Wrangell’s assembly is supporting a potential 5,000-acre timber sale on the island. But, in a letter released Monday to the Forest Service, the assembly says it has concerns about how the sale will benefit the community.
The letter addressed many concerns regarding the Wrangell Island timber sale. Its top priority is getting a seat at the table as the planning process moves forward.
Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore says involving the borough will help ensure economic benefits for Wrangell. She drafted Monday’s letter.
“The assembly was interested in trying to participate in how those sales might be structured in order to see that sustainability,” she said. “I think they as well as a large part of the community is very interested in, are there ways to incentivize those sales to allow local business development, job creation over a longer period of time, sustainable to benefit the economy of Wrangell.”
District Ranger Bob Darymple was not available for comment on whether it’s possible for the assembly to be a part of the process.
Assembly member Steve Prysunka shares Rushmore’s concern over the length of the sale. He says coupled with the absence of a mill in Wrangell, the benefits could be minimal.
“It would be a problem if we had a company come in, set up somewhere out the road, run a camp, drop all the trees and leave and we have limited economic development within the community moving forward. It could be as short as three years of money coming in,” said Prysunka.
Darymple told KSTK in an earlier interview that the sale would last three to five years. Prysunka says he’s also concerned about small timber operations’ ability to buy into the sale.
“But my understanding is that the costs of roadbuilding and obviously of helicopter logging are so prohibitive, that a small operator will not be able to participate directly in that,” he said.
The Forest Service released a draft June 2 detailing several possibilities for the sale. They range from about 43 million to 65 million board feet. One option calls for no timber sale at all. Public comment on the draft came to a close July 18.
District Ranger Darymple has said the final EIS will come out in the fall.