Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/01/1996 01:40 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HOUSE BILL 212                                                               
                                                                               
       "An Act relating  to the management  and sale of  state                 
       timber  and relating  to the  administration  of forest                 
       land and classification of state land."                                 
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES spoke in support of HB 212 as                 
  currently revised.   She noted that the  House State Affairs                 
  Committee  introduced  HB 212  at  the request  of Fairbanks                 
  constituents in  the timber  industry.   She indicated  that                 
  these were people  operating small lumber businesses  in the                 
  local communities.  Their livelihoods  have been impacted by                 
  the complicated procedures  they endure  in order to  secure                 
  timber from the State.   The complication has resulted  from                 
  the Department's inability to allow harvesting.  The current                 
  statutes as required by Title 38 in the five year plan, have                 
  made the continuation of an ongoing industry difficult.                      
                                                                               
  Representative  James  advised   that  well-managed   timber                 
  harvesting  not only  helps create  and  support jobs  and a                 
  healthy  economy,  it  also  creates  and  supports  healthy                 
  forests.  The  Fairbanks community is being  prohibited from                 
  developing  the   basic  timber  industries   necessary  for                 
  maintaining  strong  forest ecology  and  a  strong economic                 
  environment.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Representative James pointed  out that HB 212  addresses the                 
                                                                               
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  minimum  changes  necessary to  ensure  the survival  of the                 
  timber industry in  Alaska.  She stated  that Representative                 
  Williams had  worked intensively  on the  legislation during                 
  the interim to create a more "diluted" bill; one which could                 
  be bipartisanly supported.                                                   
                                                                               
  Representative James indicated her support of Representative                 
  Navarre's Amendment #1.  This amendment would change Section                 
  2 of  the  bill.   [Attachment  #1].   Representative  James                 
  commented  that  the  bill  would   apply  to  timber  areas                 
  throughout the State.                                                        
                                                                               
  In   response   to    Representative   Mulder's    question,                 
  Representative  James  explained  that  the   focus  of  the                 
  legislation was  not to make  more timber available,  but to                 
  make timber available  when needed.   The market drives  the                 
  system, and  at certain times,  people in the  industry were                 
  not able to  react because of the unavailability  of timber.                 
  The  legislation would  make small  sales of  less  than 160                 
  acres available  without being  on the  five year  schedule.                 
  She pointed out  that the Division  of Forestry has given  a                 
  commitment to  try to put all  small sales on the  five year                 
  plan.   The legislation would provide that the Department of                 
  Natural  Resources  (DNR)  adjust to  each  situation  as it                 
  arises.                                                                      
                                                                               
  Representative  Navarre voiced  support of  the legislation,                 
  which  he thought on a  smaller scale should be sustainable.                 
  Representative  Navarre  questioned if  Representative James                 
  had  strong inclinations regarding  Section #11 - management                 
  of the  Tanana Valley  State Forest.   Representative  James                 
  advised that portion was necessary to provide  clarification                 
  of information already existing in Title 41.                                 
                                                                               
  Representative Therriault pointed out that the Department of                 
  Fish  and  Game  - Habitat  Division  fiscal  note indicated                 
  increased cutting.  Representative James replied  that there                 
  should not  be a large  impact on that  Department, although                 
  agreed there  would be increased  activity.   Representative                 
  Therriault inquired  if the Department of Fish  and Game had                 
  provided a  previous fiscal note  which had been  reduced to                 
  the amount requested at this time.                                           
                                                                               
  GERON BRUCE,  LEGISLATIVE  LIAISON, DEPARTMENT  OF FISH  AND                 
  GAME, stated the fiscal note  would address the acceleration                 
  and that ability  to quickly respond  placing timber on  the                 
  market.  The Division of Habitat has suffered large cuts and                 
  will need  the extra revenue in order to respond in a timely                 
  manner.                                                                      
                                                                               
  Representative  Navarre  countered  that the  fiscal  amount                 
  requested  was  too  small  to   provide  an  adequate  job.                 
                                                                               
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  Representative Navarre MOVED  to adopt Amendment #1.   There                 
  being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted. [Attachment #1].                         
                                                                               
