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Forest Service issues decision for Woodpecker Project Area


November 12, 2003
Wednesday - 1:00 am

The Forest Service recently approved the harvest of timber in the Woodpecker Project Area within the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. The area is located on the Petersburg Ranger District, Mitkof Island, about 27 miles south of Petersburg, Alaska.

Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole has approved the harvest of approximately 10.9 million board feet of timber and the construction of approximately 4.8 miles of classified road and approximately 1.3 miles of temporary road to facilitate the harvest. An earlier decision in December 2002, on the same project area, approved approximately 5.4 million board feet of timber harvest along the existing road system. Options at that time were limited due to a since-lifted federal district court injunction.

"With the lifting of the injunction regarding review of creating new Wilderness on the Tongass, I had the opportunity to go back to the analysis conducted for the Woodpecker project, and see if opportunities for timber harvest outside of the road corridor existed," said Cole. "This decision is part of our ongoing effort to provide small-scale sales to help local, family-run mills keep operating and create jobs."

Cole said it's important to "think globally and act locally," when it comes to timber management in Southeast Alaska.

"Alaska imports hundreds of millions of board feet of timber products annually from Canada, the Lower 48 and other countries," said Cole. "However, Alaskans' needs for wood products can be met locally in an environmentally sound way. Making small sale opportunities available for purchase allows operators the chance to create a reliable timber supply for themselves. It would be great to reach a point when investments can be made in drying and planing lumber, having it graded, and then seeing it for sale locally."

According to Forest Service officials, the four main issues in the Woodpecker analysis revolved around deer hunting, recreation, timber sale economics, and effects to the Crystal inventoried roadless area. Only a small portion (4 percent) of the most valuable deer winter range existing in the project area is included in this decision, with the majority (75 percent) of trees within high value deer habitat timber sale units left standing. The December 2002 decision included plans for enhanced recreation opportunities in the area.

"I'm very pleased at how the analysis team for this project worked to balance important deer habitat, timber economics, and roadless area management concerns," said Cole. "We are charged with not only managing National Forest System lands on the Tongass but to do so in a environmentally sound way to enhance the health, stability, quality of life, economic vitality and adaptability of the people who live in Southeast Alaska. That's our mission and that's what we are doing."

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, this decision is subject to administrative review. Notices of Appeal must be filed within 45 days of the date that legal notification of this decision is published in the Juneau Empire, the newspaper of record, which is planned for Nov. 24. The address to file appeals is: Regional Forester, Alaska Region, USDA Forest Service, P.O. Box 21628, Juneau, Alaska, 99802-1628. The closing date to accept appeals is anticipated to be Jan. 8.

The document will be mailed to people on the project mailing list sometime during the week of Nov. 10. If you would like a copy of the Woodpecker Final EIS or Records of Decision, contact Linda Slaght, Petersburg Ranger District, P.O. Box 1328, Petersburg, Alaska 99833; e-mail address:; or call (907) 772-3871. Copies of these documents are also available at most Forest Service offices and public libraries in Southeast Alaska.



Source of News Release:

USDA Forest Service - Tongass National Forest
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