Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 17

03/16/2010 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 357 AK RAILROAD CORP. LAND SALES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 267 SNOW MACHINE USE IN DALTON HWY CORRIDOR TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held; Assigned to Subcommittee
+= HB 257 BAN CELL PHONE USE WHEN DRIVING TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         HB 267-SNOW MACHINE USE IN DALTON HWY CORRIDOR                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:19:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR P. WILSON  announced that the next order  of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO.  267,  "An Act  relating  to  travel by  snow                                                               
machine  within  five miles  of  the  right-of-way of  the  James                                                               
Dalton Highway."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:21:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR P.  WILSON reported  that she  has assigned  a subcommittee                                                               
for HB  267, consisting of Representative  Johnson, Petersen, and                                                               
T.   Wilson,  chaired   by  Representative   T.   Wilson.     The                                                               
subcommittee will report back to full committee, she stated.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:22:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARY  SIROKY, Legislative  Liaison, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of  Transportation   &  Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF),                                                               
explained that the  DOT&PF experts on the Dalton  Highway are not                                                               
available today.   She stated that  the DOT&PF is not  opposed to                                                               
access  in  the  Dalton  Highway Corridor,  but  doing  so  would                                                               
present  additional challenges  for the  department.   Opening up                                                               
the  Dalton  Highway  would create  potential  conflicts  between                                                               
commercial truckers who move goods  and services and recreational                                                               
users.   One  area of  conflict  would be  the roadside  pullouts                                                               
since currently  not many  pullouts could  accommodate commercial                                                               
trucks,  DOT&PF vehicles,  and recreational  users.   The  DOT&PF                                                               
requires these pullouts  to use as turnarounds  to move equipment                                                               
between  the maintenance  camps.   She related  the only  pullout                                                               
really large  enough for commercial  trucks, the DOT&PF  use, and                                                               
recreational use is  located at Franklin Bluff on  the north side                                                               
of Atigun  Pass.  In response  to Chair P. Wilson,  she indicated                                                               
her understanding that  access would stop at  Coldfoot.  Franklin                                                               
Bluff  is located  about 50  to 75  miles north  of Atigun  Pass,                                                               
which is about 350 miles north of the Yukon River.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:25:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SIROKY commented  that the DOT&PF will prepare a  map for the                                                               
subcommittee  to  show the  location  and  size of  the  existing                                                               
pullouts.   She highlighted issues  the subcommittee may  wish to                                                               
consider as  it deliberates  on HB  267.   The DOT&PF  uses high-                                                               
speed plows to maintain the Dalton  Highway.  Thus, the DOT&PF is                                                               
concerned  about  anyone  who  may   park  alongside  the  Dalton                                                               
Highway.  The  DOT&PF has a responsibility to plow  the roads and                                                               
the  pullouts and  cannot be  held responsible  for any  vehicles                                                               
that get  "plowed in."   She anticipated the types  of complaints                                                               
the DOT&PF would  likely receive if motorists had  to spend hours                                                               
digging their  vehicle out of snow  berms.  She pointed  out that                                                               
the  only  emergency  responders currently  available  to  assist                                                               
motorists if  an accident  were to  occur is  the DOT&PF  and the                                                               
Alyeska  Pipeline  Service  Company.    She  explained  that  any                                                               
increased  time spent  assisting motorists  would take  time away                                                               
from DOT&PF's road maintenance duties.   Another issue that could                                                               
arise is the need to supply  gasoline to motorists who run out of                                                               
gas.   In fact, the DOT&PF  does not currently have  the means to                                                               
collect money  for fuel, she  stated.   Finally, in the  event of                                                               
construction  for  a natural  gas  pipeline,  the DOT&PF  expects                                                               
traffic to  increase dramatically.  The  anticipated schedule for                                                               
road construction  would be in  the next  three to five  years to                                                               
assist with  gearing up to haul  goods.  She thought  that all of                                                               
these issues could be solved,  although some issues may take some                                                               
time to resolve.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:28:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SIROKY, in  response  to  Representative Johnson,  explained                                                               
that  the DOT&PF  has seven  camps located  about every  60 miles                                                               
along the  Dalton Highway  between Livengood  and Deadhorse.   In                                                               
further response  to Representative  Johnson, she  explained that                                                               
typically  two to  four people  live  at each  camp, including  a                                                               
mechanic and equipment operator.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  asked whether  the DOT&PF  would allow                                                               
people to park at the camps.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SIROKY answered no.  In  further response to Chair P. Wilson,                                                               
