature is standing "begging" a federal official who doesn't choose to listen to us anyhow to please do what the law says. Surely there must be some other alternative and if litigation is the only way to go, we should be supporting these people. If the administration doesn't do it, we should fund it through legislative council. Number 476 SENATOR LINCOLN asked Mr. Leaphart how many people serve on the Citizens Advisory Commission and was this a Board or Commission action. MR. LEAPHART answered, "Essentially, yes." There are 16 members, one is vacant right now. MR. MIKE EASTHAM, Snomad Snowmachine Club, supported SJR 5. MR. BILL EASTHAM, President, Mat-Su Motormushers, strongly supported SJR 5. MR. ROSS COEN said that he is speaking now as a staff member of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center which opposes SJR 5. He understands that with the passage of ANILCA that access was allowed in the park for traditional uses. This was so that land owners could reach home sights and provide access for subsistence uses. He questioned how recreational snowmachining could be qualified as a traditional use since it didn't exist in the Park before 1980. MR. COEN stated that the Park Service received 1,392 comments (nation-wide) from individuals during the comment process. However, 1,220 or 87 percent of them supported the Park Service's decision to close the Park to snowmachining. MR. KEVIN HITE responded that the public process in Fairbanks had over 400 positive comments and 700 opposing the actions. He said this issue is obviously going to be litigated and strongly encouraged the legislature's participation in a lawsuit. The Alaska State Snowmobile Association has retained Mr. Bill Horn, one of the initial authors of ANILCA, as legal counsel and he has very eloquently countered every Park Service false finding. Number 376 SENATOR LINCOLN noted that the comments in their packets were from Anchorage and Fairbanks and the area they are discussing is in the Denali Borough. She called the Denali Borough to see what their position is on the resolution and they hadn't taken a position, because they were unaware of it. She was concerned that the resolution, dated January 27, 1999 is just referred to Resources and goes to the full body for a vote. She didn't want to exclude anyone from testifying, especially those people who reside in that area and have used it traditionally. This is why she will vote "no recommendation." CHAIRMAN HALFORD said he had a lot of long-term friends in that area and all of them were opposed to the D2 lands bill in 1980. SENATOR LINCOLN noted it was written January 27 and there are only support letters and asked if the information had been put out to the general public. She asked if there were any letters that were non-supportive. MR. HUBER responded that they provided state-wide notice and met the notice requirements for today's hearing. They also did a press release on the introduction of the resolution and in addition received other E-mail messages in support of the bill today that were dropped off to her staff probably an hour previous to today's' meeting. They had not received any messages, E-mails, POMs, letters, or faxes in opposition to the resolution. Number 280 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to pass SJR 5 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN HALFORD adjourned the meeting at 4:25 p.m.