Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

03/27/2009 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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Moved SCS CSHCR 2(RES) Out of Committee
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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
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Moved CSSB 54(RES) Out of Committee
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<Meeting Will Run to 5:30>
             SB 108-STAMPEDE STATE RECREATION AREA                                                                          
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI announced the consideration of SB 108.                                                                    
SENATOR JOE THOMAS, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of SB 108                                                                 
read the following:                                                                                                             
     SB 108 will preserve the  traditional uses of this area                                                                    
     by  creating the  Stampede Recreation  Area within  the                                                                    
     stampede  corridor. Several  years ago  former Governor                                                                    
     Murkowski proposed  to build a road  through this area.                                                                    
     The  planned road  was  vehemently  opposed by  borough                                                                    
     residents as  well as the recreational  and traditional                                                                    
     user groups who  had an interest in  keeping things the                                                                    
     way they are.                                                                                                              
     In an effort to preserve  the area for use by residents                                                                    
     and  visitors, the  Denali  Borough  Assembly passed  a                                                                    
     resolution  calling   on  the  Alaska   Legislature  to                                                                    
     designate   the   corridor   as  the   Stampede   State                                                                    
     Recreation  Area   with  a  strong  emphasis   on  self                                                                    
     determination by the residents and users of the area.                                                                      
     Current  use of  the  area includes  off  road and  all                                                                    
     terrain  vehicle use,  watercraft use,  snow machining,                                                                    
     horseback  riding,  hiking,  bicycling,  dog  sledding,                                                                    
     cross   country   skiing,  ski   journeying,   camping,                                                                    
     hunting,  fishing, wildlife  viewing, and  photography.                                                                    
     All these  activities would be protected  and preserved                                                                    
     under this proposed  legislation. Recreational users of                                                                    
     the  area  come  from the  Denali  Borough,  Fairbanks,                                                                    
     MatSu,  and Anchorage.  Tourist and  adventurers travel                                                                    
     to the  area from across  the globe. The  area supports                                                                    
     several  tourism related  businesses including  several                                                                    
     lodges  and  road  touring   companies  that  rent  all                                                                    
     terrain  vehicles   for  use  on  the   more  primitive                                                                    
     sections of the trail.                                                                                                     
     The bill  is supported by the  Denali Borough Assembly,                                                                    
     the  Denali   Chamber  of   Commerce,  the…neighborhood                                                                    
     associated with homes located  along the Stampede Road,                                                                    
     and  the  Denali  Citizens  Council.  Additionally,  my                                                                    
     staff and  I have  hosted several  constituent meetings                                                                    
     on  the  proposed  legislation  in  Fairbanks  and  the                                                                    
     Denali  Borough. By  and large,  the  proposed area  is                                                                    
     supported by local residents and  trail users. The main                                                                    
     impetus behind the legislation is to protect the area                                                                      
     for continued traditional use.                                                                                             
4:28:30 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH noted that the area is quite large.                                                                              
JOE HARDENBROOK, Staff, to Senator  Joe Thomas, said the proposed                                                               
recreation area  is roughly  ten miles north  to south  and 35-40                                                               
miles east to west.                                                                                                             
MR. HARDENBROOK noted that there  is a draft committee substitute                                                               
(CS)  that  makes  a  technical  correction.  The  original  bill                                                               
incorrectly included  reference to  Sec. 41.21.407 and  the draft                                                               
CS corrects the reference to Sec. 41.21.405.                                                                                    
DAVE TALIRICO, Mayor, Denali Borough,  thanked Senator Thomas and                                                               
said  that the  borough assembly  supports  SB 108.  The area  is                                                               
heavily used by local and distant residents year round.                                                                         
4:31:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SUSAN  BRAWN, representing  herself, said  she owns  land on  the                                                               
Savage River  in the  proposed recreation  area. She  supports SB
108 because it will let people use  the land as they have for the                                                               
past  30   years.  The  constituent  meetings   showed  there  is                                                               
tremendous  support  for this  from  the  community. People  want                                                               
traditional uses to be recognized  as important. That is why they                                                               
live in Alaska.                                                                                                                 
4:33:05 PM                                                                                                                    
BROOKS LUDWIG,  Superintendent, Northern Area, Division  of Parks                                                               
&  Outdoor Recreation,  Department  of  Natural Resources  (DNR),                                                               
Fairbanks, said he's been involved  in a grassroots effort. There                                                               
