The Forest Service's TLMP
By Stephen Todd
February 28, 2007
My neighbor recently asked why conservationists were advocating
for a new direction on the Tongass in the 2007 forest plan amendment.
I gave him the usual answers: We believe important community-use
areas on the Tongass deserve protection; we support small timber
operators with a high-value product; and research demonstrates
that the remaining big tree forests are the biological heart
But that did not satisfy my neighbor. He asked, "What are
your real motivations?" I thought about it and answered,
The Honeymoon and King George watersheds are large valleys on
the north end of Etolin Island. These drainages contained some
of the largest remaining stands of trees on the Wrangell District
before they were sold as the King George Sale in 1997. The company
that was awarded the bid for the sale filed for bankruptcy in
2003 after taking the most valuable 19 million of the 24 million
board feet from the sale, breaching its contract with the Forest
Service. This took place despite five separate market-related
contract term adjustments that were requested by and granted
to the company. Around 5 million board feet of timber was left
in the sale units, two million of which was cut and is still
rotting on the ground today.
This timber was repackaged into the Red Mountain Sale, and resold
to only one bidder in 2006 - Alcan Forest Products. Export waivers
were granted for 100 percent of the logs. Whenever the rest of
the overseas-bound logs are cut from the watershed, it will be
done without any local processing jobs, and based on National
Environmental Protection Act monitoring work that is more than
12 years old.
I have grown weary of blame being cast on conservationists for
a downsizing timber industry. Yesterday's management and today's
economics are the realities of that evolution. Every time I look
out my window to Honeymoon Creek, I am reminded that large-scale
Tongass timber projects based on the same logic as the aforementioned
sales are in the pipeline.
It's time to urge the Forest Service to shift its budget priorities
so that small, sustainable timber mills can function alongside
a diverse, community-based economy. Protection for critical habit
and community-use areas on the Tongass would be a sensible part
of the revision as well. I am planning on getting my input into
the plan's public comments. I hope my neighbors will too.
Received February 26, 2007 - Published February 28, 2006
About: "I am a resident
of Wrangell that is advocating for a new direction on the Tongass
- with a forest plan that protects important community use areas
and critical habitat."
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