  MARTY  RUTHERFORD,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  DEPUTY                 
  COMMISSIONER,  ANCHORAGE  OFFICE,   DEPARTMENT  OF   NATURAL                 
  RESOURCES,  ANCHORAGE, provided  Committee members  with the                 
  Knowles Administration's position on HB 212.  She noted that                 
  with the  inclusion  of  Amendment  #1, the  bill  was  well                 
  balanced.  Ms. Rutherford advised that  there has been a lot                 
  of controversy on Section #4 which  would allow sales of 160                 
  acres or less excluded from the five year timber sales.  The                 
  Board  of  Forestry  recommended   to  the  House  Resources                 
  Committee, that sales  of 160 acres  or less be included  in                 
  not less than one of the  five year timber sale plans.   She                 
  pointed out that  the Administration  relies heavily on  the                 
  Board  of  Forestry to  provide  a  form for  all  the stock                 
  holders on forestry issues.                                                  
                                                                               
  Based  upon  these concerns,  the  Administration recommends                 
  that  the  Department should  require  that the  Division of                 
  Forestry place as many of the 160 acre sales on the one year                 
  scheduled timber sale.                                                       
  Ms.  Rutherford  concluded  and  praised  the   assimilation                 
  process in passage of HB 212.                                                
                                                                               
  JACK  PHELPS,  (TESTIFIED  VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  EXECUTIVE                 
  DIRECTOR,  ALASKA  FOREST   ASSOCIATION  (AFA),   ANCHORAGE,                 
  advised Committee members that the Alaska Forest Association                 
  supported immediate  passage of HB  212.  He  mentioned that                 
  the  bill was important  to the  forest product  industry in                 
  Alaska,  particularly  for  the  segment  of  industry  that                 
  depends upon the State timber sale program for a significant                 
  percentage  of its  wood  supply.   The  bill would  provide                 
  important support for the State Division  of Forestry in its                 
  effort to  make the State  timber sale program  effective in                 
  meeting  the  needs  of Alaska's  smaller  timber operators,                 
  particularly in the  Interior.  [Copy of testimony on file].                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  MARY   SHIELDS,   (TESTIFIED   VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   SELF,                 
  FAIRBANKS, referenced  Section #4  explaining that  Interior                 
  Alaskans want  to be  part of  the decision  making process.                 
  She asked where the public would  be able to find out  about                 
  the sales.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Representative James commented that  previous testimony from                 
  the Department indicated  their intent to get  as many small                 
  sales on the five year plan as possible.  The only time that                 
  Section #4 would need  to occur, would be  when there was  a                 
  demand for immediate timber.  Small emergency sales would be                 
  exempt.  [Copy of testimony on file].                                        
                                                                               
                                                                               
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  TOMAS  H. BOUTIN,  STATE  FORESTER,  DIVISION  OF  FORESTRY,                 
  DEPARTMENT OF  FISH AND GAME,  noted that every  sale except                 
  for those  listed  in Section  #1 of  the legislation  would                 
  require a  forest land  use plan.   Section #1  of the  bill                 
  would exempt sales of  10 acres or less  from a forest  land                 
  use plan.                                                                    
                                                                               
  In  response to  Ms.  Shields, Mr.  Boutin  stated that  the                 
  Department   would  publish  a   notice  of  "best  interest                 
  findings" in the daily newspaper in  the legal section.  Ms.                 
  Shields  interjected  that  would not  be  acceptable.   She                 
  recommended  that all sales  be on  the five  year schedule.                 
  Representative  James reminded Ms. Shields that the proposed                 
  legislation was a "compromise" bill.                                         
                                                                               
  STU  PECHEK,  (TESTIFIED  VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  FAIRBANKS,                 
  testified in support of HB 212.                                              
                                                                               
  MARK  LUTTRELL,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE), PRESIDENT,                 
  EASTERN  KENAI  PENINSULA ENVIRONMENTAL  ACTION ASSOCIATION,                 
  SEWARD, recommended Committee members to  veto passage of HB                 
  212.     He  concurred  with  Representative  Navarre,  that                 
  currently a lot of  clear-cutting has occurred on the  Kenai                 
  Peninsula.  He  disagreed with Section  #2 and Section #3  -                 
  the  site  specific plan.    Mr. Luttrell  also  objected to                 
  Section  #4,  noting that  160 acres  would  be too  large a                 
  parcel.                                                                      
                                                                               
  Mr. Boutin advised that beetle kill areas would be harvested                 
  and then reforested  which could  enhance the fish  habitat.                 
  Absent reforestation, beetle  kill timber would die  and the                 
  second growth would take a long time to mature.                              
                                                                               
  Mr. Boutin added that the Division  of Forestry concurs that                 
  the five  year forest schedule  is very  important and  that                 
  they will try to have all sales on every five year schedule.                 
  He reassured listeners that the five year schedule should be                 
  comprehensive so to  be valuable to the  timber industry and                 
  the public.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Navarre asked if  sales of 160 acres or  less                 
  would be shown on the schedule in order to guarantee advance                 
  notice.  Mr. Boutin said absolutely.                                         
                                                                               
