Local News

U.S. Forest Service collaborates on micro timber sales

WRANGELL, ALASKA

The Wrangell Roadside Environmental Assessment was signed last March. The assessment allows for the harvest of timber for micro sales up to 50-thousand-board -feet, along parts of existing road on Wrangell, Zarembo and Etolin islands.

At the meeting Thursday July 14th a group of foresters from Wrangell, Prince of Wales, and Petersburg reviewed opportunities for commercial firewood, saw timber salvage, and green saw timber sales. Petersburg Planning Forester Steve Lombard Spoke at the meeting. He views Wrangell’s Roadside Environmental Assessment as a success, and says Petersburg would like to do something similar.

“This type of program would enable an operator with one of these mills to go out and acquire trees they can then go out and mill and sell. Right now the sales are small, the guys are just looking for a few trees and the equipment capabilities are limited. That’s what this program is trying to target someone that doesn’t have capabilities to do larger sales,” he says.

However Lombard says it will take a joint effort to develop region wide micro timber sales. He says the meeting was a starting point for areas like Wrangell, Prince of Wales Islands, and Petersburg, to begin working together and hashing out a plan.

The meeting also presented maps of sale areas, information on timber contracts, business administration programs, as well as domestic processing requirements for wood products. Adam Tlachac is a pre-sale forester for the Wrangell Ranger District and he says the purpose of the program is to make small timber sales easier for all parties involved.

“Our process right now is a categorical exclusion for each individual event, from a blow down to an individual firewood sale; we have to do a National Environmental Policy Act  on them. The purpose of the roadside environmental assessment is to clear a bunch of things at once and help streamline the process so we can meet the community’s needs more efficiently and not bog ourselves down with a more cumbersome paperwork process.”  He says ultimately the success of the program depends on public interest.

“If somebody says I need so much firewood of a certain species on Wrangell Island, we would work with them to find it, and accommodate them, and that was the point of this meeting to drum up some interest and make ourselves more known of what we have to offer the community,” he says.

Tlachac says the program will be beneficial in localizing small timber sales in the region, which he says will be a favorable situation for many small mill operators; one of those operators is Wrangell saw mill owner Mike Allen who says this could be a boost for his business.

“There will be more wood offered more wood to get for me to process. It just opens up a whole lot more availability here on the island. This is cheaper for me to get. I don’t have to go to Mitkof Island or other islands to gather the wood,”  he says.

This will be the first year of the micro timber sale program in Wrangell. Forest Service officials say the micro timber programs region wide will be fairly standardized, and plans are in the works for a number of visits to potential timber sale areas in the months to come.

<a href=”http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/districts/wrangell/index.shtml”>Click here to link to the Wrangell Ranger District</a>
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