By Larry Jackson
February 25, 2007
There is a pool of first growth, or old growth volume in the state of Alaska. If we can step away from the rhetoric that these trees are barely desirable and will rot away in the forests then we can assess this unique asset as it stands. Taking and exporting the round log works into our log savings account - these exported trees will never be here to supply a laterally integrated manufacturing base for the future. We are spending old growth capital to supply manufacturing elsewhere. If there is no money to be made in manufacturing then how can a company buy a shipload of logs and ship it across the Pacific ocean mill, dry, and manufacture it and stay in business?
To believe that the US is a open free trade country and that logs should go to the highest bidder is naive. We subsidize oil by giving large tax incentives for exploration, we protect corn, wheat, and sugar growers, and so on. We need to force the hand of manufacturing if they want to utilize our resource; perhaps some day we can import logs into the state for manufacturing? It will take legislative and business incentive to reverse this round log export trend.
The justifications for round log are many: immediate return on trees, cheaper manufacturing costs overseas, higher price in the round than sawn, and so on. These are simple excuses for lack of large scale industrial investment in the state since the pulp mills in the 1950's. When the industry complains that it doesn't have trees while shiploads pass by the mills their complaints ring hollow. There is not incentive to compete internationally for trees when trees off federal land are cheaper than trees off of private and state trust lands. An integrated land management policy that stops or slows the export of round logs would help send a message to industry and the world that we want manufacturing in the state. My challenge to the state, federal government, and private land holders is this. Are we not smart enough, rich enough, or creative enough to out compete the rest of the world with the resources in our back yard? If you believe we are then encourage a round log export ban.
About: " Larry is the owner of Tongass Forest Enterprises - Drying and Manufacturing Alaska Species for Worldwide Sale in Ketchikan, Alaska."
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