she related  that she did not  know whether the camps  are posted                                                               
to  prohibit trespassing.   She  pointed out  that the  DOT&PF is                                                               
responsible  for its  equipment, but  she did  not recall  if the                                                               
camps were  gated.  She  recalled that  the camp at  Chandalar is                                                               
open.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:29:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON asked  if  it would  simplify matters  to                                                               
create  a  corridor  for  parking.   He  asked  if  seven  access                                                               
corridors  were   created  with   parking,  safety,   and  rescue                                                               
capabilities, whether it would solve some of the problems.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. SIROKY  offered to  consider and  discuss this  solution with                                                               
the DOT&PF personnel to identify  any conflicts.  She thought one                                                               
issue that could arise would be  if too many people wanted to use                                                               
the area.   She suggested  the subcommittee may want  to consider                                                               
limiting the  number of people  who could use the  Dalton Highway                                                               
Corridor.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE T.  WILSON asked whether the  campground at Arctic                                                               
Circle could be used.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SIROKY responded  that the visitor center is not  open in the                                                               
winter so  she speculated that  the campground is  not maintained                                                               
during the  winter.   She noted  that the  campground is  not far                                                               
from Coldfoot, where many resources are available.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:32:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIAN PERSON,  Ph.D., Wildlife Biologist, Department  of Wildlife                                                               
Management, North Slope Borough (NSB),  stated the NSB is opposed                                                               
to allowing any  part of the five-mile corridor  along the Dalton                                                               
Highway  for  the   use  of  snowmachines.     This  highway  was                                                               
originally established to allow production  of and service of oil                                                               
and gas facilities.  The Dalton  Highway was closed to public use                                                               
due to  the broad  justifiable concerns  over issues  relating to                                                               
wildlife   harassment,   user   conflicts,   wildlife   violation                                                               
concerns,   pipeline  security   concerns,   search  and   rescue                                                               
responsibility, and  traffic issues.  These  visions were legally                                                               
challenged and  ultimately overturned, but not  without retaining                                                               
some  insights for  the original  plan to  protect the  land, the                                                               
wildlife  resource,  and  the   people  that  traditionally  have                                                               
depended  upon the  use  of  the resources.    This bill  clearly                                                               
disrupts these  protections without any consideration  for fiscal                                                               
impacts to the Alaska State Troopers  and DOT&PF.  He pointed out                                                               
some  misinformation given  during testimony.   He  reported that                                                               
the  Central   Arctic  Caribou  Herd   is  not  over   80,000  in                                                               
population, but is  approximately 67,000.  Further,  there is not                                                               
any evidence  that suggests  the herd  has exceeded  its carrying                                                               
capacity or exhausted  its range or resources.   In fact, passing                                                               
HB 267 would displace caribou  from its winter range, effectively                                                               
restricting its  range.   The Central Arctic  Caribou Herd  is in                                                               
good health,  with over an  80 percent parturition rate  and high                                                               
calf survival.  He offered  that energetic demands of wildlife in                                                               
the winter  and snowmachine harassment  to musk oxen  and caribou                                                               
would be  problems.   He concluded  by stating  that he  has been                                                               
fighting  similar bills  for the  last six  or seven  years.   He                                                               
said, "It's just  frustrating to see the state with  a long chain                                                               
of broken  promises."  He  urged members  not to open  the Dalton                                                               
Highway Corridor.  He suggested  that people have access to these                                                               
lands and  many people  truly enjoy  the Dalton  Highway Corridor                                                               
and the surrounding land.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:35:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LISA HUGHES,  Legislative Liaison, Northern  Alaska Environmental                                                               
Center  (NAEC), stated  that the  NAEC does  not support  HB 267.                                                               
She  stated that  the  Dalton Highway  Corridor  has been  closed                                                               
since  the  construction  of  the  Trans-Alaska  Pipeline  System                                                               
(TAPS).   This bill  would violate  a longstanding  commitment to                                                               
protect wildlife  and subsistence  use in the  North Slope.   The                                                               
Dalton  Highway  was  built  for   industrial  purposes  and  not                                                               
recreational use.   The Dalton  Highway supplies the  North Slope                                                               
oil fields, access to the  TAPS, countless mining operations, and                                                               
a  provides  a take-off  point  for  commercial guides  and  tour                                                               
operators.   The road conditions  in the winter also  provide the                                                               
