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 134-BOARD OF GAME MEMBERSHIP                                                                             
2:39:09 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR  WESTLAKE announced that  the final order  of business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 134,  "An Act relating to the composition                                                               
of the Board of Game."                                                                                                          
2:39:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON,  sponsor, introduced HB  134.  He  noted that                                                               
he  has some  concerns  with  the way  the  Board  of Game  (BOG)                                                               
operates and explained that the  bill provides for a tourism seat                                                               
and  a non-consumptive  seat on  the seven-member  board.   There                                                               
would be no  impact on board members who  are currently appointed                                                               
and unconfirmed, or  appointed and confirmed, he  continued.  The                                                               
bill  clearly states  that these  seats  would be  filled in  the                                                               
future.   The bill is very  important, he said, because  about 85                                                               
percent of Alaskans  do not hunt or trap.   However, he added, he                                                               
would be  surprised if  that number also  applied to  the fishing                                                               
predilections because he assumes that  most people fish.  He said                                                               
he  has received  20 or  30  e-mails from  the public  expressing                                                               
concern with  the board not  hearing from  non-consumptive users.                                                               
In the  1990s, he recalled,  the Board  of Game had  members like                                                               
Joel  Bennett, Victor  VanBellenberghe,  and  Thomas Meacham  who                                                               
were  willing   to  hear,  entertain,  and   take  seriously  the                                                               
interests of non-consumptive users.   Former Senator Johnny Ellis                                                               
filed,  or considered  filing, a  bill  that created  a Board  of                                                               
Wildlife.  As to the question  raised in HB 105 on whether Denali                                                               
Park's wolves  need further protection, Co-Chair  Josephson said,                                                               
"You see a  Board of Game that has become  so politicized that if                                                               
a person where, ... for example..."                                                                                             
2:42:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  interjected that since no  members of the                                                               
Board  of Game  are present,  care should  be taken  when talking                                                               
about the board's makeup.                                                                                                       
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  allowed that  that is a  fair statement.   He                                                               
shared his experience that if  during an appointee's confirmation                                                               
hearing the appointee indicated in  the slightest way that he/she                                                               
cared about  the wildlife watcher, that  appointee's confirmation                                                               
would most  likely be sunk.   It didn't used  to be this  way, he                                                               
continued.   In the  1990s there  was a culture  on the  Board of                                                               
Game that  was more  accepting of wildlife  viewing.   He posited                                                               
that there  would be more  dialog and diversity before  the board                                                               
if HB  134 was passed,  and there would  be an avenue  for people                                                               
who share  different values  to be  heard.   He pointed  out that                                                               
CSHB 105(RES),  the bill the  committee moved out  earlier today,                                                               
will  help protect  Denali  wolves.   However,  he related,  last                                                               
month the Board  of Game defeated a comparable  proposal by seven                                                               
votes to zero, while CSHB 105(RES)  passed by five votes to four.                                                               
He  read  from  the  current   statute,  AS  16.05.221(b),  which                                                               
identifies who may serve on the Board of Game and states:                                                                       
     For  purposes of  the conservation  and development  of                                                                    
     the game  resources of  the state,  there is  created a                                                                    
     Board of  Game composed  of seven members  appointed by                                                                    
     the governor, subject to confirmation  by a majority of                                                                    
     the members  of the  legislature in joint  session. The                                                                    
     governor  shall appoint  each member  on  the basis  of                                                                    
     interest in  public affairs, good  judgment, knowledge,                                                                    
     and ability  in the field  of action of the  board, and                                                                    
     with  a view  to  providing diversity  of interest  and                                                                    
     points of view in the membership.                                                                                          
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON said he is not  suggesting that there is not a                                                               
diversity  of views  on  the  board.   For  example,  there is  a                                                               
difference  of opinion  between "residential  hunters" and  those                                                               
supporting interests that may come from  out of state.  So, it is                                                               
not  like the  hunting  or trapping  communities are  monolithic.                                                               
