FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2018
House Approves an Update to State Law to Protect Alaska’s Forested Lands
HB 355 Makes Needed Changes to Crimes Related to the Burning of Forested Lands
Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed a bill updating state law related to the burning of forested lands. House Bill 355 is sponsored by Representative David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks).
“Most of the laws in Alaska related to burning offenses have not been updated since the early 60’s, which results in enforcement gaps and legal confusion. By modernizing our wildland fire prevention and enforcement statutes we can deter irresponsible and negligent burning, which in turn will reduce the risk to human life and the loss of homes and property,” said Rep. Guttenberg.
Currently, Alaska’s burning offenses are unclassified misdemeanors that require a mandatory court appearance and are 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, similar to fish and game violations. The bill also gives state fire prevention officers the authority to issue citations for violations of the wildland fire statutes.
According to a fiscal note attached to the bill, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does not anticipate any direct fiscal impact from the passage of HB 355. DNR notes that costs associated with updating regulations or training for fire prevention staff will be absorbed by the department.
The Alaska House of Representatives passed House Bill 355 today by a vote of 28-10. After a reconsideration vote as soon as Monday, the bill will be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.
For more information, please contact Alliana Salanguit in Rep. Guttenberg’s office at (907) 465-4457.