trucking industry with  the best opportunity to  haul heavy loads                                                               
to  Prudhoe Bay.   Increased  traffic  and abandoned  snowmachine                                                               
trailers along  the Dalton  Highway would  pose a  serious hazard                                                               
for industrial truck  traffic.  None of  the industries mentioned                                                               
are  in  favor of  allowing  motorized  recreational use  in  the                                                               
Dalton  Highway Corridor.   She  asked for  an assessment  of the                                                               
fiscal impact  since there  is a complete  lack of  emergency and                                                               
public safety  services in this region.   She stated that  HB 267                                                               
would  require increased  funding  for the  Alaska Department  of                                                               
Fish  &   Game,  Division  of   Wildlife  Conservation   and  law                                                               
enforcement such as the Alaska  State Troopers (AST).  The DOT&PF                                                               
would need  to pave,  build parking  lots, and  create additional                                                               
roadside pullouts.   The Department of Public  Safety (DPS) would                                                               
need additional funds to reinstate  a year-round AST in Coldfoot.                                                               
The Northern  Alaska Environmental  Center urges  the legislature                                                               
to honor its  commitment to protect wildlife  and subsistence, as                                                               
well  as provide  a  safer environment  for  industries and  user                                                               
groups that  use this  area.   She urged members  not to  pass HB
267.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:37:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REBECCA BENSON stated  that she resides at  Mineral Lake, Alaska.                                                               
She  testified in  opposition to  HB 267.   She  stated that  her                                                               
family has hunted in the region  for many years.  The opportunity                                                               
to hunt in the area  without competing with mechanized hunters is                                                               
unparalleled since  almost all other hunts  allow snowmachine use                                                               
or  other  off-road  vehicles, which  have  resulted  in  shorter                                                               
hunting  periods.   She  predicted  that  if the  Dalton  Highway                                                               
Corridor  is   opened,  that   the  hunting   opportunities  will                                                               
deteriorate.   She predicted  that the  hunts would  resemble the                                                               
Forty-mile and Nelchina hunts, especially  since the bag limit in                                                               
the Dalton Highway  area was recently increased  to five caribou.                                                               
She  related that  the Forty-mile  hunt is  a registration  hunt,                                                               
easily  accessible by  off-road vehicles  (ORV).   The Forty-mile                                                               
hunt is  typically open for  three to four  days.  Last  year the                                                               
harvest quota was  exceeded by a large margin,  which resulted in                                                               
further  restrictions.   She suggested  that  opening the  Dalton                                                               
Highway  Corridor  to  snowmachine  use  would  create  problems.                                                               
Proponents argue that  most of the state is  open to snowmachines                                                               
with little  damage.  However,  this statement ignores  that non-                                                               
motorized hunters are being excluded  from those areas.  The hunt                                                               
off the Dalton Highway is  quite popular among hunters and people                                                               
who ski, walk, snowshoe, canoe or  dogsled in the area.  Some say                                                               
this area is  not available to average Alaskan, but  she said she                                                               
hoped that most Alaskans can still walk five miles.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:39:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT CAYWOOD  said that he  has hunted off snowmachines  and he                                                               
thinks all Alaskans should be allowed to use area.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:40:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVE  FLORY said  he keeps  hearing "not  in my  backyard."   He                                                               
related that a huge expanse is  closed.  While the Dalton Highway                                                               
was  originally intended  for  oil  and gas  use,  the state  has                                                               
expanded and  recreational uses  need to  be spread  out further.                                                               
He  suggested  that  history  changes  and  the  state  needs  to                                                               
recognize the  change, which  may result  in more  facilities and                                                               
more  opportunities for  Alaskans  and non-Alaskans  to use  this                                                               
area.   He said,  "We're talking  about millions  of acres."   He                                                               
suggested that  there is  plenty of room.   He  further suggested                                                               
that  mechanized   and  non-mechanized  uses  are   not  mutually                                                               
exclusive.   People need to  learn to tolerate interests  and the                                                               
state need  to grow  as a state  and should open  up some  of the                                                               
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:42:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM  LANG  related  that  he has  a  secondary  residence  in                                                               
Wiseman, Alaska.  He testified in  opposition to HB 267.  He said                                                               
there is an  absence of access issues since any  Alaskan can walk                                                               
from the Dalton Highway to the Bering  Sea if they so desire.  He                                                               
agreed  with  prior  testimony  on  the  bill  that  the  caribou                                                               
estimates were overestimated  at the last hearing.   He commented                                                               