However,  he  continued,   there  is  a  huge   swath  of  Alaska                                                               
residents,  85 percent,  who  have essentially  no  voice on  the                                                               
Board of  Game.   Therefore, HB  134 says,  "What would  be wrong                                                               
with those who are concerned  with watchable wildlife, frankly in                                                               
the end losing  most proposals 5-2?"  For  the non-consumptive or                                                               
tourism  seat  it  could  be a  difficult  experience,  he  said,                                                               
because they are  often going to have a hard  time convincing the                                                               
other five  of something,  such as that  predator control  is not                                                               
needed in  a certain  unit because there  is some  important bear                                                               
viewing  going on  there.   So,  while they  will generally  lose                                                               
those struggles by  five votes to two, at least  they will have a                                                               
voice, and that  is very important to the people  of Alaska.  Co-                                                               
Chair  Josephson pointed  out  that many  times  people will  not                                                               
attend the  Board of  Game meetings  because they  view it  as an                                                               
exercise  that  is,  from  their vantage  point,  hopeless.    He                                                               
therefore urged  that Title  16 as written  be infused  with more                                                               
delineation and more description so there can be real diversity.                                                                
2:47:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  offered his understanding that  under HB
134,  these two  seats would  be the  only defined  seats on  the                                                               
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON replied that is  correct.  He posited, "That's                                                               
what this has  come to; the ... other five  will surely represent                                                               
the consumptive  users."  He said  he does not have  a particular                                                               
problem with that, but that one  could argue that there should be                                                               
a  little more  parity, a  "four  to three  kind of  thing."   He                                                               
agreed  there should  be  a strong  voice  for consumptive  users                                                               
because they  know a  lot about  allocation and  many know  a lot                                                               
about  biology and  what  it  takes to  harvest  wildlife.   They                                                               
reflect Alaska  in all  its abundance, but  this other  cohort is                                                               
absolutely cut out of the process.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER said he  understands and agrees, but that                                                               
it seems  like it would be  creating two seats of  equal value as                                                               
opposed to the others.                                                                                                          
2:50:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  argued that this is  inserting government                                                               
to  determine  what  decisions  the board  should  make  and  the                                                               
outcomes of  the votes.   The  governor gets  to appoint  and the                                                               
legislature gets  to confirm, she  said, and every time  that the                                                               
legislature does  not like  the makeup  of the  board it  has the                                                               
option  of  voting that  down  and  having the  governor  appoint                                                               
someone else.   The legislature already has the  option of saying                                                               
it  wants a  certain makeup  on  the board.    It is  not set  in                                                               
statute that there will be this one  and that one, she added.  It                                                               
allows for everyone being represented  when everyone in the state                                                               
gets to have  a voice through the representatives  when they vote                                                               
on the  makeup of the  board.  As  the makeup of  Alaska changes,                                                               
she posited, there may be changes  on the way the Board of Game's                                                               
seats are  being applied.  As  far as needing to  define seat-by-                                                               
seat, the  bill would bind the  hands of the governor  as well as                                                               
those of legislators to really represent their constituents.                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  responded that  he is saying  it is  a policy                                                               
call and is in the interest  of the legislature and the people of                                                               
Alaska to  be bound  by this.   There  is nothing  atypical about                                                               
saying there  will be  X number  of pedicurists  and Y  number of                                                               
hairdressers  on a  board, it  is typical.   This  would give  an                                                               
audience to some ideas that nine  times out of ten will fail, but                                                               
members of  the public will  say, "I had  a voice and  I couldn't                                                               
attend   that   meeting,  but   someone   who   sees  the   world                                                               
approximately the way I do did [attend]  and they tried . . . and                                                               
they  raised some  sensitivities  and concerns  that never  would                                                               
have been raised otherwise."                                                                                                    
2:52:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  related  that  as  a  photographer  and                                                               
wildlife  viewer,  he  appreciates  wildlife and  being  able  to                                                               
photograph and  also appreciates the sponsor's  interest in being                                                               