is a lot of public support  for the area and traditional uses. He                                                               
is committed  to involving locals  in the public process  so that                                                               
the recreation area meets their demands.                                                                                        
STEWART  CUBLEY,  landowner,  said  he is  a  potential  inholder                                                               
within the  proposed recreation  area. He supports  SB 108  as an                                                               
important  step in  preserving traditional  uses. In  his 30-year                                                               
residency  he has  traveled  the  area by  dog  team, skis,  snow                                                               
machine,  and  helicopter.  It  is  best for  the  land  and  the                                                               
inhabitants to pass this bill.                                                                                                  
4:35:05 PM                                                                                                                    
JULIA POTTER,  representing herself,  said she  is a  resident of                                                               
the  Denali  Borough. She  volunteers  in  the community  and  is                                                               
employed  by the  Denali  Citizens Council.  As  a resident,  she                                                               
wants her  way of life protected.  Part of that is  having access                                                               
the Stampede  area for recreation. She  uses the area for  a wide                                                               
variety  of recreational  activities and  she knows  that SB  108                                                               
will support  those traditional uses.  She noted that  the Denali                                                               
Chamber  of  Commerce  also  supports  the  legislation.  Several                                                               
members own tourism services and  it's well known that the Denali                                                               
Borough  depends   on  tourism.   Creating  the   Stampede  State                                                               
Recreation Area will allow visitors  to experience the Alaska way                                                               
of life  while supporting the  economy of the borough.  The Parks                                                               
Highway  Community  Partnership   recognizes  the  importance  of                                                               
creating  the proposed  recreation  area. It  will stimulate  the                                                               
local economy.  The Denali Citizens  Council initiated  an online                                                               
petition asking  members and local  citizens to show  support for                                                               
SB 108. To date they have received 110 signatures.                                                                              
4:38:09 PM                                                                                                                    
HANNAH RAGLAND,  representing herself, said she  supports SB 108.                                                               
She owns 13 dogs and  regularly uses the proposed recreation area                                                               
both  with her  dogs  and  without on  a  year  round basis.  The                                                               
overwhelming sentiment  in the  neighborhood is  to see  the area                                                               
unchanged,  which  means  that  the  land  needs  to  be  managed                                                               
responsibly. She  asked that the  state consider  including Eight                                                               
Mile Lake  in future legislation. It  is a main access  point and                                                               
would make  management easier  for the state.  She would  like to                                                               
see the state manage use in the  area and she would also like the                                                               
community to be involved in the process.                                                                                        
4:41:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHARLIE  LOEB,  representing  himself,   said  he  owns  property                                                               
adjacent to  the proposed  recreation area and  he uses  the area                                                               
for a wide  variety of activities. He is  extremely supportive of                                                               
the legislation  because it will protect  existing uses. Interest                                                               
in the area  is growing and management is  needed. A recreational                                                               
area  designation  will  provide  the opportunity  to  develop  a                                                               
management  plan that  will accommodate  this increased  use. The                                                               
area has  the potential to be  a real asset to  the state because                                                               
of its  proximity to Denali  National Park and the  scenic byway,                                                               
but it will only be  realized with good management. He encouraged                                                               
the committee to amend the bill  to including the Eight Mile Lake                                                               
area  because  it is  the  gateway  to  the recreation  area.  He                                                               
reiterated his support for SB 108.                                                                                              
4:45:20 PM                                                                                                                    
MARY  SIROKI, Legislative  Liaison, Department  of Transportation                                                               
and Public  Facilities (DOTPF),  Juneau, said  the administration                                                               
believes it  is in the  best interest of  the state to  reserve a                                                               
transportation   and  utility   corridor  through   the  proposed                                                               
recreation  area.  In  1998 the  Legislature  passed  legislation                                                               
relating  to rights-of-way  for RS  2477 trails  reserving, among                                                               
other areas, the  Stampede Trail. Although there  are no specific                                                               
plans for a road  or utility now or in the  near future, it makes                                                               
sense  to reserve  the option  for future  generations. Doing  so                                                               
should not impact how the recreation area is managed.                                                                           
DOTPF  issues   permits  for  activities  and   rights-of-way  as                                                               
standard  practice  and will  work  with  DNR  to find  the  best                                                               
locations  for  facilities  that may  be  constructed  including:                                                               
outhouses,  campgrounds, benches,  and pullouts.  DOTPF would  do                                                               
the same  for a private entity  upon request from DNR.  If in the                                                               
