Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and the US Forest Service are hosting a timber contracting workshop this week.
The organizations said the purpose of the two-day workshop is to increase community involvement in, and understanding of, opportunities in Wrangell’s Ranger District to create long-term timber projects. SEACC Community Organizer Jeremy Maxand said the two-day event, which begins Nov. 29, will focus on a wide range of topics.
“The first day is focused on ‘what does community collaboration with Forest Service decision making and land management look like?’ How can we use GIS and mapping to identify resources on the island or the borough for economic development? We’re going to talk a little bit about workforce development and the possibility of a high-value timber manufacturing curriculum in the high school and what infrastructure we need to do that,” he said.
He also said there will be a roundtable discussion about how the community would like to use the region’s resources. Maxand said that includes timber, recreation and fishing.
“These are not new concepts, but there are a couple of major decisions that the Forest Service is going to be making soon. One of those is the Wrangell Island Project, which is a pretty large timber sale. And there’s quite a bit of interest in the community to see that sale maximize local job creation and to provide wealth creation essentially in a sustainable way for as long as possible. Some of the conversation is going to be focused on that project,” he said.
He said he hopes the conversation will provide insight to the Forest Service as they develop the Wrangell Island project. Marianne Klinger also will be taking part in the workshop. Klinger has more than 20 years of experience with contracting. She previously worked for the Forest Service as well. Klinger plans to present information specific to stewardship contracting during the second day. She said she would like to dispel what she calls “myths”.
“There are a lot of people who think stewardship contracting is really difficult or time consuming. So I’m going to talk about those barriers that people have set up for themselves and how we can overcome those,” she said.
Klinger said understanding the stewardship contracting process could benefit Wrangell in the long-term.
“If we generate revenue from the sale of products, that revenue can stay right in the local community. With a regular timber sale, that revenue goes back to the Department of Treasury. So you keep your jobs local and you generate more money to spend on projects to achieve those land management goals,” she said.
The workshop is open to the public. Maxand said he expects local mill owners, government officials and representatives from the Wrangell Ranger District to attend. The sessions, which are held at the Nolan Center Classroom, begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. both Thursday and Friday Nov. 29 and 30.