  ED  DAVIS,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  BOARD  MEMBER,                 
  ALASKA  WILDERNESS  RECREATION   AND  TOURISM   ASSOCIATION,                 
  VALDEZ, praised the House Resources  Committee for well done                 
  work  on  the  proposed  legislation,  then  indicating  the                 
  remaining problem areas.   He  thought that Section #2 would                 
  weaken the  need to address the long term cumulative effects                 
  of timber  harvest activities  in a  forest land  plan.   As                 
  timber resources  are developed,  the long  term effects  of                 
                                                                               
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  harvest activity would impact the tourism industry.                          
                                                                               
  He  added, Section #4  allows an unlimited  number of timber                 
  sales  to be  exempt from the  five year  schedule, provided                 
  each sale is less  than 160 acres.   Mr. Davis thought  that                 
  could  be  a potential  loophole  leading  to abuse  of  the                 
  planning process.  [Copy of testimony on file].                              
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Hanley pointed out that Mr. Davis' concern had been                 
  addressed with Amendment  #1.  Mr. Boutin replied that every                 
  sale larger than  10 acres would  require a forest land  use                 
  plan.  He  explained that the  plan would be distributed  to                 
  the  Department  of   Fish  and  Game,  the   Department  of                 
  Environmental  Conservation  (DEC)  and  sometimes  to   the                 
  Department  of  Commerce  and Economic  Development  (DCED).                 
  Following the agency  process, the  bills are modified  with                 
  input from the  Department of Fish and Game.   At that time,                 
  the forest land plan is used to support the notice.                          
                                                                               
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-24, Side 2).                                            
                                                                               
  LARRY SMITH, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE), ALASKA  FOREST                 
  PRACTICES  ACT  REVIEW  STEERING  COMMITTEE,  HOMER,   spoke                 
  against the passage  of HB  212.  He  referenced the  strong                 
  positions taken by three resource agencies, emphasizing that                 
  the present is  not the  time to create  a greater  unfunded                 
  mandate  to further subsidize  the export of  raw timber and                 
  chips.  He noted that those  agencies suggested to the Board                 
  of Forestry,  the program  for providing minimal  protection                 
  for our fish and wildlife, clean water,  and wood resources,                 
  is  presently dysfunctional  and would  require a  budgetary                 
  implant in  order to  implement the  existing  Title 38  and                 
  Title 41 provisions which comprise the forest practices act.                 
  [Copy of testimony on file].                                                 
                                                                               
  Mr. Smith concluded that the legislation is untimely because                 
  the State at present:                                                        
                                                                               
       1.   Has no mechanism for limiting exports;                             
       2.   No mechanism for making  the cost-causer the cost-                 
            payer;                                                             
       3.   Has an  underfunded, misdirected and  inept forest                 
            practices program; and                                             
       4.   Lacks a  fiscal note describing  additional agency                 
            staff needed for the oversight.                                    
                                                                               
  SEAN  MCGUIRE,   (TESTIFIED  VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  BED   &                 
  BREAKFAST  OWNER,  FAIRBANKS, noted  the  importance of  the                 
  State's support of tourism.  Mr. McGuire stressed that  most                 
  tourists come to  visit Alaska's  vast wilderness which  are                 
  being harvested.  He urged Committee members to vote against                 
  HB  212  in  a  strong  statement of  support  for  Alaska's                 
                                                                               
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  tourism.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Hanley pointed out that  there will continue to  be                 
  public notice required.  He countered Mr. McGuire's argument                 
  regarding  the  timber  harvested, pointing  out  that  many                 
  Alaskan's feel the same way about tourism, an industry which                 
  imports  many  people from  out of  State and  investing the                 
  profits out of  State.  Co-Chair  Hanley added that all  the                 
  resource and mineral industries in Alaska export most of the                 
  product available.  Co-Chair Hanley  agreed with Mr. McGuire                 
  that  the  State  does  need value  added  products.    This                 
  legislation is an attempt to provide  some of the harvest to                 
  the small business owners.                                                   
                                                                               
  CARL PORTMAN, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), COMMUNICATIONS                 
  DIRECTOR,  RESOURCE  DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL,  ANCHORAGE, voiced                 
  support  for  effective  forest  management  initiatives  to                 
  create  a  stable  timber supply  with  increased  access to                 
  Alaska's vast forest.   He stated  that the legislation  was                 
  important  and would  help  meet the  needs  of the  smaller                 
  timber  operators.  HB  212 would allow  the Commissioner of                 
  DNR to respond to short term timber supply needs.                            
                                                                               
