Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

04/08/2009 01:00 PM House RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHJR 25(ENE) Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 210(RES) Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
<Pending Referral>
HB 210-IZEMBEK STATE GAME REFUGE LAND EXCHANGE                                                                                
1:06:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO.  210, "An Act  designating Kinzarof  Lagoon as                                                               
part  of  the  Izembek  State Game  Refuge;  authorizing  a  land                                                               
exchange  with  the  federal  government   in  which  state  land                                                               
adjacent to the  Izembek National Wildlife Refuge  and within the                                                               
Alaska  Peninsula  National  Wildlife  Refuge  is  exchanged  for                                                               
federal  land to  serve as  a road  corridor through  the Izembek                                                               
National  Wildlife Refuge  and federal  land located  on Sitkinak                                                               
Island; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                   
1:06:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON, sponsor of HB 210, paraphrased from the                                                                  
following written sponsor statement [original punctuation                                                                       
     On  March  30th  President  Obama  signed  the  Omnibus                                                                    
     Public Lands Management Act of  2009. This act includes                                                                    
     Congressional approval for a  land exchange between the                                                                    
     State of Alaska  and the federal government  to allow a                                                                    
     single-lane, unpaved road  through the Izembek National                                                                    
     Wildlife Refuge,  connecting the  village of  King Cove                                                                    
     to the Cold Bay airport.                                                                                                   
     HB  210   will  grant  state  authorization   for  that                                                                    
     However, it  is important to  note that at  the federal                                                                    
     level there are still two  major processes that need to                                                                    
     be completed  before this  transaction is  final. These                                                                    
     are   the  completion   of   an  environmental   impact                                                                    
     statement  and  a  finding  by  the  Secretary  of  the                                                                    
     Interior determining  that the land exchange  is in the                                                                    
     public interest.                                                                                                           
     HB 210 therefore does more  than execute at state level                                                                    
     the transaction endorsed by  Congress; it also provides                                                                    
     compelling evidence  to the  Secretary of  the Interior                                                                    
     that the State of Alaska  approves of this agreement to                                                                    
     establish dependable access for  King Cove residents to                                                                    
     the Cold  Bay airport  primarily for health  and safety                                                                    
     In   the    agreement,   the   State    will   transfer                                                                    
     approximately  43,000  acres  of  land  in  the  Alaska                                                                    
     Peninsula  National  Wildlife  Refuge  to  the  federal                                                                    
     government in exchange for  approximately 206 acres for                                                                    
     the road  corridor. The legislation also  agrees to the                                                                    
     receipt  of  1600  acres of  federal  land  located  on                                                                    
     Sitkinak  Island  to the  State  and  provides for  the                                                                    
     designation of  Kinzarof Lagoon as part  of the Izembek                                                                    
     State Game Refuge.                                                                                                         
     The residents  of King Cove and  Aleutians East Borough                                                                    
     have strived toward  this goal for more  than a decade.                                                                    
     The  King  Cove  Corporation   has  agreed  to  provide                                                                    
     approximately  19,000 acres  of its  ANCSA land  to the                                                                    
     federal  government,  at  no  cost,  as  part  of  this                                                                    
     exchange.  The Alaska  Department of  Natural Resources                                                                    
     supports    the    transaction.   Senator    Murkowski,                                                                    
     Congressman  Young,  and  former Senator  Stevens  have                                                                    
     championed  this endeavor  at  the  federal level  over                                                                    
     many years. Senator Begich also backs the plan.                                                                            
     It is now the State of  Alaska's role to take this next                                                                    
     important step. I respectfully ask  for your support in                                                                    
     concluding  this   agreement  while  also   sending  an                                                                    
     important  message to  the  Secretary  of the  Interior                                                                    
     that  Alaska endorses  this exchange  and  all that  it                                                                    
     entails  for the  improved safety  and quality  of life                                                                    
     for citizens in Southwestern Alaska.                                                                                       
1:09:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  called attention  to the maps  included in                                                               
the committee  packets.   He explained  that the  parcels labeled                                                               
one and  two are  the 43,000  acres of state  land that  would be                                                               
transferred to  the U.S. Fish  & Wildlife Service to  become part                                                               
of the  Izembek National Wildlife  Refuge.  He  further explained                                                               
that to  the left of where  it says "hovercraft site"  on the map                                                               
is a  tidal area that  would also  be transferred to  the federal                                                               
government because of its habitat importance to birds.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  noted that HB  210 has a zero  fiscal note                                                               
and an  immediate effective date.   He  also pointed out  that if                                                               
the federal  government stumbles and  does not complete  the land                                                               
exchange, HB 210 provides that  all of the aforementioned actions                                                               
