July 21, 2009
"This is good news for the industry and an ailing Southeast Alaska economy," said U. S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) in a news release.
U. S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also welcomed the announcement. "This sale will help support the struggling Southeast timber industry, which depends on responsible access to the Tongass for survival," said Murkowski.
This is the first U.S. Forest Service timber sale in the Alaska Region under the new so-called Vilsack policy. Due to a series of litigation and conflicting court orders on the Roadless Rule, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced in late May that he would personally review and approve timber sales in roadless areas across the nation in national forests.
In a news release, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, "Given the existing court-approved settlement agreement between the state and the Forest Service on roadless areas in the Tongass, I would have been extremely concerned if Secretary Vilsack had blocked this timber sale" Murkowski said. "Instead, I am heartened that the secretary has recognized the importance of maintaining an environmentally sound timber industry in Southeast Alaska."
The Orion North sale will produce approximately 3.8 million board feet of timber from 381 acres on Revillagigedo Island near Ketchikan. Roughly two miles of roads will be constructed to facilitate the harvest of timber for the sale.
"While this is a relatively small sale, it's a good first step for the Secretary's new policy," said Senator Mark Begich. "I appreciate Secretary Vilsack's willingness to look at the facts and draw the right conclusions. I look forward to helping him and the new Chief of the Forest Service, Tom Tidwell, get to know Alaska and the issues on our national forests, the two largest in the system."
While still under the threat of litigation, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied an injunction to halt the sale in June of this year. The Orion sale will produce approximately 3.8 mmbf (million board feet) of timber from 381 acres. Approximately 2.1 miles of roads will be constructed to harvest the sale.
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