Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/29/2003 01:46 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 210                                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to the Chitina dip net fishery; and                                                                       
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
RYNNIEVA   MOSS,  STAFF,   REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   provided                                                                   
information about  the bill.   She noted  that a bill  in the                                                                   
last legislative  session would have extended  the $25 permit                                                                   
for Chitina  dipnetting  and then  phased it  out.  She  read                                                                   
from minutes of the Senate Resources  Committee in that year,                                                                   
when Senator  Wilkins stated that  his intent was to  have an                                                                   
accessible, productive  and safe  fishery, and that  he could                                                                   
support a continuation  of the fee knowing that  it would end                                                                   
in the  following year, passing  administration along  to the                                                                   
State and [Native] Corporations.   She noted that since then,                                                                   
there had been a survey of lands in the Chitina River area.                                                                     
Ms. Moss referred to a map outlining  the area referred to in                                                                   
the  bill, indicating  both public  and private  lands.   She                                                                   
stated  that  approximately  60  percent of  the  lands  were                                                                   
public  access.    She  noted that  the  survey  indicated  a                                                                   
monument  every 2/10  mile and  explained  that $50  thousand                                                                   
remained  of the  survey  monies to  produce  a brochure  for                                                                   
anyone  applying  a permit,  indicating  public  and  private                                                                   
land. The  bill does  not eliminate  the permit process,  but                                                                   
only the $25 fee.                                                                                                               
Ms. Moss  addressed the fiscal  note, which indicated  a loss                                                                   
of  $170  thousand  in  revenues.    She  explained  how  the                                                                   
Department  used this  funding, and noted  that the  original                                                                   
note indicated a $181 thousand  loss.  The trespass fees paid                                                                   
to   native   corporations   totaled   $130,536;   the   site                                                                   
maintenance  totaled another  $36 thousand.    She  concluded                                                                   
that the Department  was actually losing only  $2 per permit,                                                                   
less the cost of printing the  permits, which totaled $3,600.                                                                   
She pointed out that the bill  presented no major loss to the                                                                   
general fund.                                                                                                                   
Ms. Moss explained that in the  Spring the Fish Board changed                                                                   
the classification of fishing  in Chitina from subsistence to                                                                   
"personal  use",  which would  require  a $15  sport  fishing                                                                   
license, above  the fish netting permit.   Estimates indicate                                                                   
that ten  percent of  fishers were  now required to  purchase                                                                   
sports fishing  licenses and that  under the bill,  providing                                                                   
$11 thousand additional revenue  to the State. She also noted                                                                   
estimates  that  a potential  of  3,000  additional  licenses                                                                   
would be  purchased, totaling  $45 thousand  in new  revenue.                                                                   
She   indicated  that   this   revenue   could  support   the                                                                   
maintenance  issue surrounding  the  bill.   She stated  that                                                                   
Representative  Coghill believes that  the funding  should be                                                                   
found through  other efficiencies and treated  as an existing                                                                   
maintenance  expense.    She pointed  out  that  the  Chitina                                                                   
dipnetters  were the only  fisheries in  the state  of Alaska                                                                   
that was paying for permits.                                                                                                    
Representative Chenault  asked if Chitina dipnetting  was the                                                                   
only fishery to subsidize waste  disposal through a fee.  Ms.                                                                   
Moss confirmed that  this was true, but added  that the Kenai                                                                   
dipnetting area  had a municipal  charge for waste  disposal.                                                                   
In response  to a  question by  Representative Chenault,  Ms.                                                                   
Moss  replied that  the benefit  did  not go  to the  fishers                                                                   
Co-Chair Harris  asked if Atna [Native Corporation]  land was                                                                   
used to access the river.  Ms.  Moss stated that the brochure                                                                   
would  clearly  detail public  and  private access,  so  that                                                                   
there would  be no reason to  use private property  to access                                                                   
the river. In response to a question  by Co-Chair Harris, Ms.                                                                   
Moss  confirmed that  the only  action was  to eliminate  the                                                                   
Representative  Croft  referred   to  the  fiscal  note,  and                                                                   
observed an average of 7,000 people  to whom a fee of $25 was                                                                   
charged  generated  approximately  $180 thousand  in  revenue                                                                   
that the State  would no longer be received.   Ms. Moss noted                                                                   
that all of the $2 per permit  was being directed to services                                                                   
other than the Department of Fish and Game.                                                                                     
Representative Croft  observed that the  fee went to  pay for                                                                   
the  agreement with  Atna.  To use  their  private lands  for                                                                   
access  and asked  if the  sponsor proposed  that the  access                                                                   
would  no  longer  be  paid  for  or  available.    Ms.  Moss                                                                   
confirmed  that this  was correct  and added  that the  State                                                                   
would no longer pay for waste management in the area.                                                                           