would become null  and void and land ownership  would be returned                                                               
to what it is today.                                                                                                            
1:12:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  inquired whether parcels three,  four, and                                                               
five on  the map would  also be added  to the refuge  in exchange                                                               
for the road corridor.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON replied that these  parcels are part of the                                                               
overall exchange package but are  not addressed by HB 210 because                                                               
there  is  no  need  to  have the  state  involved  in  the  land                                                               
transaction.  For example, parcels  four and five, totaling about                                                               
10,000 acres  and belonging to  the King Cove  Corporation, would                                                               
become  part of  the Izembek  National Wildlife  Refuge, but  the                                                               
transaction  is between  the corporation  and the  U.S. Fish  and                                                               
Wildlife Service.                                                                                                               
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN  announced that  there is a  video on  this issue                                                               
available for people to watch.                                                                                                  
1:15:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON moved  to  adopt Amendment  1, which  read                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     Page 5, Lines 8 and 9:                                                                                                     
          Delete: "constructing a single-lane road"                                                                             
          Insert: "a corridor for the construction and                                                                          
          operation of a road"                                                                                                  
     Page 5, line 9:                                                                                                            
          After "Cold Bay, Alaska,"                                                                                             
          Insert: "in accordance with the Omnibus Public                                                                        
          Land Management Act of 2009, H.R. 146, 111 Cong.                                                                      
          (2009) (enacted),"                                                                                                    
Thus, page 5, lines 8 and 9, would read:                                                                                        
     within  the Izembek  National Wildlife  Refuge for  the                                                                    
     purpose  of   a  corridor  for  the   construction  and                                                                    
     operation  of a  road between  the communities  of King                                                                    
     Cove  and  Cold Bay,  Alaska,  in  accordance with  the                                                                    
     Omnibus Public  Land Management Act of  2009, H.R. 146,                                                                    
     111 Cong. (2009) (enacted), described as follows:                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI objected.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON objected for discussion purposes.                                                                         
1:15:21 PM                                                                                                                    
Timothy Clark,  Staff, Representative Bryce Edgmon,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  explained   that  Amendment   1  is   a  conforming                                                               
amendment  that would  make the  language  in HB  210 track  more                                                               
closely with federal act which  clarifies that the state receives                                                               
a corridor that allows the  construction and operation of a road.                                                               
This would remove any ambiguity, he said.                                                                                       
1:16:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG asked  whether  a  description of  the                                                               
road  is  defined anywhere,  given  that  the difference  between                                                               
constructing a single lane road and a corridor is considerable.                                                                 
MR. CLARK answered that a decision  on where the road is actually                                                               
located will  be partly  determined on the  federal level  by the                                                               
environmental impact  statement (EIS).   He said the  federal act                                                               
details  the features  that  will be  allowed,  such as  corridor                                                               
width  and   safety  pullouts,  and  Amendment   1  is  therefore                                                               
generalized   to   some  extent.      In   further  response   to                                                               
Representative  Guttenberg, Mr.  Clark reiterated  that the  road                                                               
features are detailed in the federal act.                                                                                       
1:17:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  inquired whether  a copy of  the federal                                                               
act is available.                                                                                                               
MR. CLARK said he would provide a photocopy.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  asked  Mr.   Dick  Mylius  for  further                                                               
explanation of why Amendment 1 is necessary.                                                                                    
DICK  MYLIUS,  Director,  Division  of Mining,  Land  and  Water,                                                               
Department of Natural Resources, responded  that he does not have                                                               
the  amendment  before  him,  but he  does  have  testimony  that                                                               
elaborates on why the legislation is needed.                                                                                    
1:19:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  NEUMAN requested  Mr. Mylius  to present  his testimony                                                               
and  address  the  federal  act  in  relation  to  Representative                                                               
Kawasaki's question.                                                                                                            
MR. MYLIUS stated  that under AS 38.50 the  Department of Natural                                                               
Resources  (DNR) is  responsible for  conducting land  exchanges.                                                               
There are  two reasons  why HB  210 is  before the  committee, he                                                               
continued.  First,  Alaska's statutes allow the  department to do                                                               
land exchanges  if they are  equal appraised value;  however, the                                                               
department  does not  believe this  to be  an equal  exchange and                                                               
therefore needs the legislature's  approval.  Second, a provision                                                               
in the proposed exchange would  add certain state-owned tidelands                                                               
and submerged  lands to the  Izembek State Game Refuge,  which is                                                               