that the Alaska  Department of Fish & Game  presented an estimate                                                               
of  67,000 to  the Board  of Game  at its  February meeting.   He                                                               
speculated  that harvest  is underestimated.    Since people  who                                                               
live  north of  the Yukon  River do  not need  to report  caribou                                                               
harvest most  of the harvest is  unreported.  He agreed  with the                                                               
need for  a fiscal note  to provide for  increased infrastructure                                                               
necessary for  HB 267.   He recalled the Chair  mentioning flying                                                               
to Prudhoe  Bay and driving  down the  Dalton Highway.   He asked                                                               
her  to imagine  this trip  without  any AST  stationed north  of                                                               
Fairbanks  and  without  any emergency  medical  services  except                                                               
those provided by Alyeska Pipeline  Service Company.  The current                                                               
emergency services  are intended for the  company's personnel, he                                                               
stated.   He  thought state  funding would  be needed  to provide                                                               
additional  parking areas  and trash  receptacles.   He expressed                                                               
concern  about  snowmachine use  during  years  with little  snow                                                               
cover.   He reminded  people that the  Iron Dog  Snowmachine Race                                                               
had little snow cover this  year, but people participated and are                                                               
motivated to  use their snowmachines  to hunt or race,  even with                                                               
little snow cover.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:44:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
P.J. SIMON  stated that  safety is paramount.   He  described the                                                               
Dalton  Highway  road  conditions,  including the  scale  of  the                                                               
mountains and  sharp turns that  truckers carrying  large amounts                                                               
of fuel must  make.  He cautioned that trucks  cannot easily stop                                                               
due to  the enormous  weight.  He  stressed the  safety concerns.                                                               
He related  that the Dalton  Highway supplies the  oil production                                                               
with needed supplies.  He  expressed concern over damage to fauna                                                               
and  flora.   He thought  a three  to five  year study  should be                                                               
accomplished  prior to  opening  the Dalton  Highway Corridor  to                                                               
snowmachine use.   He said,  "We count on  oil as Alaskans."   He                                                               
concluded by stating he is firmly opposed to HB 267.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:46:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JUNE RECOFF  stated that she  has lived most  of her life  in the                                                               
Brooks  Range.   She stated  she has  traveled to  faraway places                                                               
like Africa,  but nothing rivals  the Central Brooks Range.   She                                                               
stated   that   opening   the    Dalton   Highway   Corridor   to                                                               
indiscriminate  snowmachine use  at  a time  when  the limit  for                                                               
caribou is  five per person  would constitute a  travesty against                                                               
prudent  stewardship  of  land  and  wildlife.    The  threat  of                                                               
violence  and lack  of enforcement  presents a  very real  issue.                                                               
She expressed concern for the  wildlife resources if snowmachines                                                               
are allowed access  along the Dalton Highway Corridor.   She also                                                               
expressed concern  that local  residents will  be disenfranchised                                                               
since they rely on the wildlife  resources.  She thought the bill                                                               
would  have irreparable  repercussions and  create hardships  for                                                               
future generations.   The land  and animals have  represented and                                                               
been symbolic  of freedom, balance, hope,  serenity, and purpose.                                                               
She stated that she is opposed to HB 267.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:49:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR P.  WILSON pointed out that  this bill opens up  the Dalton                                                               
Highway Corridor, but the hunting rules will remain same.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON agreed.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:49:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DERRICK MILLER,  Staff, Representative  Mike Kelly,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  on  behalf  of  the   prime  sponsor,  stated  that                                                               
currently,  regulations  are  in  place for  the  Dalton  Highway                                                               
Corridor Management  Area.  These regulations  prohibit motorized                                                               
use to  transport game,  game material,  hunting material  in and                                                               
out  of the  Dalton Highway  Corridor.   These regulations  would                                                               
still remain  under HB 267.   In response to Chair  P. Wilson, he                                                               
stated that the  Board of Game oversees  hunting regulations, and                                                               
have established regulations to  prohibit the use of snowmachines                                                               
to transport  game, game material, and  game tools in and  out of                                                               
the Dalton Highway Corridor.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   P.  WILSON   restated  that   people  still   cannot  use                                                               
snowmachines to hunt.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. MILLER agreed.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:50:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON asked  whether snowmachines can recreate                                                               
by using snowmachines, but cannot use the snowmachines to hunt.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR P.  WILSON recalled  prior testimony.   She said,  "We were                                                               
