Governor Signs Bill to Support Alaska Timber Industry
July 19, 2016
(SitNews) Klawock, Alaska - Today, Governor Bill Walker signed into law a bill designed to meet the growing demand for timber in southeast Alaska - after the lack of federal timber threatened the industry’s survival in the state. Senate Bill 32, which also expands the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ authority to respond to communities hardest hit by fuel prices, passed the 29th Alaska Legislature with near-unanimous support.
Governor Walker signed the bill at Viking Lumber, one of the largest year-round employers on Prince of Wales Island and one of the state’s largest working mills. Viking Lumber employees, many of whom worked there for more than 10 years, were also present for the bill-signing.
“As Alaska faces the greatest fiscal crisis in our state’s history, it’s important that we continue searching for areas where we can innovate to protect local industry,” said Governor Walker. “This bill will help promote the timber industry in Southeast Alaska and provide lower-cost biomass energy for rural Alaskans. I thank the owners of Viking Lumber, Kurt and Bryce Dahlstrom, for hosting this bill-signing ceremony.”
Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) praised and thanked Governor Walker for his support and signature of SB 32 into law. SB 32 which is an act relating to the sale of timber on state land was introduced and carried through the Legislature by Governor Walker this year. The intent is to help Alaskans and Alaskan families who are employed in the timber industry.
The bill expands the authority of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to offer negotiated timber sales versus waiting until a crisis has developed and a region is suffering with high unemployment rates. This is very positive news for the small timber operators and mills, particularly in our region, and where timber supply has been restricted said Sen. Stedman. SB 32 passed the Legislature with near unanimous support. The Board of Forestry also supported the bill unanimously.
Along with DNR having the flexibility needed to offer more large timber sales during a difficult time when federal timber sales are not meeting the needs of the southeast economy, the legislation also ensures that sales are developed with adequate notice to the industry and general public, and still maintains the public process for determining if a timber sale is in the best interest of the state.
The state was previously unable to offer negotiated timber sales larger than 500,000 board feet unless the sale area met all three criteria of having high unemployment, underutilized manufacturing capability, and an underutilized timber supply that would lose value due to insects, disease, fire, or conversion to non-forest uses. This prohibited many large timber sales in areas with high demand for timber products and biomass energy.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
Source of News:
Office of Gov.Bill Walker
Office of Sen. Bert Stedman
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