Legislature(2015 - 2016)BARNES 124

03/30/2015 01:00 PM House RESOURCES

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Audio Topic
01:33:49 PM Start
01:35:00 PM HJR18
01:54:45 PM HB153
02:32:56 PM Confirmation(s): Fisherman's Fund Advisory and Appeals Council
02:43:08 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 1:30 p.m. Today --
Moved CSHJR 18(RES) Out of Committee
-- Invited/Public Testimony --
Moved CSHB 153(RES) Out of Committee
-- Invited/Public Testimony --
+ Confirmation Hearing: TELECONFERENCED
Fishermen's Fund Advisory & Appeals Council
-- Invited/Public Testimony --
              HB 153-PALMER HAY FLATS GAME REFUGE                                                                           
1:54:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR TALERICO  announced that the  next order of  business is                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 153, "An Act  expanding the Palmer Hay Flats State                                                               
Game Refuge."                                                                                                                   
1:55:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JIM  COLVER,  Alaska State  Legislature,  as  the                                                               
sponsor  introduced  HB  153,  explaining  it  would  expand  the                                                               
boundary of the Palmer Hay Flats  State Game Refuge.  He said the                                                               
refuge was established in 1975 by  the legislature and is an area                                                               
where the [1964] earthquake caused the  land to drop two feet, so                                                               
what was once uplands became lowlands  and wetlands.  He said the                                                               
bill simply incorporates about 1,360  acres that were donated and                                                               
acquired between  1989 and 2013.   Drawing attention to  the maps                                                               
in the  committee packet, he  said the lands with  [red hatching]                                                               
are the lands described and that  would be added to the refuge by                                                               
the bill.   He noted that  the legal description has  been vetted                                                               
four times and  reviewed by the survey section  at the Department                                                               
of  Natural Resources  (DNR).    He said  the  area is  important                                                               
habitat for  waterfowl, shorebirds,  and a  number of  species of                                                               
salmon and fish, as well as  important winter range for moose.  A                                                               
number of different user groups  use the area, including hunters,                                                               
recreationists,  and trappers,  plus there  is an  advocacy group                                                               
called Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats  State Game Refuge.  He said                                                               
there has  been no opposition  to the  bill and there  is support                                                               
from outdoor  organizations, the Board of  Game, local elementary                                                               
school kids,  and the Alaska  Department of Fish &  Game (ADF&G).                                                               
He further pointed  out that the bill has a  zero fiscal note and                                                               
that  a  proposed  committee  substitute   cleans  up  the  legal                                                               
descriptions that are in the original bill.                                                                                     
1:59:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HAWKER  moved  to adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS),  labeled 29-LS0653\H,  Bullard, 3/28/15,  as the                                                               
working  document.   There  being  no  objection, Version  H  was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
1:59:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER   explained  the  proposed   changes  that                                                               
Version H would make to the  original bill.  He drew attention to                                                               
page 2, line  15, of the original bill which  states "Section 28"                                                               
and noted that Version H, lines  15-16, clean up the language for                                                               
within  Section 28  of Township  17 North,  Range 1  East, Seward                                                               
Meridian, Lots  1-2, by  adding the north  half of  the southwest                                                               
quarter  to  the  string  of  legal  descriptions.    This  is  a                                                               
description  of some  of  the  new lands  added.    He then  drew                                                               
attention to  page 3 of  Version H, lines  11, 15, and  18, which                                                               
correctly state "U.S.  Survey No. 9023".  He  explained that this                                                               
survey  number had  transposed digits  in the  original bill  and                                                               
that  this survey  was done  for the  conveyance of  the railroad                                                               
from the federal government to the state.                                                                                       
DAVID  SCOTT,  Staff,  Representative Jim  Colver,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, added  that Legislative Legal and  Research Services                                                               
is a little  wary of these kinds of bills  and wants them double-                                                               
checked multiple times by the various state departments.                                                                        
2:02:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  inquired whether  access to  private land                                                               
would be blocked by adding the new land to the refuge.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE COLVER  replied he does  not believe so.   He said                                                               
that as  far as  he knows  there is no  limitation to  access and                                                               
moving around  within this state land.   It is simply  that it is                                                               
designated as a game refuge.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked whether any  of the refuge  land is                                                               
off limits to motorized vehicles.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER deferred  to  ADF&G, but  said he  doesn't                                                               
think so because  otherwise the Alaska Outdoor  Council would not                                                               
have  endorsed  the bill  and  the  council's letter  of  support                                                               
references this.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON specified  he wants  to be  cautious that                                                               
there is no blocking of access to private land.                                                                                 
BRUCE DALE,  Acting Director, Division of  Wildlife Conservation,                                                               
Alaska Department of  Fish & Game (ADF&G), responded  that to the                                                               
department's knowledge  there is  no access  blocked and  that is                                                               
not the  intent of the department.   There should be  free access                                                               