part of the deal that  the department negotiated with the federal                                                               
1:20:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MYLIUS  explained that several  years ago the  Aleutians East                                                               
Borough, City  of King  Cove, and  King Cove  Village Corporation                                                               
requested  the  governor's  office  and  DNR  to  pursue  a  land                                                               
exchange to enable  construction of the road  because the current                                                               
situation  of  using  a  hovercraft  does  not  provide  a  safe,                                                               
economical, long-term solution to King  Cove's access needs.  The                                                               
exchange before  the committee was developed  through discussions                                                               
between  the  U.S.  Fish  and  Wildlife  Service,  DNR,  and  the                                                               
corporation,  city, and  borough.   It was  recognized that  both                                                               
state and  federal legislation would  be needed, but  the biggest                                                               
hurdle was getting approval through  the U.S. Congress.  The land                                                               
exchange was  originally separate legislation introduced  in 2007                                                               
by Senator  [Lisa] Murkowski and Representative  Young.  Governor                                                               
Palin wrote letters  in support of the legislation  and the state                                                               
testified in support of the  bill before the U.S. House Committee                                                               
on Natural Resources.   In late 2008, the land  exchange bill was                                                               
rolled  into  the  federal  omnibus  bill  which  was  passed  by                                                               
Congress and then signed by President Obama in March [2009].                                                                    
1:22:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MYLIUS further explained:                                                                                                   
     In  putting together  the exchange  it  was clear  that                                                                    
     because of  the unique  wildlife and  wilderness values                                                                    
     of the  refuge that were  being crossed by the  road, a                                                                    
     simple  fair  market  value  land  exchange  would  not                                                                    
     adequately address the  wilderness values, the public's                                                                    
     concern  over  those  values, as  well  as  the  public                                                                    
     safety  concerns of  residents  of King  Cove and  Cold                                                                    
     Bay.  And as a result  what we have is an unequal value                                                                    
     land exchange  that requires your  approval.   In terms                                                                    
     of the parcels  of land ... that  require approval, the                                                                    
     state is  proposing to  acquire 206  acres in  the road                                                                    
     corridor and 1600 acres of  land on Sitkinak Island, an                                                                    
     island located south of Kodiak,  which ... is primarily                                                                    
     state  land  and  borough  land,   but  has  a  federal                                                                    
     inholding  which  is  what the  ...  legislation  would                                                                    
     allow us to acquire through the exchange.                                                                                  
1:22:45 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  MYLIUS said  there are  also some  Native corporation  lands                                                               
that would  be part  of the  package going to  the U.S.  Fish and                                                               
Wildlife  Service,  but  these  do  not  need  the  legislature's                                                               
approval.   The  state  would be  trading to  the  U.S. Fish  and                                                               
Wildlife  Service about  two townships  of land  that are  on the                                                               
flanks  of Pavlof  Volcano adjacent  to the  wildlife refuge  and                                                               
which  have high  wildlife values,  particularly for  caribou and                                                               
brown bear.   Additions to the  state game refuge are  also being                                                               
proposed,  he  continued.    These additions  are  lands  in  the                                                               
Kinzarof Lagoon area at the head  of Cold Bay which have resource                                                               
values  similar to  Izembek Lagoon,  including valuable  eelgrass                                                               
beds  that are  critical to  waterfowl that  migrate through  the                                                               
area and live in the area.                                                                                                      
MR.  MYLIUS specified  that the  two actions  the legislature  is                                                               
being asked to approve are  the unequal-value land exchange where                                                               
the two townships  of state land would be traded  to get the road                                                               
corridor  and land  on Sitkinak  Island, and  the designation  of                                                               
about 4,000  acres of  state land  as part  of the  Izembek State                                                               
Game Refuge.                                                                                                                    
1:24:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN reminded  members that Amendment 1  is before the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  understood that inserting "a  corridor for                                                               
the  construction  and  operation  of a  road"  would  allow  for                                                               
turnouts  and  passing  which  would   not  violate  the  federal                                                               
standards of a single lane road.                                                                                                
MR.  MYLIUS  agreed,  saying   the  department  understands  that                                                               
Amendment 1 does  not conflict with the  federal requirement that                                                               
it be a one-lane road.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON withdrew  his  objection  to Amendment  1.                                                               
[Representative Kawasaki's  objection was treated  as withdrawn.]                                                               
There being no further objection, Amendment 1 was passed.                                                                       
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN opened public testimony.                                                                                        
1:26:22 PM                                                                                                                    
STANLEY  MACK, Mayor,  Aleutians East  Borough, pointed  out that                                                               
one of his  primary responsibilities as mayor is  to help improve                                                               
the quality of life for the  2700 residents of the Aleutians East                                                               
