Legislature(2015 - 2016)BARNES 124
04/10/2015 01:00 PM House RESOURCES
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HJR 20-FISH & WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT BY STATES 1:41:29 PM VICE CHAIR HAWKER announced that the next order of business is HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 20, Urging the United States Congress to enact legislation to clarify and recognize each individual state's authority to manage the fish and wildlife within its borders. 1:41:51 PM REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN, sponsor, introduced HJR 20, saying it encourages Congress to pass legislation that would clarify each individual state's authority to manage the fish and game resources within its boundary. Alaska has a history of successfully managing its fish and game resources and their habitats. Alaska has even restored the depleted fishery stocks that were received from the federal government at the time of statehood. Alaska has used its resources wisely calling on the different experiences of its people, from using professional scientists to the wisdom of Native elders to manage fish and game resources and the lands they inhabit. Doing so maintains yields for the benefit of the state's people, which is a requirement of the state's constitution. However, intrusions by the federal government have increased on a number of fronts, challenging Alaska's sovereign authority and responsibility to manage its fish and game resources. Those actions may forever impact the state's ability to determine both its sovereignty and management of resources as promised in the statehood compact and in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). The resolution urges Congress to enact legislation reserving the authority to enforce state fish and wildlife laws and manage fish and wildlife on public land to the individual states in which the land is found. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN added that the resolution grew out of discussions amongst [legislators]. For example, Representative Johnson is an active member of the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses, an organization of 42 states and over 2,500 legislators. Its main mission is to ensure continued protection of the outdoor heritage of hunting, fishing, and trapping, and the ability to manage that. There has been discussion on how important it is for the states to manage their own resources. He said he would like to use this model legislation to bring back to the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses in hopes of getting 30 plus states in order to show Congress that locals know what is best for their states. 1:45:13 PM REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON drew attention to the clause on page 2, lines 7-8, and asked where the National Park Service has restricted access of state employees to state land and water. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN replied he believes this is happening more recently on the Kenai Peninsula for hunting and fishing and intensive management for brown bears. It is also happening with the Unimak Island caribou herd. The island is half federal land and half state land. The people of Cold Bay depend on those caribou for survival, but there are also wolves on that island and it has gotten to the point where the state wants to do some intensive management to reduce the number of wolves. The whole herd is close to being lost and the people of Unimak will not have that valuable resource to feed their families. VICE CHAIR HAWKER recalled the case where the National Park Service overstepped its bounds on the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. Armed National Park Service officers literally commandeered Alaska citizens who were utilizing their right to progress over state navigable waters. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN added that that was probably one of the most highlighted issues within the state when it happened. 1:47:25 PM REPRESENTATIVE TARR noted that for fisheries there is the federal Magnuson-Stevens Act and the councils that have been set up through the Act. She inquired whether there is an existing federal wildlife law that is similar to the Magnuson-Stevens Act that would be amended if Congress were to take action as urged by HJR 20. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN drew attention to a paper in the committee packet entitled, "Wildlife Management Authority: The State Agencies' Perspective," written by the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. He noted that the fourth paragraph on page 2 talks about how the directors have identified that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is a hindrance. The paper discusses the relationship between the federal government, not specific laws, and the ability for the states and the federal government to sit down and talk out these issues. It is not so much that federal laws are bad laws but rather the ability to work with the federal government in the management of those laws in regard to fish and wildlife management and resource development at the same. REPRESENTATIVE TARR brought attention to page 1, lines 4-6, of the resolution and offered her understanding that the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is not something that is in federal statute. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN answered that the North America Model of Wildlife Conservation was adopted about 78 years ago and is what is now known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. The purchasers of outdoor sporting goods - hunters and fishermen - provide the funding for [state] fish and wildlife departments. VICE CHAIR HAWKER added it is a federal excise tax of 11 percent on all sporting goods, ammunition, and archery supplies. 1:50:51 PM REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON said he supports HJR 20 and asked whether the sponsor would be amenable to adding additional names to the resolution's distribution list. For example, the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses could be added to the list as well as The Council of State Governments West. He posited that an official document coming from the state would be better than him handing out a copy of the resolution. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN agreed, further suggesting that the National Conference of State Legislators would be another organization that could be added. 1:52:22 PM REPRESENTATIVE TARR understood that the Upper Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) was about fishing in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and about where federal management ended and state management began. She further understood that the lawsuit asserted it is the state's right to manage for anadromous fish. She inquired whether that is an example of what the sponsor is hoping will come out of the resolution - that in situations like this the default would be that the state manages the resource. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN offered his belief that the UCIDA lawsuit is asking for federal oversight. Currently there is shared management within Cook Inlet with the three-mile boundary that the state has and Cook Inlet is wider than six miles at points and so the federal government has said the state has the right to manage that on both sides. He said he therefore thinks that lawsuit is a separate issue. However, earlier this year a federal action was taken in regard to nets on the Kenai and perhaps, he suggested, this is what Representative Tarr is referring to. Nets catch everything and could have a very detrimental effect on the world class fisheries there, as well as the non-targeted species in the river. State managers are there to closely watch that every day and their ability to manage that fishery is much better than federal managers. Responding further to Representative Tarr, he said this is a very good example of something that has happened recently. 1:55:24 PM REPRESENTATIVE HERRON inquired whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a supporter of, or signer on, the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation or whether the service considers that foreign to its mission. