Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/05/2000 01:50 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 349 "An Act relating to powers of the Board of Game, means of access for hunting, trapping, and fishing, the definition of 'means' and 'methods,' and hunting safety education and game conservation education programs; relating to the purposes of game refuges, fish and game critical habitat areas, and public use areas." Co-Chair Therriault provided members with proposed committee substitute, work draft 1-LS1405\ Utermohle, 4/4/00 (copy on file). MIKE TIBBLES, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE THERRIAULT observed that a proposed committee substitute was created to address concerns expressed during the 3/29/00 House Finance Committee meeting. He reviewed the committee substitute. Sections 1 and 2 deleted "enhancement" and inserted "and maintenance" in a number of places. The change addressed concern that the department may be expected to increase new populations whether than maintain healthy populations. Page 3, section 4 addressed concerns by the Department of Fish and Game that the definition of means and methods did not cover all current practices. Language was modified to add "substances" and the "use of" to allow the use of a tool or substance. The sponsor and the Board of Game's attorney worked on the amendment. Representative J. Davies questioned if it could be read to be redundant. He questioned if the language would address the manner in which the tools are used. Mr. Tibbles stressed that the intention is to include means, tools, implements, devices and the use of substances. He observed that the use of a substance would include poison to trap or bait. Language was added in line 31, page 3: "consistent with (1) of this section". The addition addresses the concern that the protection of traditional use of fish and game not be elevated to the same level protection, enhancement and preservation of the fish and game habitat. Subsection (1) would be the ultimate goal or the purpose of a state wildlife refuge. Subsection (2) would remain a purpose, but it must remain consistent with subsection (1). Subsection (3): "perpetuate and enhance general public recreation in a quality environment" was deleted. Sections 7, 8, and 9 address the ability of the department to work with municipalities and private non-profits to develop hunting safety education and wildlife conservation education programs. Currently, private non-profits are required to establish programs for the primary purpose of preserving hunting, fishing and trapping. The department testified that they would read the wildlife conservation education programs broadly. The Potters Marsh viewing center was referenced. He observed that organizations engaged in wildlife conservation education programs might not be created for the primary purpose of preserving hunting, fishing and trapping. The intent is to not exclude these organizations. Sections 10 through 15 deal with public use areas. The word "preserve" was deleted and replaced with "maintain" in each of the sections. The change addressed the concern that public use areas would be more like refuges. EDDIE GRASSER, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE MASEK provided information on the committee substitute. He explained that legal counsel for the Board of Game stated that the language would cover most of the contingencies that the Board would have to address under section 4. He stressed that the intent is that the use of tools would also be included. Representative J. Davies questioned if Mr. Grasser would object to the insertion of "manner of" in front of "use". Mr. Grasser stated that he would not object to the change. Co-Chair Mulder questioned why is the section of means and methods needed in the definition. Mr. Grasser stated that the section was inserted as the result of a regulation by the Board of Game requiring bones to be packed out of the field. He stressed that statutes clearly state that bones are not part of the edible portion of an animal that would need to be packed out. Co-Chair Mulder observed that they are working hard at a definition that may work and questioned if it would not be better to address the particular concern. Mr. Grasser noted that there is no definition of the terms and expressed concern that the Board of Game has used this as a loophole. Representative J. Davies agreed that it would be simpler to state that bones were not included in items that would be packed out. Mr. Grasser referred to deletion of section 6, subsection (3). The language was removed to avoid confusion. Mr. Tibbles noted that the department would not be able to preclude kayaks from nesting grounds if the language were included. Representative J. Davies pointed out that the problem was addressed with the inclusion of "consistent with", which modified subsection (3). Mr. Grasser stated that they would not object to its insertion. WAYNE REGELIN, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION, DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME provided information on the committee substitute. He noted that the proposed committee substitute resolved concerns with one exception. Section 3 gives local advisory committees veto authority over actions of the Board of Game. He pointed out that they are advisory committees. There are over 80 advisory committees. They sometimes share jurisdiction. He noted that the Board of Game has a though process and rarely closes down access. Representative J. Davies stated that he also had concerns on the issue. Vice Chair Bunde questioned how the change from "enhance" to "maintain" relates to sustained yield. Mr. Regelin did not think