The Forest Service wrapped up a comment period on the Central Tongass Project this month. The plan would reshape land uses in the Petersburg and Wrangell ranger districts of the national forest for a 15-year stretch.
In a letter to the federal agency, The City of Wrangell says it supports Alternative 2 of the plan, which calls for the largest timber harvest at 150 million board feet of old-growth and 80 million board feet of young-growth trees.
Carol Rushmore is the economic development director for the city.
“Because that provides the most opportunity,” said Carol Rushmore, the economic development director for the city. “Ultimately, more and more of those areas will be pulled out as they look at site-specific areas and what the impacts from all the standards and guides and other requirements are. But Alternative 2 provides the most opportunity initially.”
The city also wants more recreation and subsistence access. That looks like renovations to some of Wrangell’s key tourist destinations, including the Anan Bear Observatory and Rainbow Falls Trail. The city also calls for help repaving the Spur Road extension to North Country Trail, maintenance to remote docks, repurposing log transfer sites to serve all users, and turning soon-to be closed roads into ATV trails. The city also hopes for another cabin on the south end of the island.
Rushmore questioned the planning process itself, specifically the flexibility for public input during all stages. The Central Tongass Project is different than previous Forest Service plans. It uses a broader brush.
“Because it’s such a new process, I think it’s just the concern that the borough and the public are involved when [the Forest Service] starts looking at their annuals plans and what can and cannot happen in particular areas,” Rushmore said. “So there’s additional time to comment.”
The city is not the only one with this opinion. A federal judge ruled that a similar landscape level analysis on Prince of Wales Island did not provide the public with enough information to adequately comment on the plan. The ruling blocked an upcoming timber sale on the island.