Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/11/1996 03:37 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
         HB 212 TIMBER MANAGEMENT & STATE LAND CLASSIF.                       
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN announced  HB 212  to be up for consideration.                
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JEANETTE JAMES, sponsor, said she filed this bill at           
 the request of timber industry constituents in Fairbanks.  These              
 are small lumber businesses in the local communities whose lives              
 have been impacted by the overly complicated procedures through               
 which they have to go to secure timber.  It wasn't the lack of                
 timber; it was the inability of the DNR to allow the harvesting of            
 the resource.                                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked what the comma on page 1, line 14 meant.                 
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES replied that the comma was added in the House            
 Resources Committee and the emphasis makes a difference in the way            
 the sentence reads.  The comma refers to the best available data              
 and then describes the best available data as opposed to the                  
 agencies describing it.                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR said he would like to delete the comma and asked her           
 to comment on using "use" instead of "consumption."  REPRESENTATIVE           
 JAMES explained that there was a concern with a number of people              
 that there is human use other than consumption.                               
                                                                               
 JACK PHELPS, Alaska Forest Association, said they continue to                 
 support this legislation and thought it would make some positive              
 changes for the forest industry particularly in the interior and              
 possibly southcentral.                                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the negotiation on the House side included            
 the administration.  MR. PHELPS answered that was correct; he added           
 that public comment was also part of the negotiations.  He asked if           
 he has assurances that this will be signed into law.  MR. PHELPS              
 said they had been given some strong assurances that the bill would           
 be signed in its present form.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 351                                                                    
                                                                               
 CLIFF EAMES, Alaska Center for the Environment, commended the                 
 House, the Administration, and the Board of Forestry for their                
 work; the bill is close to something they can support.                        
                                                                               
 Their concern is with the 160 acre exemption from the five year               
 schedule requirement.  He said in the interior and Kenai there are            
 a number of timber sales off of State lands that are 160 acres and            
 less and they are very important to people in their cumulative                
 affect.  They supported the compromise proposed by the Board of               
 Forestry, recognizing that it is a well balanced Board.  The                  
 present requirement is that sales appear for two years on a five              
 year schedule.  The present bill would exempt the sales of 160                
 acres or less entirely from the five year schedule; the compromise            
 proposed by the Board of Forestry would have those sales appear               
 just one year on the five year schedule.  They believe that would             
 give adequate notice to the public of the full range of sales that            
 are proposed to be offered without burdening the State and without            
 having any undue affect on the actual selling of those sales.  He             
 didn't think the Board of Forestry could make a strong argument               
 that having those sales appear just once on the schedule is going             
 to be any significant obstacle to their management of the sales.              
                                                                               
 He urged the committee to adopt the Board of Forestry's proposed              
 compromise.                                                                   
                                                                               
 ERIK HOLLAND, Fairbanks, said that a number of local loggers have             
 told him that exporting is killing and that the scale of the bill             
 is too large and the part of the bill they like best is the first             
 part where the 10 acres are exempted.  The 160 acre exemption                 
 doesn't seem to help very much.  He suggested exempting two or                
 three parcels a year.  All the loggers have told him that they need           
 the wood yesterday.  He is in support of a truly sustainable local            
 industry.                                                                     
                                                                               
 DAN RITZMAN, Northern Alaska Environmental Lobby, recognized and              
 appreciated the efforts of the House members and Representative               
 James in particular.  He said HB 212 makes substantial changes to             
 Title 38 and 41, statutes which cover the entire State, not just              
 small sales by Interior operators.                                            
                                                                               
 The development of the Forest Resources and Practices Act                     
 represented a lot of work from a variety of interests including the           
 timber industry, the fishing industry, conservation organizations,            
 and many others.  Changes are not needed in the law; changes are              
 needed in the funding, implementation, and regulations that the               
 agency uses to carry out the law.                                             
                                                                               
 This legislation will further stress the Department and put                   
 Alaska's population of fish and wildlife at further risk.  A fiscal           
 note should be required of this legislation which takes into                  
 account the unfunded Forest Practices responsibilities to DNR, DEC,           
 and ADF&G.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Eliminating the five year schedule requirement for sales of 160               
 acres or less would mean that over 70 percent of the sales in the             
 Interior and a fair number of sales on the Kenai would not have to            
 appear on the schedule.  It is nearly impossible to learn about               
 individual sales from their individual announcements which are                
 buried in the legal section of the newspaper.  This does not give             
 a good sense of the overall picture for the region.                           
                                                                               
 MR. RITZMAN reiterated that the Board of Forestry which has                   
 representatives from logging companies, fishing communities,                  
 conservation organizations, recreation, and fish and wildlife                 
 sciences recommended that all sales be listed at least once on a              
 five year schedule.                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 261                                                                    
                                                                               
 Finally, section 11, page 5, lines 20 - 24 is a wildlife issue that           
 shouldn't be a part of the Forest Resources and Practices Act.                
 While it is appropriate to put wildlife protections in the Act,               
 management of wildlife is not a DNR function.                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to amend page 1, line 14 to delete the comma.            
 There were no objections and it was so ordered.                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to pass SCSCSHB 212(FIN) from committee with             
 individual recommendations.  There were no objections and it was so           
 ordered.                                                                      
                                                                               
 MR. WHEELER, Alaska Environmental Lobby, said they still have a few           
 problems with the bill as drafted.  They would like to see sales of           
 160 acres or less appear at least once in the five year schedule.             
 The Board of Forestry presents a good vehicle for hashing out                 
 language that represents a lot of diverse interests and should be             
 listened to in this matter.                                                   
                                                                               
 Section 11 should be deleted also.  Wildlife management is not a              
 function of DNR and should not be a part of this bill.                        
 The language in section 7 is not a great improvement over the prior           
 language and they would like to see the prior language kept as is.            

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