the change would have an effect. Vice Chair Bunde asked for more information on the language on page 3, line 26. Mr. Regelin explained that the language would not cause problems for the Board or department. Vice Chair Bunde referred to page 4, line 18 "with other organizations". Mr. Regelin stressed that the department attempts to cooperate with all private groups to have joint programs, but didn't want to have a mandate. Mr. Grasser explained that 4H organizations would be able to participate if the legislature chose to do a pass through grant and the department chose to assist them. The language is permissive, not mandatory. The grants are subject to legislative appropriation. Municipalities and private non-profits that are setup to preserve hunting, fishing and trapping would only be allowed to participate in wildlife conservation education programs; they would not be allowed to participate in hunter training programs. (TAPE CHANGE, HFC 00 - 103, SIDE 1) Mr. Grasser expressed trust that the legislature would not allow money to be funneled to anti-hunting groups to attack hunting and conservation education programs. The legislature can appropriate to individual pass through grants. Mr. Regelin stated that the language would provide that the primary purpose must be to preserve hunting, fishing and trapping. Vice Chair Bunde emphasized that there are no "side boards" on other organizations. Co-Chair Therriault noted that the legislation states: hunting safety education not hunting, safety, education. Vice Chair Bunde pointed out that education could be in favor of or against hunting. Representative J. Davies noted that there are wildlife conservation programs that would not be pro or anti-hunting. Mr. Regelin observed that 4H doesn't have as its primary purpose hunting, trapping or fishing, but that they have a strong program that the department would like to support. Mr. Grasser did not think that the legislature had appropriated funding for any of the programs in the recent years. The legislation provides a mechanism to work with organizations, but the organizations would need to work with the department and the legislature. NANCY WELCH, LAND MANAGER, DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES expressed concerns with language being deleted on page 5, line 31. She felt that the reordering would tip the multiple use scales toward the Department of Fish and Game. She noted that the Susitna Area Plan is deleted from the provision. The Susitna Area Plan is the basis the department uses for decision making. She stressed that the Susitna Area Plan contains provisions for its modification. Representative J. Davies MOVED Amendment 1: delete language on page 3, lines 7 - 9; insert "specifically authorized by a regulation adopted by the Board of Fisheries of the Board of Game, provided that the local fish and game advisory committee with jurisdiction over the area where the regulation would apply has been notified in writing of the proposed regulation". The amendment would address concerns of the advisory committee. This would remove the absolute veto power of the advisory committee. Mr. Grasser observed that there would not be a need for the subsection as amended. The advisory committees are already notified. He maintained that subsection 2 only places a higher standard on the Board for actions reducing public access. He gave examples of previous Board actions. Co-Chair Mulder asked about circumstances where a local advisory committee tends to be dominated by commercial fishermen. He observed that such a Board could attempt to maintain their level of take at the expense of non-resident sport fishermen. He asked how the regulation would apply to such a situation. Mr. Grasser replied that the Board could act regardless of subsection (2). He noted that the recommendations of one advisory committee would not be enacted if there were a conflict with another advisory committee. Representative Grussendorf observed that Board of Fish members are under a lot of scrutiny and pressure to make the best decisions. He pointed out that people in local areas (advisory committees) have a lot of self-interests in mind. That interest may not be in the best idea of management and cause problems with sustained yield. He stressed that the Advisory Committees cannot be allowed to make the final decisions. Co-Chair Therriault stated that subsections 3, 4, 5 & 6 would stand by themselves. He did not think that subsection 2 would provide veto over actions that the Board (of Fish) has taken under the other provisions. Representative J. Davies disagreed. Vice Chair Bunde asked how many advisory committees are in the state. Mr. Grasser replied that there are 84 advisory committees. Vice Chair Bunde suggested that the subsection would give power to the advisory committees and in affect create multiple game boards in the State. He expressed concern that the local advisory committees would not have a statewide perspective. Mr. Tibbles noted that he spoke with the drafter of the bill. He explained that subsection 2 would only apply in the absence of any of the other provisions. The subsection would encourage the Board to use the other provisions and justify why they are restricting access. Representative Phillips felt uncomfortable with the inclusion of subsection 2. She pointed out that the advisory committees do not have legislative oversight. Mr. Grasser argued that allowing advisory committees to have veto power is not a new concept. He maintained that each advisory committee would have an opportunity to object to provisions of the Board of Game affecting their unit. Representative J. Davies pointed out that there are many people that hunt and fish outside