Forest Service, Local Conservation
Groups Resolve Timber Sale Appeal
Deal means less trees cut
but timber likely to go to local mills
August 19, 2008
Working together, the U.S. Forest Service, Southeast Alaska Conservation
Council and the Sitka Conservation Society have resolved the
conservation groups' appeal of the proposed Iyouktug timber sale
on Chichagof Island near Hoonah, in the Tongass National Forest.
Under the agreement, the Forest Service will delay offering expensive
helicopter logging sale units, and four units in a roadless area.
The agency will first offer more economical, non-helicopter units
designed for smaller timber operators. The Forest Service also
agreed to modify some units to lessen the impact of logging on
fish, bear and deer habitat. In return, the conservation groups
will not challenge the sale until or unless the delayed units
"We hope the success from working together on this sale
leads to a new, more collaborative and community-based way of
managing theTongass," said Russell Heath, SEACC's Executive
Director. "The Forest Service gets a sale out the door,
the local mills get access to the timber they need and the community
gets a healthier forest for hunting, fishing and recreation."
The agreement is a direct result of the groundwork and relationship
building fostered through the Tongass Futures Roundtable, a 35-member
group brought together two years ago by The Nature Conservancy.
That's according to Forrest Cole, Supervisor for the 17-million-acre
"This resolution indicates that collaborative work by the
Tongass Futures Roundtable is beginning to produce results,"
said Cole. "Working together can make possible the kinds
of benefits that will ultimately lead to better management of
resources, as well as an improved economy for Southeast Alaska
The deal also includes managing the sale schedule so that only
an average of 2 million board feet (mmbf) is logged each year.
Local mills often cannot compete with outside timber companies
for large sales, so the smaller sale volume is more in line with
"We are a local business providing jobs in our local community.
We feel we can compete for this sale and process the wood to
supply high-value wood products for the building industry,"
said Wes Tyler, owner of Icy Straits Lumber in Hoonah. The mill
currently uses around 1 mmbf per year; however the mill would
like to increase its production.
The Forest Service also agreed to perform thinning and other
restoration work on certain areas of second growth to enhance
habitat vital to deer and other wildlife.
"This area has been heavily logged in the past, so we wanted
to protect the valuable places that are left, encourage restoration
of other areas for the local community, and begin to start thinking
about a new type of land management paradigm for the Tongass
National Forest. We did not want a sale that only worked for
an outside operator to come in and log," said Andrew Thoms,
Executive Director of the Sitka Conservation Society. "It's
encouraging that we were able to work with the Forest Service
to accomplish some of those things."
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USFS - Tongass National Forest
Sitka Conservation Society
Icy Straits Lumber
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