SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Proposed Logging on Deer Mountain

By Owen Graham


September 02, 2016
Friday PM

Dear Sitnews Editor,

There have been a number of articles, letters and op-eds about the Mental Health Trust plans to harvest timber from portions of its Deer Mountain and Petersburg properties if our Congressional Delegation is unable to enact legislation to exchange these parcels for timberlands elsewhere. Rhetoric from the usual anti-development critics about saving Deer Mountain and destructive logging is disingenuous. The past harvests in the region have not harmed fish or wildlife habitat and the extensive road system that the logging established has greatly benefited the local communities and has provided enhanced recreation and tourism opportunities. The Great Alaska Logging show near the docks in Ketchikan is a major tourist attraction and a helicopter partial cut on the slopes south of town will not harm our tourism industry.

Proposals to have the federal government purchase the land from the Mental Health Trust are misguided. The region is already suffering from the dominance of federal ownership almost 95% of the land in the region is federal land and a result, the timber industry is enduring an ever worsening timber supply crisis. Congress has already preserved vast areas of Southeast Alaska and what our communities really need is reasonable access to the remaining lands.

Likewise, asking the Mental Health Trust to further postpone harvesting its timberland is not helpful. The Trust has avoided harvesting these last parcels for a decade while trying unsuccessfully to exchange the parcels for less controversial national forest land. While the Trust has worked cooperatively with the Forest Service to craft what appears to be an exchange that the agency is willing to accept, the end of that bureaucratic process is still many years away.

The best solution would be to legislate the exchange this year and avoid the conflict, but delaying any harvesting at this point would result in lost jobs and lost economic activity. Both the Forest Service and the State timber sales have nearly all been appealed and delayed; even the small amount of timber that the region's last remaining sawmill has under contract is being litigated.


Owen Graham
Executive Director
Alaska Forest Association
Ketchikan, Alaska


Received September 02, 2016 - Published September 02, 2016


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