told that everything  during hunting would be the  same; this was                                                               
just not during hunting.  So that's not a true statement."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. MILLER agreed that it is not a true statement.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR P. WILSON  related her understanding that  hunting will not                                                               
be the  same.  Currently  hunters cannot use snowmachine  if they                                                               
are  hunting.     If  HB   267  passes,  then  hunters   can  use                                                               
snowmachines.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MILLER replied  that this bill does not speak  to any hunting                                                               
regulations.  It  does not touch hunting  regulations or anything                                                               
the Board  of Game oversees.   This bill provides  access through                                                               
the  Dalton Highway  Corridor  via snowmachine.    He said,  "You                                                               
cannot use  your snowmachine to  transport game  in and out.   It                                                               
cannot be used as another tool for hunting."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:52:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHELLE DEVAUL  stated that  she has  been a  tour guide  for 12                                                               
years.  Since  1999, she has been a guide  on the Dalton Highway,                                                               
traveling from  Fairbanks to Deadhorse.   She said she  works for                                                               
second  largest industry,  which is  the visitor  industry.   She                                                               
said she  is passionately  "not supportive"  of HB  267.   She is                                                               
opposed to the  bill because of the overall  negative impact lack                                                               
of infrastructure  and lack  of law enforcement  since an  AST is                                                               
not assigned  to Coldfoot.   She has  often observed  vehicles on                                                               
the road  and is concerned  about increased access to  the Dalton                                                               
Highway.   She  stated that  when she  is on  the Dalton  Highway                                                               
during the summer and winter  she has observed traffic accidents.                                                               
She has even had to take an  injured person to a pump station for                                                               
emergency  treatment.   She  said  that this  area  is an  arctic                                                               
desert with  six inches of  precipitation per year, which  is one                                                               
reason the Prudhoe Bay oilfield  has been restricted and why they                                                               
must use ice roads to traverse  the remote regions.  She reported                                                               
that during the  summer she has not observed any  impact from the                                                               
development in the  region.  She related that during  50s and 60s                                                               
oil  exploration left  cat  tracks from  equipment  use north  of                                                               
Atigun  Pass.    She  disagreed   that  snowmachines  would  have                                                               
decreased impact since  the type of vegetation can  take 50 years                                                               
to grow.  She has observed permanent marks on the landscape.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:55:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KENNETH BARBER stated that he would  like to have an area that is                                                               
accessible to  people.  He  did not think potential  accidents or                                                               
injuries should  be a concern  since accidents  happen throughout                                                               
Alaska.    He said  he  would  like  to  see the  Dalton  Highway                                                               
Corridor open  to more use  than just  snowmachines.  He  said he                                                               
did not see anything wrong with a little scarring.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:56:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CODY STRATHE said that  he is opposed to HB 267.   He stated that                                                               
as  a  graduate  student  at  the University  of  Alaska  he  has                                                               
performed  extensive   archeological  research  in   the  Arctic,                                                               
including Gates  of the  Arctic National  Park which  borders the                                                               
Dalton  Highway Corridor.    He explained  that  the majority  of                                                               
archeological  sites are  not buried,  but are  scattered on  the                                                               
surface  since insufficient  vegetation exists  to rot  and cover                                                               
the remains.   During low snow  years which often occur  north of                                                               
the  Brooks   Range  the  remains   can  be  easily   damaged  by                                                               
snowmachines.   He  thinks there  is a  gross misconception  that                                                               
snowmachines will  not have  an impact  on the  land.   He stated                                                               
that he  owns a snowmachine  and has  observed damage to  his own                                                               
land.   He spent  the last three  years with a  dog sled  team at                                                               
Galbraith Lake, which has huge  windswept areas that snowmachines                                                               
could easily damage  and have a great impact.   He stated that he                                                               
has hunted  caribou in the  area.   He reiterated that  this road                                                               
was  built for  industrial  use  and not  recreational  use.   He                                                               
offered his belief  that the Dalton Highway  Corridor area should                                                               
be managed to protect delicate  ecosystem, coastal resources, and                                                               
subsistence rights that were originally established.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:58:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAD DIESINGER,  Manager, Toolik Field State  Institute of Arctic                                                               
Biology, stated  that a  vast number  of research  plots surround                                                               
the station.   He said that  low snow years would  be detrimental                                                               
