Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/11/1996 03:37 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.