Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

03/20/2017 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 15 Minutes Following Session --
Moved CSHB 105(RES) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
           HB 105-DENALI WOLF SPECIAL MANAGEMENT AREA                                                                       
2:06:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON announced  that the  first order  of business                                                               
would  be HOUSE  BILL NO.  105, "An  Act establishing  the Gordon                                                               
Haber Denali Wolf Special Management Area."                                                                                     
2:06:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR TARR  moved to adopt  the proposed  committee substitute                                                               
(CS) for  HB 105, labeled  30-LS0408\O, Bullard, 3/16/17,  as the                                                               
working  document.   There  being  no  objection, Version  O  was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
2:07:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON,  sponsor of HB  105, noted that  the original                                                               
bill has a  fiscal note from the Department  of Natural Resources                                                               
(DNR).   However,  he advised,  Version O  may generate  a fiscal                                                               
note with  minimal impact from  the Department of  Public Safety,                                                               
Division of  Alaska Wildlife Troopers,  and will possibly  have a                                                               
fiscal note with  zero impact from the Alaska  Department of Fish                                                               
& Game  (ADF&G).  He  reminded members that during  today's House                                                               
of Representatives floor session  he announced that the committee                                                               
would  convene within  15  minutes of  adjournment  of the  floor                                                               
2:08:31 PM                                                                                                                    
MEGAN ROWE,  Staff, Representative  Andy Josephson,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  on   behalf  of  Representative   Josephson,  prime                                                               
sponsor  of HB  105,  explained that  the  original bill  version                                                               
would have  created the  Denali Wolf  Special Management  Area to                                                               
protect wolves  near Denali National  Park and  Preserve ("Denali                                                               
Park")  and  that   the  title  in  which  it   was  drafted  was                                                               
administered by DNR.   However, she noted, DNR does  not have the                                                               
authority to  manage wildlife, and  therefore, per advice  of the                                                               
administration, Version  O includes the same  geographic area but                                                               
closes this area to the hunting and trapping of wolves.                                                                         
2:09:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  reminded members that  HB 105 was  before the                                                               
committee on 2/10/17 and 2/15/17  and public testimony was taken.                                                               
He again opened public testimony on the bill.                                                                                   
DOUGLAS MCINTOSH testified that he  has lived in Fairbanks for 46                                                               
years  and   wholeheartedly  supports  HB   105.    He   said  he                                                               
specifically  likes that  the bill's  purpose remains  to protect                                                               
wolves for future generations of  Alaskans and, as well, bolsters                                                               
the  economy  of  Alaska through  tourism.  Seeing  wild  animals                                                               
living free  in their natural  environment is one reason  he came                                                               
to Alaska, he added.                                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON  closed public  testimony  on  HB 105,  after                                                               
ascertaining  that  a  previous   witness,  Mr.  Al  Barrette  of                                                               
Fairbanks, had no comment on the changes made in Version O.                                                                     
2:12:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON  recalled  that during  the  2/10/17  hearing                                                               
committee members raised questions on  the original bill, such as                                                               
questions  about private  lands and  whether the  narrative which                                                               
stated that  wolves come  before all other  things in  the buffer                                                               
zone would mean  "just that."  To dispense  with those legitimate                                                               
questions, he  said, Version O would  make a simple closure.   He                                                               
related that ADF&G's  web site lists about 37  areas as presently                                                               
closed to  hunting or trapping.   Regarding the  closure concept,                                                               
he  noted  that  a  provision  in  the  constitution  [prohibits]                                                               
special and local  legislation.  However, he  continued, case law                                                               
says that if something is  of statewide importance and applies in                                                               
a local way, it may not  necessarily be prohibited.  For example,                                                               
on 2/10/17  it was  heard that Denali  Park has  650,000 visitors                                                               
per year and over $800 million  is spent in salaries at the park.                                                               
Some people,  he related, believe  that as few as  three trappers                                                               
are impacting the ability of visitors  to see wolves in the park.                                                               
While they  have rebounded  some, the  decline of  wolves roughly                                                               
parallels when the State of Alaska,  ADF&G, and the Board of Game                                                               
removed the buffer  in question, or at least a  buffer in similar                                                               
size and  similar location  near the Stampede  Trail and  east of                                                               
the George  Parks Highway,  although, he allowed,  this may  be a                                                               
contestable point.                                                                                                              
2:16:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  advised that his  vote on the bill  will be                                                               
no.  He said  he has lived and worked in  this area, including at                                                               
the Stampede  mine in the  late 1960s, and President  Carter used                                                               
the Antiquities  Act to  set aside  the area  in the  late 1970s.                                                               
This is  a solution  in search  of a problem,  he maintained.   A                                                               
witness  from ADF&G  indicated that  the wolf  population in  the                                                               
