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Forest Service Explains Yakutat Thinning Contracts


July 14, 2004

Alaska - The Tongass National Forest is planning some pre-commercial thinning work in the Yakutat area during the summer season.

The Forest Service will be thinning about 30 acres this year in a project area located in the Tawah Creek area South of Tawah Creek Bridge on the west side of route number 9976 approximately 15 miles southeast of Yakutat.

The Forest Service plans to thin an additional 500 acres on the Yakutat Ranger District over the next three to four years.

Before soliciting for any service contracts, Forest Service officials want to remind any potential thinners in the area about the basics of the program.

"We want to ensure prospective thinners in the local area are aware of upcoming opportunities," said Yakutat District Ranger Tricia O'Connor. "We are willing to work with anyone who expresses an interest in pre-commercial thinning to help them understand the process involved."

"Pre-commercial" means the size of the trees are too small to have commercial value and the thinning is done before they reach commercial size.

According to the Forest Service, thinning can benefit the land and wildlife habitat.

"Pre-commercial thinning is the cutting of trees to improve tree spacing and to promote rapid growth and vigor of the remaining trees in a forest stand," explained Pat Heuer, a silviculturist for the Tongass National Forest. "It also is accomplished to improve habitat values for fish and wildlife."

Pre-commercial thinning service contracts are very detailed. The contracts spell out exactly how the work is to be accomplished in a certain area.

"We really want to give people an idea of the difficult work and care that's involved so they will have a realistic grasp of the process before they actually bid on a contract," O'Connor added.

Forest Service pre-commercial thinning contracts vary in size from less than 50 acres to several hundred acres. Contract time is based on anticipated production which can be affected by crew size, logistics and weather.

"In most areas contractors should expect to work in conditions of poor visibility and difficult navigation because of thick brush, trees and slash," said Heuer.

The contractor is responsible for their own quality control program to ensure that work meets specifications. Forest Service inspectors will assure compliance with the specifications and determine if the work is acceptable.

"Forest Service inspectors will systematically place inspection plots to assure the work that the contractor says is OK, is indeed OK." said Heuer. "A contractor can expect inspectors to give them feedback and clarification on contract specifications to ensure problems are sorted out at the beginning of the contract."

There are other items for potential thinners to be aware of including The Migrant Seasonal Worker Protection Act, workman's compensation insurance, proper safety equipment, radio communications, fire tools and camping permits.

"We do not want to discourage prospective thinners in the local area," said O'Connor. "In fact, we want to encourage them. We just feel it's better to give them an honest and thorough picture up front so they aren't overwhelmed once they get in the field."

For more information about pre-commercial thinning, visit the Procurement Technical Assistance Center's website at


Source of News Release:

U.S. Forest Service - Tongass National Forest
Web Site



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