Whale Pass Sale Plan Released With No Changes

Written by Lauren Cusimano

April 6, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 6, 2023
Klawock Alaska
Contact: Maranda Hamme, SEACC Tongass Forest Program Manager, maranda@seacc.org, c: 907-401-1852; Katie Rooks, SEACC Policy Analyst, katie@seacc.org, c: 907-401-0909; James Greeley, City of Whale Pass Councilmember, james.greeley@gmail.com, c: 206-963-9020

Whale Pass Sale Plan Released With No Changes
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Forestry, has made no significant changes to the adopted Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) for the Whale Pass Timber Sale (SSE-1378 K) despite overwhelming opposition to this timber sale.

KLAWOCK, Alaska (Heinyaa Ḵwáan) — The final Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) for the Whale Pass Timber Sale was released yesterday, April 6. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Forestry and Fire Protection has made no significant changes — no additional buffer zone above houses and no forbearance in terms of logging outside Southeast State Forest lands.

This means the FLUP was released without consideration of the community of Whale Pass and how those living directly below the sale will be affected despite outcries from residents, Whale Pass Mayor Dawn Waldal-Anderson, and newly formed advocacy groups like Friends of Whale Pass. Currently, there is a tight 100-foot buffer zone between the clearcut sale area and resident property lines. What’s more, this sale — and other recently announced, old-growth sales like it including El Capitan Timber Sale — will affect tourism to the area, subsistence hunting, and quality of life for the residents of Whale Pass and Prince of Wales Island.

“The state’s lack of empathy towards Whale Pass residents directly affected by the sale is apparent and disappointing,” says James Greeley, Whale Pass resident, member of Friends of Whale Pass, and The City of Whale Pass Councilmember. “They continue to plan on zero changes to property buffers and the dangerous and destructive use of cable logging directly above residential homes.”

“I am disappointed and frustrated by this decision, especially in terms of the potential to include Southeast State Forest and other state-managed lands in carbon storage programs. These parcels would add huge value to the pilot projects described in the Governor’s carbon bills,” says Katie Rooks, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council’s Policy Analyst. “Additionally, it is clear to me now that the Division of Forestry does not care about the Alaskans it harms with timber sales on public land; it seems obvious that the DOF cares only about extremely minimal and short-term benefits to the timber industry.”

This 292-acre timber sale is located in the 2017-incorporated town of Whale Pass on the north end of Prince of Wales Island. The community has approximately 60 residents. This decision follows a Forest Land Use Plan comment period (ending Oct. 17, 2022), which was tailed by a comment period on the Preliminary Five-Year Schedule of Timber Sales for the Southern Southeast Area for 2023 to 2027 (Jan. 27 to Feb. 28, 2023).

SEACC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Juneau, serving Southeast Alaska.

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