park ebbs and flows with  game availability and game availability                                                               
impacts  the  wolf  population greater  than  anything  else,  he                                                               
recalled.  Alaska  has enough park and reserve  lands, he opined,                                                               
and work should  be done on how to better  utilize the lands that                                                               
are available to the state  rather than setting aside properties.                                                               
He offered  his belief that  all or part  of this proposal  is in                                                               
the  Denali Borough  and  suggested looking  to  the borough  for                                                               
leadership regarding the trapping aspect.                                                                                       
2:18:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO  apologized  for arriving  late  to  the                                                               
meeting  and  inquired whether  the  vote  is for  the  committee                                                               
substitute (CS) or adoption of the bill.                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON replied  that  he  will treat  Representative                                                               
Birch's statement as  an objection, and said the vote  is for the                                                               
question of whether the bill should move from committee.                                                                        
CO-CHAIR TARR added  that the committee adopted Version  O as the                                                               
bill under  consideration, but  that no motion  has been  made to                                                               
move bill.                                                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON  reiterated   his  earlier  explanation  that                                                               
Version O creates a closure and no other designation.                                                                           
2:18:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO said he  is intimately familiar with this                                                               
area and will  not be supporting the bill.   Drawing attention to                                                               
the map of the  proposed area, he said that the  east side of the                                                               
Nenana  River where  the boundary  goes  is "absolutely  crawling                                                               
with wolves."   Wolves follow their food source and  a portion of                                                               
the packs  that were in  the Stampede area have  probably drifted                                                               
over due to the high moose  population on that side of the river.                                                               
It  is the  largest  pack he  has  ever seen,  he  added, and  he                                                               
believes this  pack will split  soon.  He related  a conversation                                                               
he had  with a Denali  Park bus driver  in which the  driver said                                                               
the wolves were  seen during one period of time  because they had                                                               
chosen to  den near the road,  but once the den  location changed                                                               
the wolves were  only seen one at  a time every once  in a while.                                                               
Representative Talerico  reported that this issue  came up before                                                               
the  Denali Borough  while he  was mayor  of the  borough, but  a                                                               
draft ordinance before the borough died.                                                                                        
2:21:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON said  it  makes sense  to  listen to  the                                                               
local  people's  comments.    One  major  wolf  was  killed,  she                                                               
recalled,  but one  cannot  go back  in  time and  fix  it.   She                                                               
maintained that  the bill  is trying to  address a  specific wolf                                                               
pack that was being researched and  was near and dear to people's                                                               
hearts, rather than the general wolf  packs around the park.  One                                                               
wolf is  just as valuable  being seen in  the park as  any other,                                                               
she  continued, not  just those  being researched,  and therefore                                                               
she will vote no.                                                                                                               
2:23:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER referred  to an article he  read and said                                                               
that the  science needs to be  considered.  Plenty of  wolves are                                                               
there,  he maintained,  and without  a  food source  a wolf  pack                                                               
cannot be kept there, so trapping may  not be the problem.  It is                                                               
difficult to  write a  law so  that maybe a  wolf will  be viewed                                                               
since what is  trying to be done  is to have wolf  viewing by not                                                               
trapping.   He  questioned whether  there is  science behind  the                                                               
bill  and  reiterated  that  there  may  be  more  involved  than                                                               
trapping as the reason for why the wolves moved on.                                                                             
2:26:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  noted he  has a degree  in biology  and is                                                               
heartened to  hear science  being referenced.   Because  he comes                                                               
from a  tourist town,  he noticed that  the North  Star Borough's                                                               
resolution states  that when the  area was closed to  trapping 49                                                               
percent of visitors  saw wolves, while over the  last three years                                                               
that number  was only  4 percent,  an all-time low.     Since the                                                               
wolf population was  decreased by about one-third of  what it was                                                               
during that time,  he said he cannot help but  think that for the                                                               
residents  of that  area and  for whoever  would make  a trip  to                                                               
Denali Park, it  could be a major economic  factor going forward.                                                               
For example,  he continued, the  value of an  individual humpback                                                               
whale  has  been  assessed  in  terms  of  generating  additional                                                               
tourist revenues  and it is not  cheap, so he would  bet that the                                                               
value to the state overall of a  single wolf in that area is very                                                               
considerable.   It is  economically wise to  set aside  a certain                                                               
area, he stated.  All nature asks  for is a space to exist and it                                                               
provides  such incredible  dividends  - a  pure  stream of  water                                                               
