Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/04/1996 09:25 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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  CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 212(FIN)                                               
                                                                               
       An  Act  relating to  the  management and  sale of                      
       state timber and relating to the administration of                      
       forest land and classification of state land.                           
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Halford directed that CSHB  212 (Fin) be brought                 
  on  for  discussion  and  referenced  SCS  CSHB  212  (Res).                 
  BARBARA COTTING, aide to  Representative James, came  before                 
  committee.  She  directed attention  to a sponsor  statement                 
  and bill analysis  (copies on  file in  the original  Senate                 
  Finance Committee file for HB 212).   She explained that the                 
  bill  was introduced at  the request of  constituents in the                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  timber industry in Fairbanks.   It has subsequently received                 
  wide  state support.   Interested constituents are operators                 
  of small timber businesses in local communities.  Operations                 
  have  been impacted  by  overly complicated  procedures that                 
  must be endured  to secure timber from the state.  It is not                 
  a  lack  of timber  but inability  of  the Dept.  of Natural                 
  Resources to allow harvesting that has caused the problem.                   
                                                                               
  Current Title 38 statutes, requiring five-year  planning and                 
  three-year updates, make continuation of an ongoing industry                 
  very  difficult.   Well-managed  timber harvesting  not only                 
  creates and supports jobs and a healthy  economy, it creates                 
  and  supports healthy  forests.  Communities  are prohibited                 
  from  developing  basic  timber  industries  necessary   for                 
  maintaining  strong  forest  ecology and  a  strong economic                 
  environment.                                                                 
                                                                               
  HB 212 provides  flexibility to the division of  forestry to                 
  meet the needs of small timber operators in a timely manner.                 
  It also makes small adjustments to  Title 28 and 41 intended                 
  to secure a sustainable forest  products industry.  A  truly                 
  cooperative effect  stemming from introduction last year and                 
  work during the interim resulted in  the bill in its current                 
  form.                                                                        
                                                                               
  In  response  to  a  question  from Senator  Randy  Phillips                 
  regarding the  planning process,  Ms.  Cotting advised  that                 
  sales  of  ten  acres  or  less  would be  exempt  from  all                 
  requirements of the forest land use plan.  An additional key                 
  provision is that  small sales are  defined as 160 acres  or                 
  less.  The division of forestry will closely monitor  sales.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  TOM BOUTIN, State  Forester, Division of Forestry,  Dept. of                 
  Natural Resources, came before committee.  In response to an                 
  inquiry from Senator Zharoff regarding operation of the ten-                 
  acre exemption, Mr. Boutin explained that sales now "have to                 
  go through two,  separate, unrelated processes."   They have                 
  to be in  the five-year schedule for at least  the two prior                 
  years.  Each sale also  has to have a forest land-use  plan.                 
  The latter is used to substantiate the best-interest finding                 
  needed for disposal of any state land-use resource.  Section                 
  1 of the  bill remove the requirement for sales of ten acres                 
  or less.   It would also mean that the  department would not                 
  have  to  prepare a  plan when  it sells  timber and  is not                 
  involved in the harvest.  He cited, as an example, a raft of                 
  timber  stolen  from state  land  which was  ultimately made                 
  available for fire wood because sale by the state would have                 
  required the expensive public process involved in developing                 
  a  land  use plan.   Section  1  would have  alleviated that                 
  situation.  Mr. Boutin  cited the situation at the  Ft. Knox                 
  project as a further example.                                                
                                                                               
  Co-chairman  Halford asked  if the  department supports  the                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  bill.  Mr. Boutin replied that  all concerns raised when the                 
  bill was introduced have now been answered.  He acknowledged                 
  concern by  the environmental community  regarding exemption                 
  of  sales  of  160 acres  or  less.    Aside from  emergency                 
  situations, the division is committed  to "having every sale                 
  in the five-year  schedule."   The division will  work on  a                 
  department order that  will define  that.  Information  from                 
  operators  indicates  that the  market  window can  open and                 
  close in a two-year period.                                                  
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Frank  MOVED for passage  of SCS CSHB  212 (Res)                 
  with  individual  recommendations  and  accompanying  fiscal                 
  notes.  No objection having been  raised, SCS CSHB 212 (Res)                 
  was REPORTED OUT of committee with a ($3.0) fiscal note from                 
  the Dept. of Natural Resources, $19.6 note from the Dept. of                 
  Fish  and  Game,  and   a  zero  note  from  the   Dept.  of                 
  Environmental Conservation.   Co-chairmen Halford  and Frank                 
  and  Senator Rieger signed  the committee report  with a "do                 
  pass"  recommendation.    Senators   Donley,  Phillips,  and                 
  Zharoff signed "no recommendation."                                          
                                                                               

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