Co-Chair  Harris asked  if outdoor  plumbing  would still  be                                                                   
maintained,  since this  was a  popular fishing  area in  the                                                                   
State.   Ms. Moss responded that  this issue was  still under                                                                   
consideration and that separate  legislation was being worked                                                                   
on to address the issue.  She  added Representative Coghill's                                                                   
belief  that  the Department  of  Transportation  and  Public                                                                   
Facilities  and  the  Department  of  Fish  and  Game  should                                                                   
collaborate to equitably address  this issue.  She noted that                                                                   
their  office was  communicating  with various  agencies  and                                                                   
organizations to resolve the problem.                                                                                           
Representative  Croft concurred with  Co-Chair Harris  in the                                                                   
concern  for  locating  general  funds  to  provide  restroom                                                                   
facilities and other services.   He agreed that the fee might                                                                   
be reduced, but maintained that  even given a clear brochure,                                                                   
without legal  access through private lands,  border disputes                                                                   
might arise, in  addition to problems with waste  disposal if                                                                   
facilities were  not available.   He suggested that  Fish and                                                                   
Game might at  least find funding to provide  these services.                                                                   
Co-Chair Williams  recalled that  the reason the  statute was                                                                   
initiated was  to prevent crossing  of private  Native lands.                                                                   
He asked how the Committee might address this.                                                                                  
Representative Stoltze  observed that there had  been a great                                                                   
deal of  resources spent  in delineating  the property  lines                                                                   
and access points.                                                                                                              
Co-Chair  Williams   recalled  that  originally   there  were                                                                   
private property signs on the  roadways. Ms. Moss stated that                                                                   
the reason  to keep  the permit,  while eliminating  the fee,                                                                   
was to provide information to  every person fishing outlining                                                                   
the  property lines  between  state and  private  land.   She                                                                   
noted that trespassers stood the  chance of being prosecuted.                                                                   
Representative  Stoltze expressed  his  support of  repealing                                                                   
the  fee,  in that  it  was inappropriate  to  provide  these                                                                   
services  through the  use of  fees. He  maintained that  the                                                                   
Department  of  Transportation   and  Public  Facilities  had                                                                   
plenty  of opportunity  to provide  services  apart from  the                                                                   
permit process.  He noted regulatory  power to set up charges                                                                   
for  use   of  facilities,  and   stated  that  it   was  not                                                                   
appropriate  to charge  fees in correlation  with the  permit                                                                   
Ms. Moss  noted that  at the last  hearing the Department  of                                                                   
Fish and Game stated that they  could use proceeds from sport                                                                   
fishing licenses to provide maintenance of this kind.                                                                           
Representative Joule asked to hear public testimony.                                                                            
Co-Chair Harris asked  if they had received  any comment from                                                                   
the Native Corporation.  Ms. Moss said they had not.                                                                            
The  Glennallen Legislative  Information  Office stated  that                                                                   
written testimony  from Joseph  Hart, General Manager  of the                                                                   
Chitina Native Corporation had been faxed (copy on file).                                                                       
Representative  Foster pointed  out that  many areas  provide                                                                   
their own  maintenance without  state assistance just  out of                                                                   
pride for  their area.   He  gave the  example that  in Nome,                                                                   
citizens provided cleanup on a volunteer basis.                                                                                 
BYRON HALEY, PRESIDENT OF THE  CHITINA DIPNETTER ASSOCIATION,                                                                   
FAIRBANKS,  testified via  teleconference in  support of  the                                                                   
bill.  He stated that Chitina  was the corridor to fishing in                                                                   
the  area,  and maintained  that  a  $25  fee was  no  longer                                                                   
necessary.  He  referred to a letter from the  Departments of                                                                   
Natural  Resources  and Fish  and  Game  in August  of  2002,                                                                   
stating  that the  current  yearly compensation  process  has                                                                   
been difficult  and that  given the  recent survey  and other                                                                   
developments, they do not believe  that the fee is any longer                                                                   
necessary.   He  stressed that  the  private landowner  could                                                                   
still  choose to charge  for access  to their  property.   He                                                                   
strongly encouraged passage of the legislation.                                                                                 
DICK  BISHOP,  FAIRBANKS,  testified  via  teleconference  in                                                                   
support of the bill.  He expressed  thanks to legislators for                                                                   
their work  on the bill  over the years.   He explained  that                                                                   
the  Chitina  Dipnet  industry   was  for  personal  use  and                                                                   
required a  sports fishing  license as a  result of  a recent                                                                   
Board  of  Fisheries  decision.   He  maintained  that  there                                                                   
should be no need for an additional  fee to allow Alaskans to                                                                   
fish  for  food in  that  fishery  and  pointed out  that  no                                                                   
additional  fee  was  charged  for  any  other  personal  use                                                                   
fishery in the state.                                                                                                           