Borough, and safe and dependable  transportation access is one of                                                               
the most important  of these qualities.  He supported  HB 210 and                                                               
thanked the state  for its steadfast support  and assistance with                                                               
the land exchange  so that a single lane road  can be constructed                                                               
to connect the village of King Cove with the Cold Bay airport.                                                                  
MAYOR MACK stated that having been  born and raised in King Cove,                                                               
he  has firsthand  knowledge of  the difficulties  of getting  to                                                               
Cold Bay.   He explained that King Cove's hope  for access to the                                                               
Cold Bay  airport was dashed 35  years ago when a  portion of the                                                               
Izembek National Wildlife Refuge  between the two communities was                                                               
declared  Wilderness  without  consultation with  the  indigenous                                                               
residents.    He  said  this   proposed  land  exchange  provides                                                               
optimism that  a road link can  now occur after decades  of long,                                                               
hard work.                                                                                                                      
1:28:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN inquired  whether people's lives are  on the line                                                               
if HB 210 is not passed this year.                                                                                              
MAYOR MACK replied,  "Every day."  He explained  that the airport                                                               
in  King  Cove  cannot  be improved  safety-wise  because  it  is                                                               
subject  to   high  prevailing  winds  from   the  northwest  and                                                               
southeast.   A local carrier,  Peninsula Airways, has  a standing                                                               
order that  no planes can come  in when winds are  above 35 miles                                                               
per hour.  When  this happens the only other option  is to take a                                                               
boat  to Cold  Bay which  is a  very uncomfortable  trip in  such                                                               
weather.  He said that while  working in Cold Bay he once watched                                                               
a medivac in a  110-foot crab boat that could not  make it to the                                                               
dock in  Cold Bay because  of weather conditions and  the patient                                                               
was  unable  to  be  evacuated   until  the  next  day.    Eleven                                                               
fatalities  have occurred  en route  by plane  to Cold  Bay, plus                                                               
many that never  made it out of King Cove  because of the weather                                                               
1:32:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI asked  how many people live  in King Cove                                                               
and Cold Bay.                                                                                                                   
MAYOR  MACK responded  that Cold  Bay  varies from  time to  time                                                               
because  it is  a transient  community, but  right now  there are                                                               
about 60  people.  He  said he  believes there are  about 800-900                                                               
permanent  residents in  King Cove  with an  increase to  1500 or                                                               
more during the cannery season.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  inquired why the  triangular-shaped area                                                               
[North  Creek  Unit] adjacent  to  parcels  one  and two  is  not                                                               
included as part of the exchange.                                                                                               
MAYOR MACK  answered that he  does not  know but the  state would                                                               
1:33:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI asked  whether any  people lived  in the                                                               
[North Creek Unit].                                                                                                             
MAYOR MACK replied no, the  area is perfect wilderness.  However,                                                               
he  continued, that  is not  the  case further  east because  the                                                               
military was there and created  a network of roads throughout the                                                               
wilderness and  the refuge.   In  further response,  he clarified                                                               
that by "further east" he meant parcels one and two.                                                                            
1:34:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOHNSON  inquired as  to how much  land is  being traded                                                               
for the road.                                                                                                                   
MAYOR MACK  responded that  he thinks the  total amount  is about                                                               
64,000 acres.   In further response, he clarified  that the state                                                               
is trading 22,498 acres in parcel  one and 22,498 acres in parcel                                                               
two for  a total of  about 44,000 acres,  and the rest  is coming                                                               
from the King Cove Corporation.                                                                                                 
1:35:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOHNSON commented  that  "someone is  getting a  really                                                               
good deal."                                                                                                                     
MAYOR MACK agreed.                                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  JOHNSON further  commented that  King Cove  Corporation                                                               
and  the  state are  making  a  tremendous sacrifice  for  public                                                               
safety and such a lopsided trade is a travesty.                                                                                 
MAYOR MACK  concurred.  He  said Mr. Dale  Hall of the  U.S. Fish                                                               
and Wildlife Service was a  very strong negotiator.  He explained                                                               
that parcel  three [Mortensen's Lagoon]  was the crown  jewel and                                                               
the turning  point in  getting the  federal government  to accept                                                               
the land exchange for the road  corridor.  The corporation had to                                                               
do whatever it took to make this happen.                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR JOHNSON clarified that he  is not opposing what Mr. Mack                                                               
has done and  is applauding him for the sacrifice  being made for                                                               
the citizens of his community.                                                                                                  
1:38:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON  added  that   when  the  Alaska  National                                                               
Interest Lands Conservation  Act (ANILCA) passed in  1980, it was                                                               
envisioned  that there  would be  transportation  routes at  some                                                               
