Sitnews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska - Opinions


USDA Forest Service offers timber sale contract
cancellations to Southeast lumber companies


January 11, 2004
Sunday - 12:10 am

In order to save money for taxpayers and preserve jobs in the local forest economy, several timber sale contracts on the Tongass National Forest may be cancelled by mutual agreement this year. Twenty sales on the Tongass meet the criteria for mutual cancellations provided in Section 339 of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriation Act for fiscal year 2004.

According to the Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service may cancel, with the consent of the timber purchaser, timber sale contracts on the Tongass National Forest awarded between Oct. 1, 1995, and Jan. 1, 2002. USDA must determine that the sale would result in a financial loss to the purchaser; and that the costs to the government of seeking a legal remedy against the purchaser would likely exceed the cost of terminating the contract.

"We're making this adjustment in business practices to help our struggling, family-owned timber business to stay alive in these difficult times," Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole said. "They are an important spoke in the economic wheel of Southeast Alaska," he added.

All 20 sales are viewed as uneconomical under current timber markets, and it is highly unlikely that markets will improve enough for them to become economical during the life of the timber sale contract, Cole noted. If the sales were not cancelled, the purchasers would lose enough money to force some or all of them into bankruptcy.

The Forest Service planned to send letters to the purchasers Friday offering the opportunity to cancel the qualifying sales. Timber purchasers have until Sept. 30, 2004, to respond. The 20 sales range in size from 72,000 board feet to 35 million board feet and comprise a total of about 138 million board feet of timber. The timber included in these contract cancellations may be available for resale.


Source of News Release:

USFS - Tongass National Forest
Web Site


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