Wrangell Community Forest
Wrangell is an island community of 2,400 people located at the mouth of the Stikine River. For more than a century, Wrangell has seen the continuous operation of sawmills in one form or another--longer than any other community in Alaska--as well as a strong fishing and fish processing industry, marine vessel service, and tourism.
SEACC is supporting a number of economic development projects in the Wrangell area that are consistent with the Tongass Transition Plan and that sustainably build on the economic history of Wrangell to create jobs and maintain the quality of life for Wrangell residents.
Wrangell Island Project
SEACC has been actively engaged in the Environmental Impact Statement process for this project, which has been described by the Forest Service as designed to "develop and implement a multi-year project involving a variety of timber harvest, road construction, forest restoration and enhancement" projects in the Wrangell area.
High Value-Added Timber Products
When the 50-year timber contracts in Southeast ended, the large sawmill in Wrangell began a rapid decline in production, and today the 6-mile mill site has been dismantled and cleared. Two small mill operators continue to operate, producing up to 1.5 million board feet of dimensional and other value-added products per year. The Wrangell community is highly supportive of a value-added wood products industry and is actively developing plans to support and enhance this industry. SEACC supports these efforts and has been working with the community to develop an action plan to diversity this sector of Wrangell’s economy.
There are currently two mills operating it the community of Wrangell. SEACC has completed interviews and an ad campaign with both of these mills. Click for more information: Mike Allen Enterprises and DJ Enterprizes (Jim Colier).
Wrangell enjoys affordable, clean, and carbon free electricity generated by the Tyee lake-tap hydropower plant south of Wrangell Island in the Bradfield Canal. Over the past several years, conversions from diesel to electric boilers for heating homes and commercial buildings have created an unanticipated 52% increase in electrical load. To reduce this load, and ensure power is available for industrial growth while new hydropower developments are explored, biofuels are being considered as a source of renewable energy for heating. SEACC is working with the Wrangell community to identify biofuels technology that can take advantage of small mill wood waste and municipal solid waste (paper, cardboard, wood) to create pellets or BioBricks. Locally manufacturing biofuels could create jobs, reduce shipping costs of municipal waste, subsidize heating costs for lower-income families, and reduce heating expenses for larger public or private buildings.
In a recent survey by SEACC, 31% of Petersburg and Wrangell residents expressed an interest in heating their homes with biofuels. There's lot of work to do to supply these folks with local biofuels, but the effort is underway.
Outdoor recreation plays an important role in the quality of life of Wrangellites, but also in attracting visitors interested in experiencing Southeast Alaska. SEACC actively supported the development of a Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan for Wrangell. In addition, SEACC is providing support and leadership in SEAtrails (Southeast Alaska Trail System) to develop a regional “legacy” trail system and better market Southeast communities as a hiking/kayaking destination. The development of a local recreation plan and integrating these plans into a larger regional vision for land and sea trails is critical to expanding the visitor industry in Wrangell.
As part of the Tongass Transition Plan, more resources will be invested in stewardship and restoration activities in areas impacted by past logging. SEACC is working to build local capacity to help plan future stewardship activities, develop stewardship contracts that are consistent with local business capacity, and help existing or new businesses take advantage of stewardship opportunities. The primary stewardship focus in Wrangell is on the Pats Watershed to support increased wildlife, subsistence gathering, and recreation.