to any inholdings.                                                                                                              
2:04:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked  whether ADF&G or DNR  has control of                                                               
the access, rights-of-way, and winter trails.                                                                                   
MR.  DALE  answered  that  snow   machines  are  authorized  from                                                               
November  9 to  March  31 as  long as  there  is sufficient  snow                                                               
cover, and  they can go  anywhere they  want.  Four  wheelers are                                                               
authorized  on  designated trails  only  and  there are  numerous                                                               
access points.   There  are some  restrictions on  outboard motor                                                               
horsepower on some of the waterways.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said he  wants to make  it clear  that DNR                                                               
does have restrictions  for overland permits on  any wetlands and                                                               
generally it is winter compatible.                                                                                              
2:05:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  observed from the  map that the  parcel that                                                               
would  be added  on the  east side  of the  refuge has  privately                                                               
owned parcels  abutting it on the  south side.  Noting  that land                                                               
acquisition has been  ongoing for a decade or  more, she inquired                                                               
whether there  will be an  effort going  forward to try  to bring                                                               
these other private lands into the refuge.                                                                                      
MR. DALE replied  he does not know of any  efforts to bring those                                                               
particular lands into the refuge at this time.                                                                                  
2:07:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR TALERICO opened public testimony.                                                                                      
ROD  ARNO,  Executive  Director, Alaska  Outdoor  Council  (AOC),                                                               
testified  in  support of  HB  153  with  the correction  on  the                                                               
boundaries.   He noted  that this  area is on  the edge  of urban                                                               
sprawl and  for that reason  AOC supports adding  this additional                                                               
protection of  the areas that  have been acquired.   The addition                                                               
on  the west  side of  lands  up to  Cottonwood Creek  is a  very                                                               
important access point  for folks who hunt waterfowl  and fish in                                                               
the  Hay Flats  area.   This  is important  critical habitat  for                                                               
protection,  he said,  and  AOC supports  that  and supports  the                                                               
management of access on that land.                                                                                              
2:09:12 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM  ROTHE,  Duck  Hunter,  testified   in  support  of  HB  153,                                                               
explaining he is  a duck hunter and frequent Hay  Flats user.  He                                                               
urged the  committee and the  entire legislature to  support this                                                               
bill  because it  clarifies things  that have  been lingering  in                                                               
terms of  management for a number  of years.  He  is retired from                                                               
ADF&G  after  25 years  and  part  of  what  he did  for  ADF&G's                                                               
waterfowl program was  to work with refuges  and local landowners                                                               
to acquire some  of these parcels in partnership  with many other                                                               
entities.   The purpose  was largely to  provide legal  access to                                                               
the refuge.   For example, Cottonwood Creek was secured  and is a                                                               
legal access point.  The property  on the east side of the refuge                                                               
is the  primary access point  and was  private land prior  to its                                                               
acquisition.    These  parcels  have  been  really  important  in                                                               
securing easy ways for the public to  get in and ADF&G has done a                                                               
nice job  of starting  to improve  those for users.   A  total of                                                               
2,400 acres  has been  acquired since  1990 and  much of  that is                                                               
tremendous  habitat for  waterfowl, moose,  and salmon.   All  of                                                               
these acquisitions were  done pretty much without  the benefit of                                                               
appropriated funds from the state.   Partners and federal wetland                                                               
grants brought over $1.4 million to  the table for the benefit of                                                               
Alaskans.   He offered his  appreciation for  Co-Chair Talerico's                                                               
bill  for license  fee increases  [HB 137]  because the  fees for                                                               
duck stamps  are applied for these  kinds of things -  seed money                                                               
to put together  packages to get good habitat  and public access.                                                               
Mr. Rothe  pointed out that  the landowners were all  willing and                                                               
for the most part the  properties are largely unbuildable because                                                               
they are  wetlands.   So, when  approached, those  folks received                                                               
good value for their properties as  well as tax benefits in those                                                               
cases where  there were  donations.  If  included in  the refuge,                                                               
these new acquisitions  will not create any  more restrictions on                                                               
those lands than  is currently available.  The  refuge is managed                                                               
under a well-written  management plan that looks at  all the uses                                                               
that have been negotiated over  the years with the public through                                                               
the public process.  It sets  up a regime to both protect habitat                                                               
and allow  public uses.   The most  important parts of  this bill                                                               
are that it fulfills promises  made to those partners who stepped                                                               
up  and put  in  over  a million  dollars,  plus it  consolidates                                                               
management   authority   in   terms   of   enforcement,   habitat                                                               