future   a  road   is  constructed,   DOTPF   will  avoid   those                                                               
improvements or it will move them.                                                                                              
MS.  SIROKY said  it's good  to  remember that  reservation of  a                                                               
transportation  and  utility   right-of-way  does  not  eliminate                                                               
DOTPF's  responsibility to  work  with a  community to  determine                                                               
what is  in the best  interest of that community  and neighboring                                                               
communities. DOTPF  respects that some  in the Denali  Borough do                                                               
not want  a Stampede Road, and  wants it understood that  this is                                                               
not a backdoor attempt to build a road.                                                                                         
4:48:10 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  asked if SB  108 reserves a  right-of-way through                                                               
the proposed recreation area.                                                                                                   
MS. SIROKI said no.                                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR  MCGUIRE asked  if she  has an  amendment to  accomplish                                                               
that goal.                                                                                                                      
MS.  SIROKI said  she has  some language  requesting 500  feet on                                                               
either side  of the center line  of the RS 2477  trail. That will                                                               
provide room to put a road where  it makes most sense. "So we can                                                               
straighten out the  trail where it makes sense  to straighten out                                                               
the  trail  or we  can  avoid  wetlands  or historic  areas."  It                                                               
doesn't mean  1,000 feet are  needed once a road  is constructed,                                                               
or should it be constructed.                                                                                                    
4:49:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH said  the  last time  the road  idea  came up  he                                                               
challenged  the commissioner  of DOTPF  to  look at  it, "and  we                                                               
did."  That experience  showed him  the deep  opposition to  that                                                               
idea from  the community  and the  extraordinary costs  the state                                                               
would incur  if it decided  to build a  road. He said  he doesn't                                                               
know how  serious the committee  is in granting the  department a                                                               
1,000-foot  wide easement.  He  observed that  it's  not quite  a                                                               
quarter of a mile, but it's close.                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  said it is  probably enough for  an 8-lane                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS  said with traditional trails  and rights-of-way,                                                               
it exists whether it is designated or not.                                                                                      
4:50:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SIROKI  said there  is  what's  called  the 4-F  section  in                                                               
federal legislation  that requires DOTPF  to achieve a  very high                                                               
bar  should federal  dollars be  used for  any road.  Without the                                                               
reservation of a  right-of-way it would be very  difficult to put                                                               
in a road. It is important to  realize that DOTPF is asking for a                                                               
reservation for  planning purposes  down the line.  "We recognize                                                               
that currently  there is no  desire to put  a road in,  but we're                                                               
reserving it  for the  future and for  utilities…. We  don't know                                                               
that 30 or 40  years from now it won't make sense  to make a loop                                                               
come  through  Denali  Park."  That  is  certainly  not  part  of                                                               
anyone's plan now, but DOTPF doesn't want to preclude it.                                                                       
SENATOR FRENCH  said the suggestion  that someday there may  be a                                                               
loop is not outlandish. However,  this has been a most remarkable                                                               
hearing given  the one-sided nature  of the testimony.  There are                                                               
many tourism people  who focus on this part of  the world, and he                                                               
expected to see  diverse views with people asking not  to lock up                                                               
more of  Alaska. "I didn't  hear a  single person ask  for that."                                                               
That speaks volumes about what the community wants.                                                                             
4:52:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. SIROKI  said she  believes that  communities did  speak about                                                               
access,  and  DOTPF's  proposal doesn't  prohibit  citizens  from                                                               
having the traditional access they want.                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  the  sponsor  to  comment  on  the                                                               
administration's proposal.                                                                                                      
SENATOR THOMAS said it is a  rather wide right-of-way, and it has                                                               
been opposed. Over time there may  be some need for the right-of-                                                               
way, but this  bill doesn't preclude that. He is  willing to talk                                                               
to the administration  about its needs, but the public  is not in                                                               
favor of what DOTPF is proposing.                                                                                               
SENATOR  FRENCH suggested  the sponsor  ask legislative  legal if                                                               
this bill will preclude a road forever more.                                                                                    
MR. HARDENBROOK directed attention to  a map showing the Stampede                                                               
Road and  Trail and  Eight Mile  Lake, which is  the extent  of a                                                               
passable  road  by  standard  car.   The  Department  of  Natural                                                               
Resources  (DNR) said  the purpose  of an  established recreation                                                               
area is  to maintain recreational  access and use,  as determined                                                               
by the commissioner.  After the creation of  the recreation area,                                                               