point in  time.  He agreed  with Co-Chair Johnson that  the state                                                               
and King Cove Corporation are  paying an extremely high price for                                                               
a  sliver  of  land  through  a  refuge  area  that  already  has                                                               
approximately 35  miles of existing  roads from the World  War II                                                               
era.  Active hunting and transport  are already taking place in a                                                               
good part of the refuge, he added.                                                                                              
MAYOR MACK agreed.                                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  NEUMAN asked  whether Mr.  Mack felt  the state  worked                                                               
with him in a cooperative manner.                                                                                               
MAYOR MACK  responded that  he took office  as mayor  seven years                                                               
ago and  this was  a prior,  ongoing issue.   He  understood that                                                               
when U.S.  Senator Frank Murkowski became  governor, he contacted                                                               
people in King Cove and told them  more work needed to be done to                                                               
get the issue accomplished.                                                                                                     
1:40:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOHNSON stated  that if this were not a  life and safety                                                               
issue,  he would  fight the  lopsidedness and  unfairness of  the                                                               
exchange.   He said he does  not want this to  be misconstrued as                                                               
any  concession on  the  part of  the state  in  giving up  state                                                               
rights in regard to right-of-ways.                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  NEUMAN  agreed  and  proffered   that  there  was  some                                                               
question  as  to  whether  DNR  listens to  the  needs  of  state                                                               
residents, but that this would be addressed on another day.                                                                     
1:42:42 PM                                                                                                                    
ERNEST WEISS,  Mayor, City of King  Cove, stated that there  is a                                                               
major  problem with  safe and  predictable transportation  access                                                               
between his community  and the Cold Bay airport,  which is served                                                               
daily from  Anchorage.   He said  he supports HB  210 in  part to                                                               
help  solve  his  community's  access problem  to  the  Cold  Bay                                                               
airport.   During  his 25  years of  living in  King Cove  he has                                                               
witnessed the fear  and frustration that results  from not having                                                               
a safe, dependable, and predictable means  to get to the Cold Bay                                                               
airport.  He  explained that in about 30-40 percent  of the times                                                               
he has tried  to get to the  Cold Bay airport, he  has either not                                                               
gotten there  or not arrived in  a timely or routine  manner.  On                                                               
behalf  of King  Cove's 800  residents, he  thanked the  State of                                                               
Alaska for its continuing support on this issue.                                                                                
[Co-Chair Neuman passed the gavel to Co-Chair Johnson.]                                                                         
1:44:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK inquired how  long the land-swap negotiations                                                               
have been going on.                                                                                                             
MAYOR  WEISS  replied  that  "Round   One"  ended  in  compromise                                                               
legislation  in 1998  in which  the solution  was the  hovercraft                                                               
that does  not work.  After  that, Frank Murkowski, as  both U.S.                                                               
senator and  governor, worked with  the two townships and  it has                                                               
been ongoing  ever since.   The  Department of  Natural Resources                                                               
has been very cooperative, he  continued, and the State of Alaska                                                               
has  been  very helpful  under  Governor  Murkowski and  Governor                                                               
[Co-Chair Johnson returned the gavel to Co-Chair Neuman.]                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON commented that he  has had the challenge of                                                               
travelling this area and it can be a terrifying flight.                                                                         
CO-CHAIR JOHNSON asked where opposition  to the exchange has come                                                               
MAYOR WEISS  answered that  this proposed  road would  go through                                                               
designated Wilderness and opposition  has come from environmental                                                               
groups that believe the road  will disrupt the flight patterns of                                                               
Black Brandt.  "We believe that is not true," he said.                                                                          
1:47:21 PM                                                                                                                    
DELLA TRUMBLE,  King Cove Corporation,  noted that she is  not at                                                               
the hearing in  person because she was unable to  get out of King                                                               
Cove last Friday.  She  introduced the numerous people present in                                                               
the  room  with   her:    representatives  from   the  King  Cove                                                               
Corporation and  King Cove  City Council, as  well as  elders and                                                               
others from  the community.   She  said she  has been  working on                                                               
this issue for over  25 years and will not quit  until there is a                                                               
safe road  link to the Cold  Bay airport.  Ms.  Trumble supported                                                               
HB 210.   Having  lived in  King Cove since  birth, she  said she                                                               
knows firsthand  about the  challenges in  reaching the  Cold Bay                                                               
airport due  to weather and  the precarious location of  the King                                                               
Cove airstrip,  a situation that  has brought countless  times of                                                               
misery and hardship to residents.                                                                                               
MS. TRUMBLE  stated that  giving up  approximately 20  percent of                                                               
King  Cove   Corporation's  aboriginal   lands  to   the  federal                                                               
government was a very difficult  decision, but it was reluctantly                                                               
accepted as  the price for having  a modest road to  the Cold Bay                                                               