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN offered his belief that the federal government is very supportive of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation; it was federal law that enacted it. REPRESENTATIVE HERRON concluded that what is being said between the lines of the resolution is that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not following the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN answered he suspects that in essence the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation has to do with the federal excise tax and passing that over to the states. He reported that last year there were conversations between the federal government and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission that the federal government may take over the funds that now go to states through Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson to fund fish and wildlife agencies at the federal level as opposed to bringing those funds over to the states. That, he added, would be opposing the objective of that model. REPRESENTATIVE HERRON remarked that Congress has a difficult time passing and enforcing laws and so bureaucrats make their own rules. 1:57:19 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON offered his hope that federal subsistence management not be mixed into this, saying that is what is being done when talking about the nets on the Kenai River, which was the federal subsistence board. Mixing this with subsistence would divide Alaskans rather than unite them, he warned. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN replied that in no way does HJR 20 have any implications to subsistence within Alaska. Rather, it helps clarify the discussions and allow the state's wildlife biologists, citizens, and Native leaders to assist by having those discussions before decisions are made on the management of fish and wildlife, whether it is federal or state management. VICE CHAIR HAWKER thanked Representative Neuman for making this clear on the record. REPRESENTATIVE OLSON said the resolution has a nice title. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN thanked Representative Olson. 2:00:01 PM VICE CHAIR HAWKER opened public testimony on HJR 20, then closed it after ascertaining that no one wished to testify. 2:01:05 PM REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON moved to adopt Conceptual Amendment 1 to add on page 3, line 9: the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses, The Council of State Governments, The Council of State Governments West, and the National [Conference] of State [Legislatures]. VICE CHAIR HAWKER objected for discussion purposes and inquired whether the conceptual amendment applies to the appropriate division or committee of those entities. REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON responded he thinks that if the resolution is sent to the organizations it will get to the appropriate place within each entity. VICE CHAIR HAWKER noted that these additional entities would be added under the section of the resolution pertaining to whom copies of the resolution shall be sent. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN thanked Representative Johnson for the conceptual amendment, saying it would be sent to the presiding officers of the entities, of which Representative Johnson is one. 2:02:45 PM VICE CHAIR HAWKER removed his objection. There being no further objection, Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted. 2:03:07 PM REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON stated he doesn't believe he has ever seen a resolution he disagrees with more and he believes there are hundreds of thousands of Alaskans who would also disagree with it if it was put before them. He said he couldn't be more pleased that the federal lands in Alaska are managed by federal officials who are managing the land the way they are supposed to for protecting subsistence rights, protecting non-consumptive rights, and protecting the mission of the federal law. He said he has spent a lot of time studying, writing, and testifying on this issue. The idea that the state gets to manage all of it is wrong and has to be wrong because everyone knows that within the national parks, not the preserves, he has seen people stopped from removing a bone off the road, which is consistent with the fact that everyone knows hunting is not allowed in a national park. It is the federal government that says that. The idea that there is a universal rule that in all parts of the state the state alone manages wildlife is incorrect factually and legally. Then the question becomes, Where can the state manage? He said he has spoken before the visitor industry and he thinks that, quietly, the visitor industry shares his concern about Alaska's practices. This came up in the committee's confirmation hearing with Ms. Sager Albaugh who basically said if a person wants to walk a dog on a trail on the Kenai Peninsula it is that person's problem if he/she wants to walk the dog off leash. In other words, Ms. Sager Albaugh's view as a Board of Game member is that the Board will control everything adjacent to that trail and phooey on the dog walker; that is the policy of the State of Alaska. He said he could sit back and say, "Geez, I can't stop this." But when these times happen he thinks he is morally obligated to say "wait a minute" even though it shines a light on him that he doesn't want, although it may be better than an artificial light in a den. He maintained that the be-it-resolved clause that says the state is supposed to control federal land and federal reserve waters is wrong; that was the Katie John decision where the court said the state could lose that if the state doesn't do it properly. The resolution maligns natural diversity, he said, but the state's viewing industry wants natural diversity and it's a $2 billion a year industry. Tourists don't want to take a yellow bus 80 miles to Wonder Lake and watch things getting blasted away. Fundamentally, he asks whether this can be explained to elementary kids and tourists. The answer is no. Regarding the whereas clause on page 1 about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, he said he testified in that hearing and the federal biologist proved, and the state biologist Mr. Vincent Lang could not contend with those arguments, that the brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula are threatened. The idea that that is conservation based, that the state's threatening them when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it is unsustainable and isn't going to allow any more hunting on federal land, the land of the American people ... The idea that there is increasing inconsistency - of course there is because they are different conservation system units with different rules depending on whether it is the Bureau of Land Management or the National Park Service. Regarding the Unimak caribou herd, he pointed out that that intensive game management was supported by him and groups he worked with and it went forward to stop the demise of that herd, which was years ago and therefore not a recent phenomenon. So he looks at some of this and asks, "Wow, are we going to use this kind of management in Yellowstone?" Regarding the hot button subject about the armed officers, he said he doesn't know what happened there but guesses someone does. [The U.S.] is a very armed society, he said, and he would expect federal officers to occasionally carry a sidearm because they are at great risk if they don't. The state is out of compliance with ANILCA, which is federal law. It is the Indian Commerce Clause, it is [the nation's] founding fathers, 1789, which way pre-dates the Alaska Statehood Act. Testimony was heard last year in this committee about how the big game concessions on federal land work better than the state's system. Big game guide hunters testified that the federal system was a better system. He said he understands where HJR 20 is coming from, but couldn't disagree more with it. 2:09:55 PM REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON moved to report HJR 20, as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and accompanying zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSHJR 20(RES) was reported from the House Resources Standing Committee.