able to view and take photos.   There should be a voice out there                                                               
of  some  sort, he  said,  and  he  commends the  sponsor's  idea                                                               
somewhat.  He inquired as to how  HB 134 and the provision in the                                                               
constitution that wildlife be managed  for maximum benefit of the                                                               
state's  people  on  the sustained  yield  principle  would  work                                                               
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  answered that  the committee's vote  today on                                                               
[HB 105]  said there  is an economic  interest in  living animals                                                               
and  that reflected  the maximum  benefit.   Requiring a  tourism                                                               
seat  and a  non-consumptive  seat  does not,  in  his view,  run                                                               
counter to that constitutional mandate.                                                                                         
2:55:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH stated  that  fish and  game are  renewable                                                               
resources that have  been managed effectively one  way or another                                                               
since statehood.   He said he is concerned about  having folks on                                                               
the  Board  of  Game  who  do  not  have  some  interest  in  the                                                               
sustainable use  and consumption of  that resource.   He inquired                                                               
whether there would  be an analogous situation with  the Board of                                                               
Fisheries (BOF) if  someone who objects to fishing were  to be on                                                               
that board.   For  example, he  continued, it  would be  like the                                                               
board of  regents for a  university having somebody  that doesn't                                                               
think kids should go to a university.                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  replied no,  people do not  see fish  the way                                                               
they  do wildlife  and that  is the  main difference.   It  is an                                                               
interesting question, he allowed.   For example, the new director                                                               
of the  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  isn't as concerned                                                               
with environmental protection  and so why is he  working for that                                                               
department.  The idea that Board  of Game members should be about                                                               
consumptive use only, and so why  would it be appropriate to have                                                               
someone  who is  non-consumptive, is  something he  thinks about.                                                               
He  said  his concern  and  experience  from  the Board  of  Game                                                               
meetings that  he has attended  is that any proposal  to conserve                                                               
rather than take is generally defeated.   While the Board of Game                                                               
does  have concerns  about sustainability  generally,  it is  his                                                               
opinion that board  members react viscerally when  somebody has a                                                               
proposal that board  members red flag and identify  as being just                                                               
in the  interest of  wildlife watching.   But, he  maintained, it                                                               
should  receive  a  voice  and another  reason  is  the  economic                                                               
interest in tourism.                                                                                                            
2:58:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH drew analogy  with proponents of alternative                                                               
energy not being  a good fit to  serve on the Alaska  Oil and Gas                                                               
Conservation  Commission  (AOGCC).     While  alternative  energy                                                               
proponents  are  well intentioned,  he  continued,  the AOGCC  is                                                               
trying  to reasonably  manage and  produce Alaska's  oil and  gas                                                               
resources.   He  said  he does  not see  how  someone opposed  to                                                               
hunting  or trapping  would be  a  good fit  on a  board that  is                                                               
primarily constructed  to efficiently manage and  maintain a game                                                               
resource that is collectively owned.                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON responded  that if HB 134 were  to become law,                                                               
it would  likely be found  that the non-consumptive  seat holder,                                                               
and surely  the tourism seat holder,  is not bound to  looking at                                                               
an issue from one perspective.   For example, he said, the Yukon-                                                               
Charley National  Wild and  Scenic River  Area probably  does not                                                               
have scads  of tourist,  so the person  in the  dedicated tourism                                                               
seat might  say that there  is not  much interest in  the tourism                                                               
industry there  and would cast  a vote for  a proposal to  take X                                                               
number more wolverines in a sustainable way in that area.                                                                       
3:00:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO asked whether  the assumption is that the                                                               
85 percent  of the  state's population who  don't hunt  are anti-                                                               
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON answered no and  said the cohort he is talking                                                               
about may  view some of the  practices that are allowed  in state                                                               
law as abhorrent, not part of  the North American model, not fair                                                               
chase,  and not  sporting.   They  want some  concern for  intact                                                               