airport  through  the  Izembek  refuge.   She  said  the  federal                                                               
government  and  others have  ignored  the  fact that  her  Aleut                                                               
ancestors have  lived in this  area for 4,000 years,  long before                                                               
the refuge even  had a name.  However, she  continued, it is time                                                               
to move forward  into the future and road access  to the Cold Bay                                                               
airport  will  greatly enhance  personal  safety  and quality  of                                                               
1:51:32 PM                                                                                                                    
RANDALL  HAGENSTEIN,  Executive  Director,  Alaska  Chapter,  The                                                               
Nature  Conservancy,  pointed  out  that the  refuge  area  is  a                                                               
globally  important wetland  complex  that is  recognized by  its                                                               
codification  as  a federal  wildlife  refuge  and a  state  game                                                               
refuge.    He  said  there  are a  number  of  small  state-owned                                                               
properties  within Izembek  Lagoon, Morzhovoi  Bay, and  Bechevin                                                               
Bay with  high value for  waterfowl that were  inadvertently left                                                               
out  of the  original bill  that created  the state  game refuge.                                                               
Addition of these lands to the  state game refuge would not bring                                                               
HB 210 out of compliance with  the federal omnibus bill and would                                                               
not  require a  change in  land  ownership, he  continued.   This                                                               
would create  a stronger conservation  component to the  bill and                                                               
would improve  the protection  of globally  significant waterfowl                                                               
1:53:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN understood that Mr.  Hagenstein would like to add                                                               
more  land  in  addition  to  the  land  that  is  already  being                                                               
MR. HAGENSTEIN  responded that his  suggestion would  not require                                                               
any change  in land ownership as  it is existing state  land that                                                               
would  remain state  land.   The land  would just  be moved  into                                                               
management under the state game refuge.                                                                                         
1:54:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  NEUMAN  surmised  that   under  laws  governing  refuge                                                               
management  this  would prevent  development  and  other uses  by                                                               
community members.                                                                                                              
MR.  HAGENSTEIN  explained that  these  areas  are already  being                                                               
managed for fish and wildlife  under the current state management                                                               
plan, and  this management  would just  be codified  by including                                                               
these lands in the state game refuge.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  recounted that this issue  has been batted                                                               
back and  forth with no action  taken throughout his 20  years of                                                               
working in  the legislature.   By  any measure  it is  a lopsided                                                               
transaction,  he  continued.   Given  that  the people  of  these                                                               
communities   have  spent   all  these   years  trying   to  make                                                               
construction of this  road happen, he cannot  support changing HB
210, he said.                                                                                                                   
1:56:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI requested  Mr. Hagenstein  to point  out                                                               
where these areas are on a map.                                                                                                 
MR. HAGENSTEIN  walked to the  large map  posted on the  wall and                                                               
pointed out the areas.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI asked  Mr.  Hagenstein  to describe  the                                                               
areas in  parcels one and two.   He also requested  a description                                                               
of the  North Creek Unit,  located west  of parcels one  and two,                                                               
and asked why it was not included in the exchange.                                                                              
MR.  HAGENSTEIN answered  that he  does not  know why  the [North                                                               
Creek Unit] was  left out of the exchange as  he was not involved                                                               
with that.  He said he has flown  over the area and guesses it is                                                               
general upland  tundra pockmarked with lakes  and wetlands, which                                                               
is good bear and caribou habitat.                                                                                               
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN stated that the  King Cove city administrator has                                                               
flown  to Juneau  for this  hearing and  will be  able to  answer                                                               
Representative Kawasaki's question.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI inquired  whether Mr. Hagenstein believes                                                               
this exchange is a fair trade given the unequal land values.                                                                    
MR.  HAGENSTEIN   replied  that  the  habitat   values  are  very                                                               
different  and the  land designation  is different  in those  two                                                               
areas, and politics  being the art of the  possible suggests that                                                               
sometimes that  sort of transaction  needs to take place  to meet                                                               
the art of the possible.                                                                                                        
2:00:57 PM                                                                                                                    
GARY HENNIGH, City  Administrator, City of King  Cove, noted that                                                               
he has  been King Cove's  city administrator for about  20 years.                                                               
He said Mayor  Mack correctly described parcels one  and two, the                                                               
original tracts  that the  state put  on the  table to  start the                                                               
process.  There  is no human habitation there now  and never will                                                               
be, he continued, except for  the military intrusion during World                                                               
War II.   The  areas meet the  textbook definition  of wilderness                                                               
where man passes through but has no business of staying.                                                                        
MR. HENNIGH noted that over the  past few years Mayor Mack, Mayor                                                               
Weiss,  Ms.  Trumble, and  he  have  spent  half their  lives  in                                                               