the commissioner of DNR would  determine whether a road would fit                                                               
with the stated purpose of the designated area.                                                                                 
4:56:50 PM                                                                                                                    
JAMES KING,  Director, Division of Parks  and Outdoor Recreation,                                                               
Department  of  Natural  Resources  (DNR)  said  Mr.  Hardenbrook                                                               
explained  it  correctly.  A state  recreation  area  designation                                                               
doesn't preclude a road; the  important thing is that there would                                                               
be a planning  process to come up with a  management plan. If the                                                               
community and Alaskans and the park  all said it would make sense                                                               
to build  a loop road  through the  national park that  comes out                                                               
through the  Stampede Recreation  Area it  would be  an allowable                                                               
use.  If the  road  is  for a  recreational  or a  transportation                                                               
purpose, it  can be allowed. SB  108 will not preclude  that. Joe                                                               
HARDENBROOK  was  right  in  saying  it  is  a  decision  that  a                                                               
commissioner  can  make.  The  Division   of  Parks  and  Outdoor                                                               
Recreation doesn't see a road as  a necessarily bad thing, and it                                                               
could be a legitimate use if the public wants it.                                                                               
4:58:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if he is saying that  the state doesn't                                                               
need to reserve a right-of-way at this point.                                                                                   
MR. KING said, "Creating the  recreation area does not preclude a                                                               
road in the future."                                                                                                            
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  the   difference  between  the  proposed                                                               
Stampede area and Nancy Lake.                                                                                                   
MR. KING  said it would  be similar,  but the important  thing is                                                               
that the  management would  be dictated  by the  management plan,                                                               
which would be  developed with a public process.  Through that it                                                               
is very likely  that motorized and nonmotorized use  will be very                                                               
legitimate and can coexist in the area.                                                                                         
5:00:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  said that  at Nancy Lake  there has  been debate                                                               
about accessibility and  now the state is  re-examining the width                                                               
of the  corridor. It appears  to be  a lot more  complicated than                                                               
what Mr. King indicated, he said.                                                                                               
MR. KING  said the  issues are more  complicated for  Nancy Lake.                                                               
That management  plan was created  almost 20 years ago,  and most                                                               
of the lakes  were accessed by people who had  floatplanes. A new                                                               
generation  of users  has moved  into those  cabins, and  there's                                                               
been  more  demand  to  access  them  by  snowmobiles  and  four-                                                               
wheelers. "We're  trying to find  that balance." Right  now about                                                               
half of  the users still  want plane  access only, and  the other                                                               
half  want to  see that  changed. That  is why  the state  is re-                                                               
opening the management plan, "and  we're going out to the public"                                                               
and asking what they want for  management in the area. Whenever a                                                               
lot of  people have  a lot  of ownership  in an  area, management                                                               
decisions takes a  fair amount of work to find  a balance between                                                               
user groups.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS asked  if it would strike a balance  to adopt the                                                               
corridor for the  Stampede with a "qualifier" that  it would take                                                               
legislative approval to develop it.                                                                                             
5:02:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  KING said  he  doesn't  see his  division  having  a lot  of                                                               
opposition  to a  road if  that's what  everybody wants.  "If you                                                               
feel that's important  to make it so that the  Legislature has to                                                               
approve that in  the future, then that would make  sense. I guess                                                               
my opinion would be, at this  point, the DNR and the DOTPF should                                                               
be given that  authority to go through that  planning process and                                                               
figure out what the public wants  and what the demands are." It's                                                               
a road  to nowhere unless the  National Park Service agrees  to a                                                               
road  through  the  national  park.  There is  a  lot  of  public                                                               
planning  that would  have to  happen  before any  road would  be                                                               
built,  unless the  management plan  shows the  public wants  the                                                               
existing road to  be pushed into the recreation  area further for                                                               
recreational  access. That's  a very  doable thing  that probably                                                               
wouldn't take  as big  a process because  it doesn't  involve the                                                               
surrounding national park.                                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI   announced  he  would  hold   SB  108  in                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HCR 2 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 3/27/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 108 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 3/27/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 108
SB 54 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 3/27/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 54
SB 71 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 3/27/2009 3:30:00 PM
SB 71
SJR 16 - Bill Packet.pdf SRES 3/27/2009 3:30:00 PM