Re: Roundlog Export
by Brian Brown
November 08, 2004
Chris Wilhelm and Mike Sallee
have both expressed some notion that selling logs for export
is somehow a policy at odds with a thriving local economy.
This is how liberals who don't want timber cut go about it in
a pro timber community; they can't effectively sell their anti
logging propaganda to this audience so they take another tack,
complete with Democrat buzzwords like outsourcing.
However when they put it in economic terms, they have to ignore
facts. The reason, small cedar logs cannot be processed
competitively in Alaska is that the timber industry has been
denied the benefit of having a viable timber base that would
enable mills to invest in the necessary equipment to compete
with mills in Washington or Oregon for this type of log.
The consequence of having a limited harvest is that the mills
here cannot support harvest of the type being done on Gravina,
where the export logs are paying stumpage, financing a big chunk
of the Lewis Reef road and providing jobs and benefits to over
50 people. In the photo that Mr. Sallee submitted, the
background shows a hillside that has already been harvested.
It has been cut and helicoptered out at a very high expense because
that is how the Mental Health Trust wanted it. This not
only denies Mr. Sallee the opportunity to do another 5 year diatribe
about clearcutting (like the one on Slide Mountain) it also
drives up the harvest cost. The consequence of this is
that it becomes unaffordable for the local mills. While
it may be true that some of the mills are short of timber, that
would not be the case if they could pay prices necessary for
a sale of this type. Timber supply is partially a
function of cost and at some cost the supply is infinite (Economics
Mr. Wilhelm thinks the state should put restrictions on
logs sold in Alaska. This would not do anything to help
the sawmill industry. The USFS has plenty of timber and
the state is making timber available to mills. However,
environmentalists like Wilhelm put up roadblocks at every turn.
The only reason the state has to provide timber to the mills
is because of the litigation machine these type of people have
helped create that has stymied the feds. In the short term
this denies timber to the mills, but longer term, it keeps the
mills from making the big investments necessary to become competitive.
In the meantime, logging operators, who have millions of dollars
worth of equipment have to keep working so the export market
becomes a crucial part of the entire industry. The timber
that is uneconomical to the local sawmills is only available for
export and timber cutters, longshoremen, tugboat drivers and
loggers are no less important than sawmill workers.
The logs in Mr. Sallee's picture are gong to Washington state
where their Department of Natural Resources has an annual harvest
level of 500 million board feet, about 12% of the harvest
in the state. Overall that annual cut is about
20 times that of Alaska. None of those logs have
an "in state" restriction on them, but with
a harvest level of that size, the mills can afford to make the
investments in equipment and marketing they need to sustain themselves.
Those entities are not successful because they were helped
by subsidies or mandates. Because they have private
and state timber and a high level of harvest they have a viable
and competitive industry which can buy logs from neighboring
states and countries. Let's put 4,000 million feet of timber
up for sale in Alaska by all means so we can have that kind of
industry as well.
To paraphrase Mr. Wilhelm it
is the job of all state agencies is to insure that resources
be managed for the sake of jobs. If that is the case, I
say let's start with all the oil leaving Valdez, and the ore
leaving Kotzebue, not to mention gold from Juneau. We should
refine all the oil and ship gasoline, think of the jobs that
would create; smelt the zinc, bring in iron ore and ship galvanized
steel from Alaska. Why bother with timber, its processing
jobs would be miniscule compared with that? If the further
processing of something is always a benefit, we should also restart
the pulp mill so that we can stop exporting wood chips, I am
sure Mr. Sallee and Mr. Wilhelm would be in favor of that.
Ketchikan, AK - USA
RE: Roundlog Export by Chris Wilhelm - Ketchikan, AK -
Roundlog export from Gravina by Mike Sallee - Ketchikan, AK - USA
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