enhancement projects, or other things.   He drew attention to the                                                               
letter of support from the Board of Game.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  HAWKER thanked  Mr.  Rothe for  his thorough  and                                                               
convincing testimony.                                                                                                           
2:14:23 PM                                                                                                                    
HERMAN GRIESE, Alaskans  for Palmer Hay Flats  State Game Refuge,                                                               
testified  in  support of  HB  153,  saying  his group  has  been                                                               
involved in the  refuge for over 10 years trying  to clean up the                                                               
trash  and car  bodies  that were  strewn  throughout the  access                                                               
points on  the refuge.   His group worked with  granting agencies                                                               
to work  with ADF&G to  improve the  access sites.   For example,                                                               
along  the Glenn  Highway  at the  Reflections  Lake turnout  his                                                               
group  is finishing  a wildlife  observation tower  that will  be                                                               
turned over to the  state.  The goal of his  group is to maintain                                                               
opportunity  for access  by hunters,  fishers,  and trappers,  as                                                               
well  as   by  children  from   local  schools   for  educational                                                               
opportunities.   Another goal  is to  maintain the  habitat value                                                               
for the wildlife and fisheries resources  on the refuge.  He said                                                               
his group  enthusiastically supports this legislation.   About 75                                                               
families  and  25  donors  are  members of  the  group  and  have                                                               
provided  many  dedicated  hours  and  about  $800,000  has  been                                                               
invested in the  refuge to try to improve the  looks, access, and                                                               
opportunities.    Mr.  Griese  pointed out  that  there  are  two                                                               
particular sites.   The primary access  site on the west  side is                                                               
at  Cottonwood  Creek  and  is   under  a  DNR  Interagency  Land                                                               
Management  Agreement  (ILMA).   Some  of  those investments  and                                                               
access are  still on that  Interagency Land  Management Agreement                                                               
(ILMA) land.   He urged that  these [ILMA] lands be  added to the                                                               
boundary, saying that  letters have been sent to  the governor in                                                               
the past  and, thanks to Mr.  Rothe, people are now  at the table                                                               
discussing that.   Another site is  on the eastern side.   It can                                                               
be seen on the map that  the boundary for the new change includes                                                               
several channels that are now dry  for the most part and it would                                                               
be  good if  a  line could  be drawn  across  those channels  and                                                               
include them as  well.  They were considered part  of an omission                                                               
in the past  because of wetland or water issues.   But things are                                                               
changing as it  is a very dynamic area and  decades down the road                                                               
more changes will be looked at as well.                                                                                         
2:18:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HAWKER,  regarding  Mr. Griese's  concerns  about                                                               
improving the  quality of access  as part of this  legislation by                                                               
bringing  in this  additional land,  asked whether  conversations                                                               
have been  held with ADF&G  or other  state folks who  would make                                                               
those recommendations to the legislature.                                                                                       
MR. GRIESE responded that his  organization has been working very                                                               
closely with ADF&G, which is  the regulatory agency on the access                                                               
for all these  sites.  He said there hasn't  been any controversy                                                               
except for  some of the  areas where  there is increasing  use of                                                               
all-terrain  vehicles on  an  existing and  allowable  trail.   A                                                               
proposal  is currently  being looked  at to  deal with  repairing                                                               
some  of  that damage,  otherwise  there  is very  close  working                                                               
cooperation with ADF&G on that.                                                                                                 
2:19:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR   inquired  whether   the  east   side  site                                                               
mentioned by Mr. Griese is a site currently under consideration.                                                                
MR. GRIESE  answered that the area  on the eastern end  is not in                                                               
the current legislation.  It has  been proposed in years past and                                                               
his  organization has  written letters  requesting that  boundary                                                               
change.   He said it's  difficult to advise  individuals entering                                                               
that eastern  side as  to where  they are  in the  refuge because                                                               
there are  islands of land  that are  in the refuge  and channels                                                               
that are not.   Now that it  is all dry there is  access in those                                                               
areas and  people wanting  to recreate there  would like  to know                                                               
whether or not they are in the refuge.                                                                                          
2:20:59 PM                                                                                                                    
LARRY ENGLE testified in support of  HB 153, saying he is a long-                                                               
time user of  the Palmer Hay Flats, including from  before it was                                                               
designated a  refuge.  He  noted that many  of the things  he was                                                               
going  to bring  up  have already  been  discussed very  clearly,                                                               
particularly  Mr. Rothe's  and Mr.  Griese's  discussions, so  he                                                               
won't go  into those details.   He  pointed out that  many people                                                               
are unaware  of HB 153,  but that  Proposal 105 submitted  to the                                                               
