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Representative Gail Phillips Session:
State Capitol, Room 411
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-2689
Fax: (907) 465-3472
Send E-Mail

Sponsor Statement for HB 23
Forest Practices: Streams/Tributaries

An Act classifying anadromous streams and tributaries; relating to the designation of riparian areas; establishing buffers on certain streams and relating to slope stability standards on certain streams; and requiring retention of low value timber along certain water bodies where prudent..

Posted: February 22, 2000
Contact: Representative Gail Phillips's office at (907) 465-2689

Thanks to a major cooperative effort between timber and fishing industries, environmental groups and state agencies, we have proposed legislation designed to improve present Forest Practices Act safeguards. This cooperation represents a commitment from these groups to periodically reevaluate the Forest Practices Act's protections for Alaska's streams.

At last month's meeting, the Board heard the recommendations and endorsed a series of amendments to the Forest Practices Act that had broad consensus support from all the participants. The cooperation shown by Board members and the implementation group is indeed laudable; and as a result, we are now looking forward to better protections for our valuable salmon resources without unreasonable cost to industry or private owners.

These amendments add several important protective measures to the riparian protection standards established in statute for private forest lands in the coastal forests of Region I. (For clarification riparian means living or located near a stream or river bank).

In essence, the changes will accomplish the following:

  • All segments of anadromous streams will now be classified as to "type." (Anadromous refers to streams or rivers having fish traveling upriver to spawn).

The scientific definitions of the streams are contained in the bill language, but for purposes of our discussion here, stream and tributary classifications range from Type A to D, depending on stream size, steepness and bank structure.

  • No-cut buffer zones will be extended to ALL anadromous streams, relative to "type."

While the 1990 FPA legislation required a 66-foot no-cut zone along the most important salmon streams on private lands, the proposed legislation will require this buffer along ALL streams, irrespective of stream characteristics. Additionally, operations within 100 feet of the stream, or at least to the break of the slope, must be conducted in compliance with established slope stability standards for Type A, B, C and D streams.

  • Low-value timber along Type C and D streams will be retained where prudent, so that the large woody debris may eventually travel downstream where it forms natural pools, important habitat for juvenile fish.

The State of Alaska has one of the most effective Forest Practices Acts in the nation. I believe the collaborative process undertaken by the stakeholders in defining and agreeing to necessary protections is extremely valuable. It is the first step forward in our continued path toward managing our marketable resources while protecting our natural resources for future generations.

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