TAPE HFC 03 - 69, Side B                                                                                                      
Mr. Bishop pointed  out that the Native Corporation  was free                                                                   
to charge fees for trespass on their lands as they saw fit.                                                                     
Co-Chair Harris referred  to a letter faxed  from the Chitina                                                                   
Native  Corporation  concerning  trespass  and  cutting  down                                                                   
trees.  He asked  if there was a way to relieve  the concerns                                                                   
of the Native Corporation regarding  activity on their lands.                                                                   
He suggested that if the state  had clearly delineated access                                                                   
to  state  lands,  there  was  a way  to  allay  fears  about                                                                   
Mr. Bishop related a story about  an individual who purchased                                                                   
land  near a  well-used  trail, and  had  not posted  private                                                                   
property  signs indicating  that he  did not  wish people  to                                                                   
trespass.  He  indicated that the private landowners  had the                                                                   
responsibility  to  convey  their wishes  through  signs  and                                                                   
notices, in  the hope  that most  people would respect  those                                                                   
MARK HELM,  VICE PRESIDENT,  CHITINA DIPNETTERS  ASSOCIATION,                                                                   
testified  via teleconference  in support  of the  bill.   He                                                                   
referred to the  map of the surveyed area, sheet  2 of 5, and                                                                   
highlighted  Mile Post  One.   He  indicated  that there  was                                                                   
public access  from that  point to  Milepost 60.62  (GPSO 2).                                                                   
He noted  that from  Milepost  .40 to Milepost  2.21 was  the                                                                   
origination  of  the  trespass  fee eleven  years  ago.    He                                                                   
pointed  out  that  at  that  time,  public  access  was  not                                                                   
available in this area; the state  has now repaired the road,                                                                   
and provided public access.  He  noted that he has operated a                                                                   
fishing  charter for the  past twenty  years, and  maintained                                                                   
that there was little access by  the public in this area, and                                                                   
therefore  not  much  trespassing.     He  stated  that  most                                                                   
dipnetters  fished in  the area  from Milepost  2.39 down  to                                                                   
Haley  Creek.   He maintained  that  percentage figures  were                                                                   
misleading.   He also referred to  the last page of  the map,                                                                   
and stated  that the potential  trespass area was  actually a                                                                   
dangerous cliff,  where no one  fished.  He proposed  that in                                                                   
the current  circumstances,  the trespass  fee was no  longer                                                                   
valid.   He pointed out that  the Native Corporation  did not                                                                   
pay to survey the land.                                                                                                         
PAUL  HOLLAND,  BOARD  MEMBERS   OF  THE  CHITINA  DIPNETTERS                                                                   
ASSOCIATION,  FAIRBANKS,  testified   via  teleconference  in                                                                   
support of the  bill.  He stated that the majority  of dipnet                                                                   
fisherman  fished within  the right  of way.   He also  noted                                                                   
that the  road was  closed at  the present  time, making  the                                                                   
issue of trespass moot at this point.                                                                                           
JESSE  VANDERZANDEN, ALASKA  OUTDOOR  COUNCIL, testified  via                                                                   
teleconference  in support  of  the bill.    He stated  that,                                                                   
according to  the recent survey,  at least 60 percent  of the                                                                   
area  used by  dipnetters was  public  land.   He also  noted                                                                   
identified  public access to  the area.   He maintained  that                                                                   
the trespass  fee was no  longer valid.   He referred  to two                                                                   
letters  provided   as  testimony  to  the   House  Resources                                                                   
Committee.    He quoted  from  a  letter from  Governor  Tony                                                                   
Knowles  to the  Chitina  Native Corporation,  stating  "last                                                                   
summer  DOT/PF  staff  completed  this  legislatively  funded                                                                   
survey which showed that at least  60 percent of the right of                                                                   
way  between O'Brien  and Haley  Creek  affords legal  public                                                                   
access to  the Copper River."   The letter  went on  to state                                                                   
that "  the results of  this survey places  the state  in the                                                                   
awkward position  of collecting fees from a  portion of users                                                                   
in the Chitina  subsistence fisheries to pay  for access that                                                                   
is  not needed  in  order  to  participate in  the  fishery".                                                                   
Finally,  he read,  "ADF&G  is  considering a  proposal  that                                                                   
would  repeal the  access  fee".   He  then  quoted from  the                                                                   
letter by  quoted earlier by Mr.  Haley.  He  maintained that                                                                   
the  current bill  was a  win/win situation  for both  public                                                                   
access  fishers  and  private  landowners.    He  noted  that                                                                   
private  landowners benefited  from  information provided  to                                                                   
the  public by  state agencies  on the  delineation of  their                                                                   
lands.   He emphasized that  private landowners  could choose                                                                   
to  charge fees  for trespass.    He also  stressed that  the                                                                   
Department  of Fish and  Game should  not be responsible  for                                                                   
trash  and  waste  removal  contracts.    He  submitted  that                                                                   
discussion about  cleanup should  not be a legislative  issue                                                                   
but rather a regulatory one.                                                                                                    
HB  210  was   heard  and  HELD  in  Committee   for  further                                                                   

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