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State Help on the Way for Southeast Timber Industry Jobs


August 14, 2004

Ketchikan, Alaska - Speaking to a crowd of workers & public officials at the Pacific Log & Lumber sawmill in Ketchikan Friday afternoon, Governor Frank Murkowski announced a plan to make state timber sales available for the mills to help protect Alaska jobs. The plan announced by the Governor will provide some relief this year to three small Southeast Alaska sawmills that have been financially hamstrung by the resistance of environmental special interest groups to logging on federal land.

photo Gov. Murkowski Ketchikan, Alaska

Governor Frank Murkowski announces his plan at the Pacific Log & Lumber sawmill in Ketchikan. Standing to the right of the Governor is Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka)...
Photo by Dick Kauffman

"We are determined to get a long-term solution to the timber industry's supply problems by using U.S. Forest Service timber to supply our Southeast mills," said the Governor. "But we need to help the mills survive until then. Ongoing litigation by environmental groups is tying up the timber the mills need and depriving the Southeast economy of these critical jobs. Greenpeace and other environmental groups have been trying for 25 years to put Alaska's timber industry out of business, but I'm not going to let that happen."

Under the plan, the state will first provide state timber sales for the Pacific Log & Lumber sawmill in Ketchikan and the Silver Bay Logging sawmill in Wrangell over the next year. The state will also provide the Viking sawmill in Klawock with 15 million board feet of state timber over the next four years.

photo sawmill workers Ketchikan, Alaska

Pacific Log & Lumber sawmill workers stand with Steve Seley as they listen to the Governor's announcement Friday afternoon...
Photo by Dick Kauffman

To further expand potential timber supplies, the state will also encourage the Mental Health Trust to make timber on its land in the region available in sales for which local mills could compete. Finally, the Governor has committed the state to work with the sawmills to find uses for sawdust and bark generated as byproducts of mill operations.

The Forest Service has agreed to help by putting up federal timber sales near state sales and cooperating on a joint road agreement on Gravina Island. Forest Service timber, much of it currently tied up in court, should again be available in sufficient quantities to supply the mills in the summer of 2005, the Governor said.

"The state will do what it takes to help keep this industry alive," said the Governor. "From intervening on behalf of the Forest Service to defend timber sales in court from environmental special interest groups, to putting up our own timber for sale, this administration is going to support Alaska jobs. We can have a sustainable timber industry and a healthy environment. Those trying to put these mills out of business with endless and unnecessary litigation do not have the best interest of the people of Southeast Alaska at heart."

photo Gov. Ketchikan, Alaska

Chuck Pool, Bill Green, Sen. Bert Stedman, Borough Mayor Mike Salazar and Governor Murkowski take a break as they look around the sawmill grounds....
Photo by Dick Kauffman

Governor Murkowski said new mills are needed and we need to open the veneer mill in Ketchikan. He said the state will provide a portion of the timber supply the state has for that mill as well. The Governor said a 10-year sale is needed and we need to recognize the eco-tactics of some of the extreme environmental groups.

Governor Murkowski said, "I am very pleased to see what you folks have accomplished here today." He said, "We want to make sure you continue and that's a commitment of our administration."

Among those present for the Governor's announcement Friday afternoon were Steve Seley owner of Pacific Log & Lumber, Ketchikan Borough Mayor Mike Salazar, Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes, Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka), Gary Morrison, Jim Clark, Owen Graham, and Robin Taylor.

photo - sawmill

Robin Taylor, Attorney General Gregg Renkes, Borough Mayor Mike Salazar, Borough Attorney Scott Brandt-Erichsen...
Photo by Dick Kauffman

Alaska Forest Association Executive Director Owen Graham said, "I want to thank the Governor. He's been protecting our industry and keeping us alive for a long time." Graham said it's great to have the support of the state.

The Governor's Chief of Staff Jim Clark said the Governor's commitment is real and very genuine and what we're going to be doing is just getting it down over the next couple of weeks to specific timber sales and we're going to keep all the mills open. Clark said they have a very ambitious plan and will need the support of the workers to do it.

The Pacific Log & Lumber sawmill is located on Gravina Island.




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