of their own areas. Mr. Grasser explained how the process works. The Board of Fish or Game would have to create a special use area with access restrictions. Regulations are promulgated and they are published for public review before the meeting takes place. Then the Board makes the decision. Then the Advisory Committee can take action. Representative J. Davies stressed that then the advisory committee would have a veto. Co-Chair Mulder stated that the access would not be restricted. Representative Grussendorf could not imagine the Board of Fish and Game making a decision without a rational reason for the decision. He maintained that action of the Board of Game would be supported with data and biological studies. He argued it would not be a good idea to give veto power to the advisory committees. Vice Chair Bunde observed that the Board of Game could decide to eliminate a controlled use area and let more people in; the local advisory committee could decide to retain restrictions. Co-Chair Therriault pointed out that the traditional means of access may not be restricted. Vice Chair Bunde clarified that once an area has been restricted that the provision would not apply. Mr. Regelin agreed with Vice Chair Bunde's conclusion. He stated that he has not seen a board of game close an area without a good reason. He spoke against providing veto power to advisory committees. Representative J. Davies asked how many advisory committees have jurisdiction in an area. Mr. Regelin replied usually one, in some areas it is five or six and is determined through the regulatory process. Representative Grussendorf reiterated that a Board would not make a decision without supporting documentation. He pointed out that advisory committees would overlap in regards to the Board of Fish. Mr. Grasser acknowledged concerns. He referred to issues in Noatak. He pointed out that there are some access restrictions that were not implemented for public safety or conservation issues. He maintained that there are very few places left where people can use different forms of access. The intent is to protect areas like the Nelchina Basin. Vice Chair Bunde noted that he served on an advisory committee and observed that they can be politicized. A roll call vote was taken on the motion to adopt Amendment 1. IN FAVOR: Davies, Grussendorf, Phillips, Bunde OPPOSED: Davis, Therriault, Mulder Representatives Foster, Moses, Williams, Austerman were absent from the vote. The MOTION FAILED (4-3). Representative Grussendorf MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 2: delete section 2. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. Representative J. Davies MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 3: insert "manner of" before "use" on page 3 line 25. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. Representative J. Davies MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 4: delete subsection (f) beginning on page 5, line 31, [PERPETUATE AND ENHANCE ADDITIONAL PUBLIC USES DESCRIBED IN THE SUSITNA AREA PLAN]. Mr. Grasser argued against the amendment. Representative G. Davis observed that the area plans are required under the designation of the land use in the area. He expressed concern with the deletion of the Susitna Area Plan. Mr. Grasser pointed out that the Susitna Area Plan also has within its confines suggestions of uses such as parks. He maintained that the Recreation River Plan reduced any need for the Susitna Area Plan. Representative J. Davies spoke in support of the amendment. CAROL CARROLL, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF SUPPORT SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES observed that deletion of the Susitna Area Plan would take away something that the department uses to settle contradictory uses. (TAPE CHANGE, HFC 00 - 103, SIDE 2) Ms. Carroll explained that the nature of the public use area is not changed. The guidance is removed. Representative Phillips pointed out that the plan would remain and that the department can still go to it for guidance. Representative J. Davies stressed that the language provides a link. A roll call vote was taken on the motion to adopt Amendment 4. IN FAVOR: Davis, Grussendorf, Phillips, Davies OPPOSED: Foster, Bunde, Mulder, Therriault Representatives Moses, Austerman and Davis were absent from the vote. The MOTION FAILED (4-4). Representative J. Davies MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 5 delete sections 15 - 19. These sections address the Goldstream Public Use Area. The deletion would leave the existing statutory language in place. He stressed that the multi-use trail has been protected by the existing plan. He added that the first purpose is to enhance recreation. There is a large area that encompasses mining. He noted that fish and wildlife protection is the second priority. He expressed concern that the legislation would impact existing mining. He emphasized that there is not a problem. Co-Chair Mulder agreed with comments by Representative J. Davies. He stressed that the change does not include or exclude anything. He concluded that the Goldstream Public Use Area was only included for consistency with other public use areas. Co-Chair Therriault stated that without a compelling reason to maintain the language that he would support the amendment. There being NO OBJECTION, Amendment 5 was adopted. Co-Chair Therriault noted that there is a zero fiscal note. Co-Chair Mulder MOVED to report CSHB 349 (FIN) out of Committee with the accompanying fiscal note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CSHB 349 (FIN) was REPORTED out of Committee with "no recommendation" and with a zero fiscal note by the Department of Natural Resources.