  Mr. Portman added that it was  imperative that a timber base                 
  be established in order to provide for a stable supply.   HB                 
  212 would  help guarantee  that stable  supply, a  necessary                 
  element in attracting the investment capital needed to build                 
  a healthy forest industry, diversifying the economy.                         
                                                                               
  Mr. Portman noted that  the bill was good public  policy; it                 
  would  simplify the  information of  available timber  sales                 
  which  would  retain  environmental  protection  and  public                 
  involvement.  HB  212 would reestablish "true"  multiple use                 
  management   of   State   forests,    balancing   projection                 
  utilization and replenishment of timber resources with other                 
  uses.   That would  promote the long  standing objectives of                 
  economic  diversification  while  insuring  the  sustainable                 
  harvest of timber  in State forests, originally  created for                 
  the timber resources.                                                        
                                                                               
  Mr. Portman reiterated that the Resource Development Council                 
  strongly  supported CS  HB  212 (FIN)  draft  and urged  the                 
  Committee to pass the bill.                                                  
                                                                               
  DAN  RITZMAN, BOREAL  FOREST  COORDINATOR  FOR THE  NORTHERN                 
  ALASKA  ENVIRONMENTAL  CENTER,  ALASKA ENVIRONMENTAL  LOBBY,                 
  JUNEAU,  stated  that  the   proposed  legislation  was  not                 
  necessary.    He  pointed  out   that  HB  212  would   make                 
  substantial changes to  Titles #38  and #41, statutes  which                 
  cover the entire State,  not just "small" sales in  Interior                 
  operators.    He continued,  the  development of  the Forest                 
  Resources and  Practices Act  was a  long process  involving                 
                                                                               
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  representatives  from   a  variety   of  interests,   timber                 
  industry, fishing industry, and  conservation organizations.                 
  [Copy of testimony on file].                                                 
                                                                               
  Mr. Ritzman addressed specific concerns:                                     
                                                                               
       1.   Currently the Alaska  Department of Fish and  Game                 
            and the Department  of Environmental  Conservation                 
            (DEC) do not  have the revenue to carry  out their                 
            existing statutory requirements.   The legislation                 
            will further  stress  these  Departments  and  put                 
            populations of fish and  wildlife at further risk.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
       2.   Section  #2  appears  to  eliminate  an  important                 
            requirement that the State use the  best available                 
            data to  evaluate  the  cumulative  and  long-term                 
            effects of forestry activity on both the trees and                 
            non-timber  resources.    Mr. Ritzman  recommended                 
            reinserting the language "immediate and long term"                 
            effects  of  "individual  and  collective"  forest                 
            activities.  (Addressed by Amendment #1).                          
                                                                               
       3.   Section #4 would eliminate  the five year schedule                 
            requirements for sales of 160 acres or less, which                 
            would  mean that  over  70% of  the  sales in  the                 
            Interior and a  fair number of sales in  the Kenai                 
            would not appear on the schedule.                                  
                                                                               
  Mr. Ritzman pointed out that the  five year schedule was the                 
  only  consistent  tool  to  notify   the  public  and  other                 
  commercial users of the forest harvest.  He recommended that                 
  the Committee adopt  the language suggested by  the Board of                 
  Forestry, that sales  of less  than 160 acres  appear in  at                 
  least one five year plan.                                                    
                                                                               
  WILLIAM  WOLFE,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE), FAIRBANKS,                 
  testified in opposition  of clear-cutting.   He pointed  out                 
  that it takes a long time for forests to recover from clear-                 
  cutting and the environmental damages it causes.                             
                                                                               
  BOB  ZACHEL,  (TESTIFIED  VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  FAIRBANKS,                 
  stated that he was the operator of a small saw mill.  He has                 
  had a difficult time acquiring quality logs during  the past                 
  few years,  a  need  to  insure  continual  operation  of  a                 
  consistent  business.    Mr. Zachel  commented  that  he was                 
  disappointed  in  some of  the  compromises made  within the                 
  legislation, although supported the concept of the bill.  He                 
  urged members to pass the bill from Committee.                               
                                                                               
  CARL  OLMSTEAD,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE), FAIRBANKS,                 
  commented that he  had been involved  in the timber  harvest                 
                                                                               