provides  salmon, an  area of  wilderness provides  all sorts  of                                                               
economic drivers such as food  for subsistence and other sorts of                                                               
harvest,  as well  as non-consumptive  uses like  from a  tourist                                                               
dollar.   Additionally,  he continued,  there  is the  loss of  a                                                               
decades-long [research] data set, a rare and precious thing.                                                                    
2:28:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   TARR  offered   her  appreciation   of  Representative                                                               
Parish's comments because  in large part that is  what is drawing                                                               
her  to support  the  legislation.   Denali  Park  has more  than                                                               
500,000 visitors  a year, she  continued, and right now  with the                                                               
state's  fiscal  situation  the  state  is  looking  towards  the                                                               
industries  that are  known  to be  sustainable  and have  growth                                                               
potential, and the  state's tourism industry is  certainly one of                                                               
those.   Her hope is that  people coming to Denali  Park for that                                                               
experience will  "stick around and  spend a lot more  money while                                                               
they're here."   Tourism is important given that  it is currently                                                               
the  state's  number  three industry.    Referencing  a  National                                                             
Geographic story  and an  article in the  Los Angeles  Times, she                                                           
reported that  in 1999 a  collared alpha  female was shot  and in                                                               
2012 a  trapper dragged a  horse carcass  to an active  wolf site                                                               
and  set traps  that caught  a pregnant  female belonging  to the                                                               
East  Fork  Pack. In  2012  this  same  trapper caught  the  only                                                               
remaining   breeding   female   in  the   Granite   Creek   Pack;                                                               
consequently, that pack produced no  pups and was reduced from 15                                                               
wolves  to  3.   The  trapper's  comment, seemingly  spoken  with                                                               
pride, was  that that was  the third  time he ruined  millions of                                                               
people's  Denali  Park  viewing   experience.    These  types  of                                                               
articles are  not a good  image for Alaska  and give the  state a                                                               
"black eye," she opined.  Offering  her support for the bill, she                                                               
said it  is the right  move for now and  can be revisited  in the                                                               
future and something else tried if the bill does not work.                                                                      
2:31:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WESTLAKE stated  he has always viewed  wolves as a                                                               
biological resource,  whether it  is to put  money in  his wallet                                                               
when he  personally handles  it or  to put  money into  the state                                                               
from people  coming into Denali Park.   If he sees  more than two                                                               
wolves  when out  camping, he  continued,  then he  has seen  too                                                               
many.  He said  he is conflicted in that only  half the battle is                                                               
won if  it is done on  the visitors' side; having  the money come                                                               
in makes  sense but  it is  a tough decision.   Alaska  should be                                                               
exciting  for everyone,  he opined,  and whether  it is  moose or                                                               
wolves it translates  into dollars for the economy  or provides a                                                               
great story to tell the kids.                                                                                                   
2:32:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND offered  her  appreciation for  Co-Chair                                                               
Tarr's reference  to the Los  Angeles Times article  because that                                                             
is where  many of  Alaska's tourists originate.   She  would much                                                               
prefer  for it  to be  in the  Los Angeles  Times that  Alaska is                                                             
working to protect  these wolves and increase  their numbers, she                                                               
continued, rather  than aerial  spotting of  wolves by  ADF&G and                                                               
the gassing  of [pups] in their  dens.  Offering her  support for                                                               
the bill,  she noted  that while  wolves do  not have  regard for                                                               
boundaries, people  do, and if this  isn't done it will  never be                                                               
known if it works.   If this doesn't work it  can be revisited in                                                               
the  future, but  at  this point  in  time it  would  be wise  to                                                               
respect the signs and help the wolves rebound.                                                                                  
2:34:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  TARR moved  to report  CSHB  105, Version  30-LS0408\O,                                                               
Bullard,    3/16/17,   out    of   committee    with   individual                                                               
recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO objected.                                                                                               
2:35:06 PM                                                                                                                    
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Westlake, Drummond,                                                               
Parish,  Tarr, and  Josephson voted  in  favor of  the motion  to                                                               
report CSHB  105, Version 30-LS0408\O,  Bullard, 3/16/17,  out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  notes.   Representatives Rauscher,  Talerico, Birch,  and                                                               
Johnson voted against it.   Therefore, CSHB 105(RES) was reported                                                               
out of the House Resources Standing Committee by a vote of 5-4.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 134 Supporting Doc - BoG statute.pdf HRES 3/20/2017 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/24/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 134
HB134 Sponsor Statement 2.23.17.pdf HRES 3/20/2017 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/24/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 134
CSHB105 vers O.pdf HRES 3/20/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Summary of Changes.pdf HRES 3/20/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
Map of Area in CS.pdf HRES 3/20/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105 Supporting Docs - BoG prop. 142 letters.pdf HRES 3/20/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 105
HB0134A.PDF HRES 3/20/2017 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/24/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 134