ecosystems, he  continued, and they  want an Alaska  that remains                                                               
wild rather than a place that  is all about abundance and nothing                                                               
else.    There  is  nothing  in  the  aforementioned  that  would                                                               
preclude some responsible and sustainable hunting.                                                                              
3:02:42 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO posited that  he and the sponsor probably                                                               
have different understandings  of the Board of Game.   He related                                                               
that  he has  been  involved  in a  board  meeting  that had  213                                                               
proposals.   He  has  seen  the board  take  data and  allocation                                                               
considerations  from ADF&G  and structure  seasons, closures,  or                                                               
openings [accordingly].   For example,  a big thing for  his area                                                               
was when  the board took  numbers and allocations and  set antler                                                               
restrictions  so that  there would  be  a maximum  yield of  that                                                               
particular  resource to  continue.   Because he  is a  reasonably                                                               
aggressive consumptive user of  that resource, those restrictions                                                               
meant a lot to  him, he said.  The governor  can choose people of                                                               
any background  and diversity.   The  Board of  Game has,  in his                                                               
opinion, made decisions based on  the allocation and data that is                                                               
presented to  it and has  acted to manage the  resource correctly                                                               
for the advantage of Alaska's people.                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  agreed the board has  done the aforementioned                                                               
and allowed  his comments  to have  been unfair  to the  Board of                                                               
Game   in   that  respect.      The   board  has   followed   the                                                               
recommendations  of the  department  and its  biologists and  has                                                               
made  some  good decisions  about  methods  and means,  he  said.                                                               
However, 95  percent of  the time the  board is  truly dismissive                                                               
about any  non-consumptive view of  the world.   Generally, those                                                               
dismissals have not  been for areas way off the  beaten path, but                                                               
in  places  where  the  other interests  of  Alaskans  should  be                                                               
3:05:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  remarked that she  is having a  hard time                                                               
wrapping  her mind  around this  because growing  up she  did her                                                               
fair  share of  consuming.   It was  up to  the game  managers to                                                               
ensure that the game was not  over or under hunted and remained a                                                               
useable resource  for food.  Now  it is being said  that it could                                                               
be a useable resource for  wildlife viewing.  But, she continued,                                                               
wildlife viewing  does not reduce  the number of animals,  so why                                                               
would the  Board of Game  have to  worry about how  many pictures                                                               
were taken of  something?  Viewing, not hunting,  is why national                                                               
parks  were set  aside.   This  does not  make  sense, she  said,                                                               
because  wildlife viewing  is a  whole other  way of  approaching                                                               
game policy.                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON responded  by citing HB 105 and  noting that 5                                                               
percent of the people are seeing  wolves now.  In his opinion, he                                                               
continued, this is  because the state is complicit  in the demise                                                               
of wolves that  leave Denali National Park  and Preserve ("Denali                                                               
Park"); it  is part of  a policy.   Now, under the  new [federal]                                                               
administration, there  is going  to be  less federal  control and                                                               
oversight in  the preserves and refuges  and that is going  to be                                                               
put back on the  State of Alaska at some cost to  the state.  For                                                               
example, on the Kenai Peninsula  top federal biologists have said                                                               
that  no   more  brown   bears  can  be   taken  because   it  is                                                               
unsustainable; however,  the state's position is  that things are                                                               
fine.   His  observation, he  said, is  that the  state generally                                                               
sides with "the take" and rarely "the non-take."                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON commented,  "You  can  disagree with  the                                                               
policy of how  the allocations are made ... and  you can disagree                                                               
with game policy, but that's not  the same as establishing a seat                                                               
on the board."  Anybody who  doesn't get a moose might think that                                                               
the  game in  his/her management  area could  be managed  better.                                                               
Disagreeing with  the board's  policy is not  the same  as saying                                                               
someone  needs to  be put  on  the board  that is  not into  game                                                               
management for a sustainable use, she said.                                                                                     
[HB 134 was held over.]                                                                                                         

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