to the research plots by  snowmachine use; the plots represent 30                                                               
years worth  of research.   A  second major  concern is  that the                                                               
facility has  an Emergency Medical  Technician (EMT),  and during                                                               
the summer  their EMP  provides the  only emergency  response now                                                               
that the Alaska State Trooper  (AST) at Coldfoot has been removed                                                               
from the post.  He expressed  concern that the bill does not have                                                               
a fiscal note to improve  the emergency response capabilities for                                                               
increased traffic.   He  offered to keep  his comments  short but                                                               
related that other comments made  by testifiers as valid comments                                                               
to consider.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:00:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BARRY WHITEHILL  testified that he  is a hunter.   He is  a rifle                                                               
hunter and must  walk, hike, or float to cross  the corridor.  He                                                               
hunts near  the Dalton Highway  since it is relatively  low cost,                                                               
primarily paid by his own sweat.   He finds the landscape free of                                                               
motorized   conveyances  so   the  hunt   is  truly   an  Alaskan                                                               
experience.  He strongly  opposed HB 267.  He said  it is "just a                                                               
foot in  the door" to open  the Dalton Highway up  to allow other                                                               
conveyances  and   change  the  game   laws  to  allow   ORV  and                                                               
snowmachines for hunting.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:01:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON pointed  out  that  initially the  Alaska                                                               
Highway was  an industrial  corridor for  use exclusively  by the                                                               
military so it is not unusual to change uses.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:02:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TAQUILIK  HEPA,  Director,  Department  of  Wildlife  Management,                                                               
North  Slope  Borough  (NSB),  stated  that  she  is  a  lifelong                                                               
Alaskan.  She  expressed concern for the impact HB  267 will have                                                               
on subsistence  users in Game  Management 26, in  particular, for                                                               
residents  of  Anaktuvuk  Pass,   Nuiqsut,  and  Kaktovik.    She                                                               
anticipated a  dramatic increase of  people would use  the Dalton                                                               
Highway and adjacent corridor for  recreational uses with passage                                                               
of HB 267.  The bill  will provide easy access to areas important                                                               
to the  residents of the  North Slope  for subsistence use.   She                                                               
also  anticipated an  increase in  user  conflicts between  sport                                                               
hunters, recreational  users, and  local subsistence users.   She                                                               
outlined  potential  areas  west   of  highway  that  could  have                                                               
devastating  impact  on  the  caribou  harvest  by  residents  of                                                               
Anaktuvuk Pass area.  Residents  live a nomadic lifestyle and are                                                               
heavily dependent  on caribou and  other game.  When  the caribou                                                               
are not  available and the Dall  Sheep and Musk Oxen  are heavily                                                               
regulated, families in the area  will not have sufficient game to                                                               
meet  their  nutritional  needs.   She  also  has  heard  Nuiqsut                                                               
residents  express  concern  about   recreational  users  on  the                                                               
Colville  River area.    She  pointed out  the  intent of  Dalton                                                               
Highway or  the "Haul Road"  is for industrial purposes.   People                                                               
were told the  Dalton Highway use would be  restricted to protect                                                               
subsistence use.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:05:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  her   to  provide  her  written                                                               
testimony.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DIRK NICKISH, Owner/Operator, Coyote  Air, stated that the DOT&PF                                                               
camps located along the Dalton  Highway are industrial worksites.                                                               
The DOT&PF  manpower have been  cut due to budget  constraints in                                                               
the  past  few  years  and  they neither  have  manpower  or  the                                                               
equipment to  facilitate rescues.   The  campground is  closed at                                                               
Marion  Creek during  the winter  and as  of July  the U.S.  Park                                                               
Service has made  their Park Ranger posting  a seasonal position.                                                               
As previously  mentioned there is  no longer  an AST in  the area                                                               
and it  may be mid-summer  before one is in  the area.   There is                                                               
not any  garbage disposal service  and the EMS  services provided                                                               
by the Alyeska Pipeline Services  Company are voluntary services.                                                               
As  a small  business owner  along the  Dalton Highway,  he often                                                               
picks  up  trash, helps  facilitate  rescues,  and works  on  law                                                               
enforcement issues with Fairbanks.   He stated that he is opposed                                                               
to HB 267 and opening the  Dalton Highway until the questions are                                                               
answered would be negligent.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:08:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WADE  WILLIS  stated  that  hunters  hunt  beyond  the  five-mile                                                               