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  issue  for many years, and  thought that the legislation was                 
  not necessary  to represent  those concerns.   He  suggested                 
  that regulations  could  be made  at the  discretion of  the                 
  Commissioner of DNR and then worked through the Division  of                 
  Forestry.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Mr. Olmstead voiced concern specifically  with the exemption                 
  of the 160 acres from listings.   The five year plan is  the                 
  instrument  where  the  public is  involved.    Mr. Olmstead                 
  pointed out that  those who use the  forest for a  number of                 
  purposes, know that logging is  the most destructive purpose                 
  and has the most long range impact.                                          
                                                                               
  Mr. Olmstead strongly  supported the  amendments written  by                 
  Representative Navarre.  [Attachment #1].                                    
                                                                               
  DAVE LACEY, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), FAIRBANKS, urged                 
  the  Committee to vote against the proposed legislation.  He                 
  spoke against the 160 acre sales, indicating that they would                 
  be too large.  He also requested that the public be involved                 
  with  the  one  year  notice,  voicing  support  of  further                 
  expanded funding for the Division of Habitat.                                
                                                                               
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-25, Side 1).                                            
                                                                               
  Mr. Lacey addressed the issues of economic development which                 
  he  felt  should  be  driven  by  the quality  of  life  and                 
  education concerns.   He stressed  that the legislation  was                 
  not  needed  and  that  those  concerns could  be  addressed                 
  through regulations from the Department.                                     
                                                                               
  LARRY  LANDRY,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  FAIRBANKS,                 
  echoed  the  concerns  of  Mr.  Lacey.    He  supported  the                 
  objectives of the  legislation although voiced  concern that                 
  the public process  would be  eliminated, pointing out  that                 
  most of the sales in the Fairbanks area are under 160 acres.                 
  He  strongly   supported   Amendment  #2   as  prepared   by                 
  Representative Navarre [Attachment #1] and voiced opposition                 
  to Section #11.                                                              
                                                                               
  SYLVIA  WARD,  (TESTIFIED  VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  EXECUTIVE                 
  DIRECTOR, NORTHERN ALASKA  ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER,  FAIRBANKS,                 
  questioned the merit of  Section #7.  She stated  that local                 
  use provides that all users have equal footing, although the                 
  wording of that Section leaves the concept of "multiple use"                 
  muddled.  She  requested that the Committee keep the concept                 
  "simple".                                                                    
                                                                               
  Ms.  Ward  addressed her  concerns  with using  the language                 
  "emergency  sale",  and the  loop  holes which  that concept                 
  would  provide.   She  summarized  that to  address concerns                 
  raised by small loggers, the community would need to endorse                 
                                                                               
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  a proposal requiring  a change  of behavior on  the part  of                 
  DNR.  Ms. Ward requested  that Committee members look closer                 
  at the operations before passing the legislation.                            
                                                                               
  ERIK  HOLLAND,  (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  FAIRBANKS,                 
  provided Committee  members with  an illustrated  copy of  a                 
  poll which he  conducted at various locations  in Fairbanks.                 
  [Copy of testimony  on file].   He stated that the  graphics                 
  illustrated  five  stages  of  clear-cutting.   The  results                 
  astounded him; they  indicated the  people of Fairbanks  did                 
  not want clear-cutting or logging in the Tanana Valley.                      
                                                                               
  Representative   Navarre   commented  that   on   the  Kenai                 
  Peninsula, some small operators were having a difficult time                 
  obtaining  logs   because  of  the  amount  harvested  being                 
  exported.  Representative Martin pointed  out that the Homer                 
  area was filled with diseased trees  and that they should be                 
  harvested.    Representative Grussendorf  reminded Committee                 
  members that dead  trees are  important to wildlife  habitat                 
  and the bird  world.  Representative  Grussendorf reiterated                 
  that  it  was  important  that  the agencies  involved  were                 
  adequately funded to handle the additional load.                             
                                                                               
  In   response   to   Representative    Martin's   statement,                 
  Representative Navarre explained that the legislation is not                 
  restricted to dead trees.  He requested that Amendment #2 be                 
  considered in the next Committee  of referral, advising that                 
  he would not offer Amendment #2 or #3.  [Attachment #1].                     
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder MOVED to report CS HB 212 (FIN) out of                 
  Committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal notes.   There  being NO OBJECTIONS,  it                 
  was so ordered.                                                              
                                                                               
  CS HB  212 (FIN) was  reported out of  Committee with  a "do                 
  pass" recommendation and with fiscal notes by the Department                 
  of Fish  and Game and zero fiscal notes by the Department of                 
  Environmental  Conservation and  the  Department of  Natural                 
  Resources dated 1/24/96.                                                     

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