Washington, DC,  putting together this  deal.  What was  given up                                                               
is unfair, he  said, but it is the political  price for something                                                               
that should never  have been taken away in the  first place.  The                                                               
Alaska Delegation,  Governor Murkowski,  and Governor  Palin have                                                               
helped over  the past  10 years  to further  the cause  of making                                                               
life a  little bit easier for  the 800 residents of  King Cove by                                                               
having this  access to the Cold  Bay airport.  This  is the right                                                               
thing for  the people of  King Cove, the federal  government, and                                                               
the  King Cove  Corporation, he  stressed,  and it  is the  right                                                               
thing for the State of Alaska to endorse despite the inequity.                                                                  
CO-CHAIR  NEUMAN  commented  that   it  is  frustrating  to  have                                                               
congressional  members from  other  states figuring  out what  is                                                               
best for Alaskan communities like King Cove.                                                                                    
2:04:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  asked  whether  Mr.  Hennigh  could  answer                                                               
Representative  Kawasaki's question  about why  the [North  Creek                                                               
Unit] was left out of the exchange.                                                                                             
MR.  HENNIGH  said he  does  not  recollect why  that  particular                                                               
parcel of land  was not part of the original  offer, but that Mr.                                                               
Mylius might know.  Upon  becoming governor, Frank Murkowski told                                                               
the city, borough,  and corporation that he was  going to revisit                                                               
the issue  by having the  state put  together a land  proposal to                                                               
take to  the U.S. Department of  the Interior.  [Parcels  one and                                                               
two]  constituted the  proposal that  Governor Murkowski  brought                                                               
forward in  2003 or 2004.   During discussions on  this proposal,                                                               
the [North  Creek Unit] never came  up as an issue.   Mr. Hennigh                                                               
added that it  is all special land because it  is wilderness, but                                                               
that he is not personally aware  of anything so special about the                                                               
[North Creek Unit] that it could  not have been part of this deal                                                               
had someone wanted it to be part of the deal.                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN announced that maps will be e-mailed to members.                                                                
2:06:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  understood that the North  Creek Unit is                                                               
uninhabited and has no recreational cabins.                                                                                     
MR. HENNIGH shook his head in agreement.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  said his preference  would be to  have a                                                               
contiguous  area added  to  the refuge  by  including the  [North                                                               
Creek Unit] in the exchange.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON  offered  his  belief  that  the  land  is                                                               
already  in protected  status.   He  said  the member's  question                                                               
could be turned  around by asking why it is  not 20,000 or 10,000                                                               
acres instead  of 43,000.  He  pointed out that most  of the land                                                               
is  mountainous,  uninhabitable,  and inaccessible  even  with  a                                                               
MR.  HENNIGH agreed  that there  is  no human  habitation in  the                                                               
[North Creek Unit].   He suggested that Mr. Mylius  be allowed to                                                               
address this question.                                                                                                          
2:10:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI reiterated  his question  to Mr.  Mylius                                                               
regarding parcels  one and two  and the  North Creek Unit  to the                                                               
west of them that was not included in the exchange.                                                                             
MR. MYLIEUS  replied that the  [North Creek Unit] belongs  to the                                                               
Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife  Refuge.  The area immediately                                                               
east  of  the  two  parcels is  also  Alaska  Peninsula  National                                                               
Wildlife  Refuge,  he  said,  and  one of  the  reasons  the  two                                                               
townships were  picked is  because they  are surrounded  on three                                                               
sides by refuge lands.                                                                                                          
2:11:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  surmised  that the  two  townships  are                                                               
state-owned lands.                                                                                                              
MR. MYLIEUS responded correct.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  asked whether  any studies were  done on                                                               
the value of  those lands and whether they have  oil or gas since                                                               
that would make the state wish it had kept those lands.                                                                         
MR.  MYLIEUS answered  that no  specific studies  were done,  but                                                               
there were  consultations with his  division's mining  folks, the                                                               
Division  of Geological  & Geophysical  Surveys, the  Division of                                                               
Oil  & Gas,  and the  Alaska Department  of Fish  & Game,  and no                                                               
values were  identified.  Potential  offshore oil and  gas basins                                                               
dip very quickly offshore just  north of this area, he explained,                                                               
and  no one  ever  bid on  this  parcel when  it  was offered  in                                                               
several  previous   sales.    He   related  that,   according  to                                                               
geologists, interest  in oil and gas  is on the lands  further to                                                               
the  north because  the geology  of parcels  one and  two is  not                                                               
conducive to oil and gas.                                                                                                       
2:13:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   KAWASAKI,   in   regard  to   Mr.   Hagenstein's                                                               
suggestion to include  other state lands, asked  whether it would                                                               