corridor.   There is not  any long or short-term  management plan                                                               
for  the Northern  Alaska caribou  herd that  migrates along  the                                                               
Dalton  Highway Corridor.   He  anticipated that  it would  bring                                                               
significant impact  to migration  since snowmachine use  would be                                                               
allowed during the  period that caribou are moving  to the spring                                                               
calving  ground and  hunting would  be  allowed in  April on  the                                                               
calving ground.   The impact  will be  tremendous.  The  Board of                                                               
Game just increased the caribou bag  limit to 10 in the Northwest                                                               
section of Game Management Unit  (GMU) 26-B which would allow use                                                               
of snowmachines.  He stated  that this is the traditional hunting                                                               
grounds of  the Nuiqsut residents.   He referred to  the comments                                                               
made at  the Board of  Game meeting.   He related that  no public                                                               
testimony was taken  by the board at the meeting  with respect to                                                               
the  Dalton  Highway,  but  sent  a  letter  supporting  HB  267,                                                               
although no testimony was taken.   He noted that Ben Grussendorf,                                                               
who once served in the  legislature, strongly opposed sending the                                                               
letter.    He  suggested  that  a  stakeholder  group  should  be                                                               
established to  consider opening  up that area  to trapping.   He                                                               
offered his belief that a  reasonable opportunity for subsistence                                                               
should  be   considered.    The  "Haul   Road"  offers  important                                                               
resources to  residents who areas  rely on trapping.   He offered                                                               
to submit comments.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:11:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BERNIE  HICKER,  Wiseman,  Alaska,  stated that  he  has  been  a                                                               
resident of  Dalton Highway Corridor for  the past 27 years.   He                                                               
spoke  in opposition  to  HB 267.    His family  runs  a bed  and                                                               
breakfast,  the Arctic  Getaway, which  serves about  400 people,                                                               
including  Alaskans, who  come there  because of  the wilderness.                                                               
They  can step  off the  side of  the road  and be  in wilderness                                                               
without noise.   He thought  it would be a  shame to open  up the                                                               
area for "the  fun of a few"  to "tear this place up."   He hoped                                                               
the  legislature  would keep  the  area  closed to  snowmachines.                                                               
Many photographers come to photograph  animals in close proximity                                                               
to the  road.   It is  a great  opportunity and  the snowmachines                                                               
would  inhibit  the  ability  to  participate  in  that  type  of                                                               
photography.  He urged members to vote no on HB 267.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:12:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WYN MENEFEE, Chief  of Operations, Division of  Mining, Land, and                                                               
Water, Department  of Natural Resources (DNR),  stated that there                                                               
are  overlapping   restrictions  on  snowmachine  in   the  Umiat                                                               
meridian.   He  said that  anywhere  north of  the meridian  line                                                               
requires a permit for snowmachine use.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  asked  Mr. Menefee  to  identify  the                                                               
latitude or longitude of the meridian line.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MENEFEE  answered that the  area is located  above Chandalar,                                                               
in about the  upper third of the Dalton Highway,  although he did                                                               
not know  the exact mileage.   He  related that anywhere  in that                                                               
region  requires a  special-use  designation and  anyone using  a                                                               
vehicle  must obtain  a permit.   He  said snowmachine  use would                                                               
require  a specific  authorization  any  time of  the  year.   In                                                               
further response  to Chair  P. Wilson,  he stated  that currently                                                               
the  DNR  cannot authorize  recreational  use  of a  snowmachine.                                                               
Under the bill, the DNR  could issue permits for snowmachine use.                                                               
Thus, the bill would broaden what the DNR could authorize.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR P. WILSON related that if  HB 267 bill passes the DNR would                                                               
change its procedures.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MENEFEE  answered  no,  the  procedures  would  not  change.                                                               
However,  it would  change  what  the DNR  could  authorize.   In                                                               
further  response to  Chair P.  Wilson, he  related that  the DNR                                                               
cannot  currently authorize  permits for  snowmachine use  or for                                                               
hunting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:16:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOY WIEBE  stated that she works  as a "haul road"  truck driver.                                                               
She  stated that  she  "runs fuel"  on the  Dalton  Highway.   If                                                               
someone has an  accident and his/her truck runs off  the road the                                                               
truck  will stay  there  until towing  services  can arrive  from                                                               
Fairbanks.  The road barely allows  two trucks to pass and it can                                                               
be  unbelievably icy.   She  thinks that  wolves and  subsistence                                                               
hunters are doing  fine job harvesting the caribou.   She related                                                               
