Alaska Legislature Votes to Protect Alaska’s Forested Lands

HB 355 Makes Needed Changes to Crimes Related to the Burning of Forested Lands

Juneau – The Alaska Legislature passed a bill Thursday sponsored by retiring State Representative David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks) to update state law related to the burning of forested lands. House Bill 355 passed the Alaska State Senate Thursday after passing the Alaska House of Representatives last month.

“Alaska cannot afford to keep having wildland fires the size of Delaware. House Bill 355 increases accountability and is a proactive step in forest fire prevention. It will increase public safety and reduce the loss of life and property due to irresponsible and negligent burning,” said Rep. Guttenberg.

Current state law characterizes all burning offenses as unclassified misdemeanors that require a mandatory court appearance that is punishable by a fine of between $100 to $1,000 or 10 days to 6 months imprisonment. HB 355 replaces the current system with a tiered prevention and enforcement structure that looks similar to how the state handles fish and game violations.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirms that costs associated with updating regulations or training for fire prevention staff will be absorbed by the department with no additional cost to the State of Alaska.

House Bill 355 passed the Alaska State Senate Thursday by a vote of 15-4. The bill passed the Alaska House of Representatives in April by a vote of 28-10. The House voted today to concur with the changes made in the Senate by a vote of 31-8. House Bill 355 will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

For more information, please contact Alliana Salanguit in Rep. Guttenberg’s office at (907) 465-4457.

Mike Mason
Press Secretary, Alaska House Majority Coalition
Phone: (907) 444-0889

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