Bostwick Timber Sale; Sealaska Land Trade
November 30, 2006
Of the alternatives discussed in the draft forest plan, Murkowski endorsed a combination of two that would provide an economic volume of timber for an integrated industry over the life of the forest plan.
"In working with the Forest Service to get to a final EIS and forest plan, we have kept four objectives in mind," Murkowski said. "They are to provide an economic timber supply sufficient to attain and maintain an integrated timber industry capable of harvesting, processing and marketing all species of timber from Southeast Alaska. Our second objective is to establish a level of timber sales that will attract new wood processing facilities to Southeast. Third, we want to provide other resources in quantities so that a multiple use balance can be achieved. And, finally, we want to bring an end to the management of the Tongass National Forest by the courts."
The draft EIS and forest plan is scheduled for public release in January 2007. A final EIS and final forest plan is scheduled to be completed in August 2007.
In his ongoing effort to attain and maintain a viable timber industry, Murkowski said the latest milestone is finalization of the state's Bostwick timber sale on Gravina Island near Ketchikan. There, Pacific Log and Lumber mill owner Steve Seley has recently finalized a contract with the Division of Forestry for a 12 million board foot timber sale in the Bostwick Bowl. The sale was made possible by construction of a 7.2 mile road through the governor's "Roads to Resources" program. The Bostwick Bowl timber sale is located adjacent to a Tongass Forest timber sale that will be made available at a later date.
"It is only through the continued push to get a sufficient volume of quality state timber available to our few remaining timber operations that we will be able to maintain an integrated timber industry capable of harvesting, processing and marketing timber in Southeast Alaska," Murkowski said.
The Division of Forestry has worked with the Office of the Governor to provide state timber to Southeast mills while the USFS is in a transitional phase to regain management of the forest from the courts. To date, the state has provided 25.6 million board feet in nine sales over the past two years. The Bostwick timber sale was negotiated under a state statute mandating in-state manufacture of products from the cut timber.
As a separate matter concerning possible land selections by Sealaska Corporation near Yakutat, the governor has emphasized to the corporation the importance of primary manufacture to the Southeast economy.
"Primary manufacture will be required on any land trade by Sealaska from the land it selects in Yakutat to any other land it selects on the Tongass outside Sealaska's ANCSA selection and overselection areas," Murkowski said. "The state has nearly exhausted its Southeast timber supply. With three mills in Klawock, Wrangell, and Ketchikan, plus a veneer mill needing timber - Native and private landholders should be encouraged to do whatever they can to make sure the local mills have an adequate timber supply."
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