that  the road  is  open  to public,  but  not for  snowmachines.                                                               
People can  cross country ski or  dog mushers can use  the Dalton                                                               
Highway Corridor.   She offered her belief that  the caribou herd                                                               
would  be decimated.    She  related that  pull  outs are  barely                                                               
adequate  and during  storms  are inadequate.    North of  Arctic                                                               
Circle storms  appear suddenly.   "There is absolutely  no rescue                                                               
and in that case would be  recovery," she said.  She concluded by                                                               
stating that she strongly opposes HB 267.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:18:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. WIEBE, in response to  Chair Wilson, suggested that increased                                                               
traffic would  especially impact drivers during  the winter since                                                               
most people  are unfamiliar with  the Dalton Highway and  tend to                                                               
travel right down  the middle of the road.   She related that her                                                               
fuel  truck  weighs between  105,000  to  108,000 pound  and  she                                                               
cannot "stop on  a dime."  She explained that  she slows down for                                                               
cars, but  it also very  difficult to determine the  actual edges                                                               
of  the road.   She  offered her  belief that  only two  outhouse                                                               
facilities are  available on the Dalton  Highway between Coldfoot                                                               
and Deadhorse,  including one at  the shelf  and one at  mile 62.                                                               
She noted  that she has  been afraid to  stop at the  outhouse at                                                               
mile 62 since trash piles up and creates a bear hazard.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:20:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR P.  WILSON asked  for information on  what would  happen if                                                               
her truck became involved in an accident.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. WIEBE  answered that if  her truck  were to hit  someone that                                                               
the  occupants  of the  vehicle  would  not  have any  chance  of                                                               
survival so she would rather go into the ditch herself.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:21:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DANE  CROWLEY,   Executive  Director,  Sportsmen  for   Fish  and                                                               
Wildlife   (SFFW),  stated   that   the  SFFW   is  a   statewide                                                               
organization  represents   several  thousand  Alaskans.     Their                                                               
mission  is to  ensure the  state has  an abundance  of resources                                                               
available  and to  provide access  to the  resources.   He stated                                                               
that  the purpose  of  the  Dalton Highway  Corridor  was to  not                                                               
interfere with  subsistence hunting  by not  allowing snowmachine                                                               
use in  the corridor.  The  assumption has been that  access will                                                               
"wreck  something."    Currently,  the  Dalton  Highway  Corridor                                                               
management is  inconsistent since  some residents  are disallowed                                                               
access.   This  bill  is  not about  hunting,  but would  provide                                                               
access to state lands from a  state highway.  He urged members to                                                               
review the  statute.  He maintained  that this bill is  not about                                                               
hunting but is about access to public land.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:23:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  expressed  concern  about  the  public                                                               
safety along the  Dalton Highway Corridor.  He hoped  that as the                                                               
subcommittee  performs it  work that  the lives  and property  of                                                               
residents along the Dalton Highway Corridor will be protected.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. CROWLEY offered to send in additional comments.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:24:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHARLES  DERRICK   stated  that  he  previously   worked  on  the                                                               
TransAlaska  pipeline  and  has  traveled most  of  the  pipeline                                                               
length.  He  said he is retired, owns snow  machines, a satellite                                                               
phone and  would like to  be able to  travel in the  early spring                                                               
but cannot currently  do so.  He  said he does not  wish to hunt,                                                               
but would  like to do  some ice fishing  and explore some  of the                                                               
lakes in  the Dalton Highway Corridor.   He spoke in  favor of HB
267.  He asked what measures  the DOT&PF has taken to improve the                                                               
Dalton Highway,  including adding pullouts.   He related  that he                                                               
heard for  years that insufficient pullouts  and facilities exist                                                               
along the Dalton  Highway.  He did not understand  why DOT&PF has                                                               
not taken any action to make improvements.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[HB 267 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:27:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB257 cell phone ban sponsor stmt.pdf HTRA 2/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HTRA 3/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 257
HB257 cell phone ban sectional.pdf HTRA 2/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HTRA 3/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 257
hb257 cell phone ban backup.pdf HTRA 2/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HTRA 3/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 257
HB357 sponsor stmt.pdf HTRA 3/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 357
HB357 back up.pdf HTRA 3/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 357
HB267 sponsor stmt TRA.pdf HTRA 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HTRA 3/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 267
hb 267 backup TRA.pdf HTRA 3/11/2010 1:00:00 PM
HTRA 3/16/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 267