Comment on Alaska’s Five Year Schedule of Timber Sales for 2025-2029

Written by Nathan Newcomer

April 3, 2024

Earlier this year, Alaska’s (now former) State Forester, Helge Eng, said the Division of Forestry & Fire Prevention and the Alaska Mental Health Trust are “charged with essentially maintaining a timber supply to keep the (logging) industry going until federal timber from the Tongass National Forest comes online.”

Eng made this statement, and made the State’s forest management priorities for Southeast Alaska clear, during a panel discussion at the Southeast Conference Mid-Session Summit in February and those priorities are evident in the State’s Five Year Schedule of Timber Sales for 2025-2029, which is open for public comment now. The deadline to comment is April 8. 

The Division of Forestry seems to be making decisions with only its “customers” in mind — yes, Eng did refer to large logging companies as “major customers,” which fits with Governor Dunleavy calling Alaska “America’s natural resource warehouse” back in 2018 — but the State has a constitutional mandate to develop its resources “consistent with the public interest.”

It’s time to let the Division of Forestry know what our interests are.

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Talking Points

  • The State of Alaska is constitutionally obligated to manage its resources “consistent with the public interest” not just the interests of the timber industry. The Division of Forestry & Fire Protection’s Five Year Schedule of Timber Sales appears to prioritize supplying timber for the benefit of industry, and mostly for the benefit of Viking Lumber.
  • Intact old-growth forest plays an important role in climate change mitigation by capturing and storing carbon.
  • The State of Alaska can earn revenue through carbon offsets with the passage of SB48 and Southeast Alaska has high value old-growth that would provide more benefit standing, yet there is no mention of carbon offsets in the five year schedule of timber sales.
  • Some sales, like the Stairway Sales on Prince of Wales, put lives in danger due to potential landslide risk.
  • Some areas have already been logged extensively, like Naukati and Control Lake areas. 
  • The State is required to take a hard look at cumulative impacts and consider each sale in the context of harvests that are occurring on adjacent land ownerships.
  • Some of the proposed sales provide minimal information, not nearly enough for sufficient public input. 

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