Board  of Game  by  Mr. Rothe  did receive  ample  review by  the                                                               
public throughout the  state.  Virtually everything  he has heard                                                               
is  positive for  adding these  fragmented lands  to the  refuge.                                                               
School  kids   have  written  letters,  as   have  organizations,                                                               
individuals,  and local  advisory  committees.   He concluded  by                                                               
reading  from  remarks  made  by  ADF&G to  the  Board  of  Game:                                                               
"Adoption of this  proposal would not result  in significant cost                                                               
to the  department.  Instead,  it may  result in cost  savings by                                                               
increasing management efficiency."                                                                                              
2:23:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  TALERICO  closed  public testimony  after  ascertaining                                                               
that  no  one  else  wished  to testify.    He  opened  committee                                                               
discussion on the bill.                                                                                                         
2:24:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER  inquired as  to what  ADF&G thinks  of the                                                               
testimony suggesting there may be  additional fragmented lands in                                                               
both  the eastern  and  western  access areas  that  ought to  be                                                               
considered for inclusion in HB 153.                                                                                             
MR.  DALE  replied that  the  division  and the  department  have                                                               
suggested legislation in  the past to include those  lands.  When                                                               
there is  inconsistency in land  ownership it makes  it difficult                                                               
for  both staff  and the  public to  know where  they are  at and                                                               
which rules apply.  Thus,  including anything within the boundary                                                               
of the refuge would be supported.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HAWKER asked  why  that wasn't  included in  this                                                               
particular bill given that legislation  has been submitted in the                                                               
MR. DALE  offered his belief  that the proposal submitted  to the                                                               
Board of Game  by Mr. Rothe did not include  additional lands and                                                               
the board voted on the proposal as written.                                                                                     
BEN  MULLIGAN,  Legislative  Liaison, Special  Assistant  to  the                                                               
Commissioner, Office  of the  Commissioner, Alaska  Department of                                                               
Fish  & Game  (ADF&G),  confirmed the  department has  considered                                                               
legislation, but explained that Mr.  Rothe's proposal was for the                                                               
lands that ADF&G  knew were firm and had been  vetted for knowing                                                               
that they are  deed restricted.  The  Interagency Land Management                                                               
Agreement (ILMA) lands are still  being discussed and are now DNR                                                               
general  state lands,  but ADF&G  hasn't  reached a  point to  be                                                               
comfortable enough to say yes for  certain and go to the sponsor,                                                               
but it is definitely a conversation that will be had.                                                                           
2:26:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER inquired whether  ADF&G is comfortable with                                                               
those additional lands at this time.                                                                                            
MR. MULLIGAN replied  not enough to suggest putting  them in now.                                                               
The department  needs to have  an internal conversation  and then                                                               
talk with the sponsor.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  HAWKER  inquired as  to  what  happened with  the                                                               
previous legislation that had proposed to do just that.                                                                         
MR.  MULLIGAN responded  that no  legislation  had actually  been                                                               
introduced, Mr.  Dale was referencing ADF&G's  own internal ideas                                                               
and not anything official into the legislature.                                                                                 
2:27:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR TALERICO stated  his intention to move  the bill, noting                                                               
that the remarks have been very positive.                                                                                       
2:29:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON moved  to report  Version H,  the proposed                                                               
committee substitute  labeled 29-LS0653\H, Bullard,  3/28/15, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying [zero] fiscal note.   There being no objection, CSHB
153(RES)  was   reported  from   the  House   Resources  Standing                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
3.30.15 HRES HB 153 - Fiscal Note.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
3.30.15 HRES HB 153 - Fish & Game overview of Palmer Hay Flats.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
3.30.15 HRES HB 153 version W.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
3.30.15 HRES HB 153 - sponsor statement.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
3.30.15 HRES HB 153 - Lands Proposed to Palmer Hay Flats Overview.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
3.30.15 HRES HB 153 - Summary of Conservation Lands Adjacent to Refuge.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
3.30.15 HRES HB 153 - Board of Game LOS.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
3.30.15 HRES HB 153 - Proposal 105 5 AAC 95.505.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Supporting Documents S.437.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Supporting Documents-KUCB News Article.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Supporting Documents-NPS Antiquities Act 1906.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Supporting Documents-Deseret News Editorial.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Supporting Documents-Legislation and Policy Article.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Supporting Documents-S 437 News Release.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Supporting Documents -NPCA National Monuments List.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Sponsor Statement.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Version H.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES Fishermen's Fund Advisory & Appeals Council - Alaska Statutes 23.35.010.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HRES Fisherman's Fund Advisory & Appeals Council - Donald Stiles Resume.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HJR 18 Fiscal Note.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
3.30.15 HRES HB 153 - Letter of Support Friends of the ANchorage Coastal Wildlife Rfuge.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
3.30.15 HRES CSHB 153 - Working draft.pdf HRES 3/30/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 153