be better to have those areas be contiguous within the refuge.                                                                  
MR. MYLIEUS  said he  has not  seen the  specific areas  that The                                                               
Nature  Conservancy is  requesting, but  he does  know there  are                                                               
some lands that in the past  the Alaska Department of Fish & Game                                                               
has expressed interest in for adding  to the refuge.  However, he                                                               
continued,  those were  not part  of  the division's  discussions                                                               
with the  U.S. Fish  and Wildlife Service,  so the  commitment in                                                               
terms  of  the  land  exchange   and  dealing  with  the  federal                                                               
government  was  just  to  add Kinzarof  Lagoon  to  the  Izembek                                                               
National   Wildlife  Refuge.      Other  parcels   that  may   be                                                               
housekeeping measures that need to get  done at some point in the                                                               
future were not part of the discussions.                                                                                        
2:14:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI reiterated  his  question about  whether                                                               
Mr.  Mylius would  prefer  to  have the  lands  suggested by  Mr.                                                               
Hagenstein be part of the  contiguous refuge as opposed to parcel                                                               
MR.  MYLIEUS responded  that he  thinks the  lands Representative                                                               
Kawasaki is talking  about are already state lands  that are just                                                               
not  in the  state  game refuge.    He said  the  parcels are  in                                                               
Izembek Lagoon itself  and are such relatively  small tracts that                                                               
he  cannot envision  any  uses that  would  be incompatible  with                                                               
either the state game refuge or the federal wildlife refuge.                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOHNSON opined that there  are certain groups that would                                                               
like to  have a  continuous park stretching  over the  state from                                                               
Ketchikan to Barrow and it offends  him to even talk about giving                                                               
up more state land.                                                                                                             
2:16:34 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK understood that the  North Creek Unit and the                                                               
Pavlof Unit  are part of  the Alaska Peninsula  National Wildlife                                                               
Refuge, but  that the two tracts  in between are not  part of the                                                               
national wildlife refuge.                                                                                                       
MR.  MYLIEUS answered  correct,  the two  tracts  in between  are                                                               
state-owned  lands   that  stick  into  the   [Alaska  Peninsula]                                                               
National Wildlife Refuge.   The North Creek and  Pavlof units are                                                               
not designated  Wilderness, he  specified, but  they are  part of                                                               
the  [Alaska  Peninsula]  National   Wildlife  Refuge.    To  the                                                               
southwest is part  of the Izembek National  Wildlife Refuge which                                                               
is designated Wilderness.                                                                                                       
2:17:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON pointed out that  before the committee is a                                                               
deal that has  been negotiated between the state  and the federal                                                               
government  to secure  life and  safety issues  for a  community.                                                               
Some of  these other  issues are about  changing state  land from                                                               
one designation to  another designation of state  land, which has                                                               
nothing to do with the negotiated  deal.  He urged that these two                                                               
issues be dealt with separately.                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN agreed.  He closed public testimony on HB 210.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  stated that  he is  not a  "greenie" and                                                               
does  not   mean  to  offend  the   co-chairman  from  Anchorage.                                                               
However, he  continued, it just  seems practical to get  the best                                                               
possible deal  for state lands  that are managed like  state game                                                               
refuge but are not  part of the game refuge.   He urged that this                                                               
be  considered whether  as part  of HB  210 or  another act.   He                                                               
asked whether the land north of tract one is state land.                                                                        
MR. MYLIEUS replied yes.                                                                                                        
2:21:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  agreed with Representative Seaton.   There                                                               
may  be a  legitimate need  for what  Representative Kawasaki  is                                                               
suggesting  in  regard to  designated  status,  he said,  but  it                                                               
should be  taken up  as a  separate issue.   The bill  before the                                                               
committee  is the  end product  of 20  years of  fighting by  the                                                               
community of King Cove.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  said he will  object if HB 210  is moved                                                               
out  of committee  because  he did  not  receive the  information                                                               
until recently and the maps until earlier this afternoon.                                                                       
CO-CHAIR NEUMAN responded  that HB 210 has been  noticed for more                                                               
than a week.                                                                                                                    
2:23:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOHNSON moved  to report  HB  210, as  amended, out  of                                                               
committee with  any individual  recommendations and  the attached                                                               
[zero] fiscal note.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI objected.                                                                                               
A  roll call  vote  was taken.    Representatives Wilson,  Olson,                                                               
Seaton, Edgmon,  Guttenberg, Tuck,  Neuman, and Johnson  voted in                                                               
favor  of reporting  HB  210 out  of  committee.   Representative                                                               
Kawasaki voted  against it.   Therefore, HB 210 was  reported out                                                               
of the House Resources Standing Committee by a vote of 8-1.                                                                     
The committee took an at-ease from 2:24 P.M. to 2:27 P.M.                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects